RGM recently celebrated its 25th anniversary by welcoming visitors into its Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, headquarters and to the NAWCC Watch & Clock Museum in nearby Columbia, Pennsylvania. There, founder Roland G. Murphy took advantage of a special weekend celebration to introduce three new RGM timepieces and an update of its in-house Caliber 801 movement.
Thus, in addition to the tours and watchmaking demonstrations, visitors to RGM’s 25th anniversary celebration were the first to see the three new RGM watches and the new Caliber 801SW, the firm’s fourth in-house movement.
The new movement adds a central seconds hand to the original RGM 801, and it does so with a novel construction that includes a new mainplate.
Most movements with a center seconds hand have a wheel that is friction-fit onto a pivot from the third wheel coming through the bridge, explains RGM. This set-up requires that a watchmaker remove the wheel prior to any maintenance or servicing of the movement. The new 801SW movement instead has the third wheel and the sweep drive wheel on the third wheel arbor. This double wheel sits under the bridge, eliminating the friction wheel system. While the system requires more components in all, its requires fewer steps to service. In addition, RGM says the resulting caliber will likely be even more reliable than those calibers without this type of construction.
RGM has placed its new caliber inside a new 42mm RGM Corps of Engineer (COE) model. The new RGM 801SW-COE watch appears similar to the firm’s existing 801-COE, except for the large blued steel center second hand steps around a Grand Feu enamel dial. From the back you will see the collection’s characteristic bridges, which RGM notes are reminiscent of the Howard Watch Company's "Edward Howard" model from decades past.
New railroad watches
Murphy also introduced a new 41mm Model 222- Railroad (RR). Like other models in the 222 line, the Railroad model features restored Hamilton 921 or Hamilton 923 slow-beat (18,000vph) manual-wind movements turned in their case to place the crown at the vintage 1:30 position, a location favored by many early 20th century railroad watches. The Hamilton 921 movement was made in large quantities, RGM notes, while the Hamilton 923 movement is less common, with fewer than 4,000 movements manufactured. Also, the finish on the 923 is different than the finish on the 921.
The Grand Feu enamel dial on Model 222-RR offers a traditional railroad theme, which is not surprising as the series is modeled after American railroad watches that feature so-called Box car style dials. RGM explains that in 1925, Ball introduced a new official RR Standard dial referred to as the Box Car dial. It had plain, sans-serif, heavy hour figures to help make the dial extremely easy to read. Waltham offered a similar dial, also calling it a Box Car dial. Elgin and Hamilton also used similar dials on some railroad models. The new models’ blued steel hands are true to the classic form.
Finally, RGM now offers Model 25, a 40mm classic design similar to the firm’s well-known Pennsylvania Series watches. This series features characteristic coin edge cases and truly hand-cut engine-turned guilloché dials that are mesmerizing to see up close. These American-made dials can be had with a choice of guilloché patterns and galvanic colors. (For a video demonstration with Murphy, see https://vimeo.com/33538356)
RGM fits the cases with top-quality examples of the workhorse ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement.
Visitors to the anniversary weekend also saw the RGM Chess Watch, which the firm debuted earlier this year as its first anniversary piece. These four new watches, plus the new movement, make 2017 the brand’s most prolific ever. The debuts are a fitting way to celebrate a quarter century of watchmaking at RGM.
Prices: Model 222 RR: $5,900 with 921 movement and $7,900 with 923 movement
801SW-COE Corps of Engineers Sweep Second: $10,900.
Model 25: $6,450.
See http://www.rgmwatches.com for more details.