Roland G. Murphy, Model 222

As Roland Murphy recounts in his recent interview with HR Magazine, his first position in the watch industry after graduating the WOSTEP program in Neuchatel, Switzerland was with the Hamiliton Watch division of Swatch, then still operating in its original hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By 1992 he had begun to market his own watches, and RGM Watches has since established itself as the premier American watch company. While generally constructed using top-quality Swiss components, conception, design, decoration, assembly and final adjustment, quality control and packaging is all done in Lancaster County, still the center of the American horological universe (besides Hamilton and RGM, the area is home to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) headquarters, school and museum, and the Rolex Foundation's WOSTEP watchmaking school, the Lititz Technicum.

Although a very modest manufacturer (a few hundred watches annually), RGM has produced an inordinate number of interesting small editions, including two series commemorating tall sailing ships, chronographs featuring historic movements, the 50-piece TimeZone LE, and a new double-barrel 7-day watch. Add to this the determination to produce commissioned watches one at a time, and you begin to realize their unique vision.

The quality and reputation of pre-1960 Hamilton watches is world-class, and in retrospect it almost seems inevitable that Roland Murphy and his company would someday produce a watch featuring movements from their horologic and geographic brethren.

Click the pictures for even larger!

The design of the huge silvered dial is modern and sleek, but the construction is deceptively complex. The whole is conceived in three-dimensions, with the border between the brushed chapter ring and the matted center being a robust groove, and the seconds subdial alone double-sunk, with a deeply-engraved concentric pattern; incredibly crisp printing completes the package.

The 10-size caliber 921 (as well as its sister 917 and 923) is one of Hamilton's finest small pocketwatch movements, although at over 38mm diameter it can just barely be made to fit into a large (41mm by 12mm) contemporary wristwatch case. A true piece of high horology, it features a screwed balance with overcoil hairspring and a beautiful curved regulator, highly polished winding wheels, and luxurious bridge layout with semi-separate cocks for the third, fourth and escape wheels, gold chaton-set jewels and hypnotic cotes-circulaires finish.

A closer view of the balance and escape assemblies; the design is very clean and symmetric, and the finish is first rate!

Side view of the 3 wheel-cocks, beautiful anglage, the chaton-set jewels, and wheels with extraordinary polished spokes, rims and teeth!

The case is necessarily robust, but clean lines maintain a somewhat dressy style.

A huge window shows off the main attraction:

Wonderful case details, with traditional RGM onion crown.

Please check out the rest of my watch Articles and pics:

I hope you enjoyed this!

October 6, 2006

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