I first heard of this name Romain Gauthier from thePuristS.com some times back. So, when Natalia (Brand Manager, in-charge of all independent watchmaker) from the HourGlass called me asking me if I am interested to meet up with him, my answer was an immediate YES!
Romain arrived in Singapore on 26th November 2006 and immediately he made the arrangement to meet up with Prof. Harry Tan and myself. We took some photos of the 3 prototypes that he has brought with him and also chatted with him briefly on his creation and how he suddenly "pop-out" from literally no-where?
So who is this young chap who has decided to come out of "no-where" and create his own brand of wrist watches?
Romain Gauthier, according to himself, was working in a company producing watch parts to manufacturer in la Vallee de Joux region using CNC machines.
At age 25 (that is in 1999), he suddenly have an urge to divert into the Horological industry, either as a consultant to collectors or something like that. He gradually formed the idea of having his own watch brand. He also understood that in order for him to material his goal, he will need to know how to do business, thus he took up an MBA course and graduated in 2002.
During this period, he met an important person who has changed his life completely, Philippe Dufour. It was the master who has give him the idea that he can produce his own movement with his technical background and an engineer, and afterall, watch movements are just machines in a smaller scale!
He spent the next few years developing his movement, in secret, and again he received valuable advices from Philippe Dufour on the improvement of finishing on his movements.
As he is not a watchmaker by profession, he engaged a good friend and a talented young watchmaker Sebestien Berney to join him on the working of this first prototype.
Again on Monday evening, The HourGlass arranged for a dinner gathering for some media people and collectors, and Romain Gauthier, to formally introduced him to the Singapore watch community.
I understand that there will be another lunch meeting today (Tuesday) for more collectors, purists, and others before he leave for a flight back to Gevene late night.
The dinner was held at the Jade Garden Restaurant located in Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore.
When introducing Romain Gauthier to the invitees, Michael Tay (Executive Director of The HourGlass) recalled receiving a personal phone call from Philippe Dufour strongly recommending this young man to him.
Michael was also pleased to announced that they have signed an agreement with Romain to be his authorised dealer in this region.
Larry Wee and Duncan Wang listening very closely to Romain while he explained the various models available in this Collection Prestige.
Romain explainig to Eddy Koh how he managed to make use of his friend's CNC machine on "off-office" hours to produce the watch parts that he has designed....
Natalia Tan, with Lim Hock Thiam, General Manager of The HourGlass.
Duncan Wang (left) posing with Alan Teo, The HourGlass Millenia Walk Branch Manager, one of the best Boutique Managers here as agreed by most .....
Kathleen Herzig, the new Chief Editor of the Timecraft magazine, liked the design of this new creation very much ....
Prof Harry Tan, who has rushed down to the event from his Uiversity Exam Invigilation, checking closely the marvellous movement of the watch.
Peter Chong, famous for his passions on the Brand Lange, has recently becoming active again in local watch events.
Peter asked Romain on the black coating on the movement of the Rose Gold version and was told that it is PVD coating and not the famous Black Polishing ....
Most of us couldn't resist the beauty and symmatrical design of this watch and tried it on our wrist. Here's one I have captured while Larry was trying on the White Gold version ....
I would dare say that the dinner was a success as discussions were almost non-stop and all of us have gained a better understanding of the watch, the man and his philosophy in watch-making.
We all agreed that this watch will take off like a rocket so long as he maintains his philosophy in his creation and "listens" to his customers' needs.
According to Romain, there will be 4 basic models in his first collection - Collection Prestige, comprising of a Rose Gold version with Black Dial, a Rose Gold Version with Champagne Dial, a White Gold version and a Platinum version.
The list price of these 4 models in Singapore are S$45,000 for both the Rose Gold versions, S$50,000 for the White Gold and S$57,000 for the Platinum version.
Each version will be limited to 38 pieces only and Romain promised that he will never repeat the combination again. Also, out of the 38 pieces, 33 pieces will be of standard production whereas the last 5 pieces are opened for slight modifications as preferred by the customer. However, he did not elaborate on this and we shall have to wait to see what variation he can provide for the 5 special pieces of each version.
Again, there will be a diamond version limited to 8 pieces in each of the combination above. The only difference is that the bezel will be covered with diamonds as shown in one of the prototype below. List price is expected to be above S$90,000 on the diamond series...
Prototype 1 - Rose Gold Case, Diamond Bezel with Champagne Dial
According to Romain, this particular piece is the nearest to the finished product of this version.
This watch has a rose gold case with a 3-piece 18k solid gold dial in champagne colour. Hand guilloche pattern.
