Independent American watchmaker RGM is introducing its fourth watch, celebrating its 30th anniversary. Founded in 1992, the brand already has several in-house movements, including the tonneau-shaped caliber 20, caliber 801 and Pennsylvania Tourbillon, and both enamel and guilloché dials are a speciality. We looked at some of RGM’s Grand Feu enamel dials in the past but never cloisonné enamel, which is offered with this Model 25. It’s a rare and challenging process, and the result is a stunning image of Yellowstone National Park, which is also celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The stainless steel case is American-made and a bit smaller than the norm for RGM at 40mm in diameter and 10.4mm in height. It’s based on the larger Pennsylvania series case. Classic RGM features include curved-down lugs, ribbed sides and a contoured bezel, and the open design really highlights the dial. There are sapphire crystals front and back, and water-resistance is rated at 50 metres. It’s fitted with a 22mm light brown leather strap with an alligator pattern that matches the earthy dial elements well, and the smaller case should be comfortable on most wrists.
This isn’t the first Cloisonné enamel dial for RGM, but it’s rare, to say the least. The technique, known as “to partition,” involves adding compartments or “cloisons” in French with flat silver or gold wires that outline the design. An enamel powder is then turned into a paste, and many layers/sections are worked by hand and fired. An exceptional level of detail and dimension is achieved with the compartments, and five or more separate trips to the kiln are required. The dial image depicts a bison at Yellowstone National Park and was inspired by Work Projects Administration (WPA) Poster Art. These government posters were made to publicize attractions and events in the early 20th century, and Yellowstone was America’s first national park. A dark brown chapter ring surrounds the enamel image with large Arabic numerals and a simple minute/seconds track. Functions are limited to central hours, minutes and seconds to keep the image front and centre.
Powering the watch is a Swiss automatic in lieu of something in-house, but it’s well decorated and a solid match for the piece. It has 23 jewels and beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) and features a 14k gold in-house rotor, Côtes de Genève and perlage. RGM doesn’t specifically identify the movement, but it’s likely an ETA 2892 variant.
The RGM Model 25 30th Anniversary Edition Yellowstone is limited to only three pieces and retails for USD 13,900. It’s certainly not cheap, but not out of line for such involved handwork from a small independent brand. For more information, please visit RGM’s website.