And yes, this dial is made completely in house by Motres Romain Gauthier, the company founded by Romain Gauthier.
The case measured 41mm by 11mm and curved nicely hugging one's wrist perfectly.
Take a look at this gorgeous movement, calibre 2206 Hm, which is a hand winding calibre with 22 jewels. This movement is completedly designed, developed and mahufactured by Romain Gauthier, amazing isn't it?
The finishing on this version is different from the basic model in that it has a "sand-blast" finished effect whereby Romain did it himself with a special polishing procedures. Edges of the bridges are finished in spectacular high gross finishing.
Look at the curve in body .....
Prototype 2 - Rose Gold Case, Black Dial
Check out the Cote de Geneve finishing on the bridges for the basic model, as well as the PVD coated parts ....
Notice also the "S" shape screw groove that Romain has created? Yes, one will need a specially made screw-driver to unscrew them. According to Romain, there are basically 2 main benefits in this design. One is the it provide better grip than the standard straight screw groove as only the right size tool can be used to scew/unscrew them. Also, it make sure that the movement could not be tempted with by others who have no proper tools.
Prototype 3 - White Gold Case, Grey Dial
Check out the hand guilloche pattern .....
Some parts photos
A very sepcial Balance Wheel designed, developed and made by Romain Gauthier .....
Each watch delivered will have the position of the Balance Wheel with the 4 inertia screws position photographed so that watches sent back for time regulation can be furhter analysed whether it is due to the screws position being changed or just simply wearer's habit.
Personally, I like the design of this wheel very much ....
This is the dial meant for the Platinum version, nice .....
The parts were suspended in the plastic part case and I've placed them in a mini light tent. Using my Canon 30D, with 100mm Macro lens and 2 x 580EX flash (one mounted on the camera and the other one at the back of the tent) I managed to get enough light to highlight the parts.
Romain was inspired by the Lange 1 off-center hour and minute dial, and thus decided to have an off-center hour and minute dial towards 12 o'clock position.
Also, I believe this design will leave him enough space for his future creations..... what I've heard is something on regulating watch's timing like a tourbillon and perhaps a dual second hands option as well (one sweep and one jumping second).
Romain definitely has quite a number of ideas and he has already started to on the design of his second movement, hopefully a CAD drawing would be available in 2008 and the prototype in 2009.
It is always pleasing to see these enthusiastic young watchmakers and designers in pursuit of the "haute horlogerie" and I wish them all the best.
outstanding pictures!!!!....much better than the ones i took...:)
November 28 2006, 12:02 PM
i have a question: did the crown dig in your wrist?...when i tried both the rose gold and the white gold versions in his atelier, the teeth of the winding crowns were a little bit too sharp and kinda bothered my wrist...
i presume the answer is yes since these are the same prototypes i handled...
"How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in Heaven"
Hi Adrain, I think your pictures are equally good, if not better than mine ;-)
November 28 2006, 8:38 PM
I have had the luxury to use a light tent for my watch shoot but I understand you could not do that while in his atelier.
I was fortunate to have the chance to take my time in the photography and Romain is such a kind young man, patience and even explaining technical specifications in detail though I could only captured around 50% of it
Strangely, I did not feel the crown bothering me while having it on my wrist. Perhaps I was too carried away by the fact that I was wearing such an wonderful creation. But seriously, I tried winding all the watches, they are superbly smooth to wind and did not feel any sharp edges while doing so too.
Perhaps Romain has had the winding crown "filed" after comments from you guys. From my conversations with him, I believe he is one who can take criticisms and will improve on the design or otherwise should it be a genuine good idea for the development of his watches and not just some personal preferences.
Well done, KC for the excellent photos and report.
November 28 2006, 5:02 PM
It is a beautiful watch and even in its prototype stage, the finishing is amazing.I was lucky to have viewed them via Bernard's Nikon magnification yesterday. Thanks to The Hour Glass and best of success to Romain. Jim
Your detailed coverage brings to everyone here the same discovery we enjoyed in our meeting with Romain.
Wonderful watches by Romain and your photography brings it all out for all to see. Thanks for taking the time to process your photos so quickly and filing the report!
From my personal point of view, I believe there will be a growing following for Romain's timepieces. I am already one of them! I hope that RG will make sure that there will be a realistic launch price for the watches and avoid the ever spiralling price inflation resulting in the watches becoming unreachable to the growing fans.
Fantastic photos KC. I'm glad that he was able to come down and you guys had a chance to see his marvelous work. I was very very impressed the 1st time I saw his movement.Lets see what else he has in store for us.....Yes, the birth of a new watch