Quill & Pad Article about American Watch Brands and the Truth Behind the Dial.

Excerpt From Quill & Pad Article about American Watch brands.

RGM: the modern American watchmaker
Luckily for those of us in the United States, Roland G. Murphy has put his watchmaking expertise and passion for American horological history into a company that indubitably builds the modern American watch.

Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (home of the former Hamilton Watch Company) RGM Watch Company manufactures its timepieces using modern technology blended with antique watchmaking tools and methods such as engine turning – perhaps better known as guilloche – which is the process of engraving decorative patterns onto metal using a hand-driven rose engine.

RGM even bases its designs on iconic American pocket watches. The Pennsylvania Series 801 caliber draws inspiration from the unique winding click of the Illinois Watch Company’s “Illini” model – see the The Schmidt List: Top 5 Funky Clicks for a detailed explanation of this component’s function – and its crown and ratchet wheels are finished like those of the Illinois Bunn Special.

Further, the 801 caliber includes a bridge plate construction resembling the Edward Howard model of Keystone Howard watches, and the Pennsylvania Series 801 Classic Enamel uses high-fire double-sunk enamel dials like those on nineteenth-century American pocket watches.

See a complete breakdown of this model in RGM Pennsylvania Series 801 Classic Enamel Offers Traditional Timelessness Bridging Past, Present, And Future.

These inspirations represent the great American railroad watches, which were some of the highest-grade watches of their time. And RGM makes sure that the quality of its movements is nothing less than the watches it honors.

See complete article here:

NEW - PS-801-Skeleton .. See it at the LA WatchTime Show this week.


 The Caliber 801 was introduced in 2007 as our first in-house movement. Now, after more than a year in development, we are proud to introduce a classic skeleton version of our most famous movement.

 A solid gold plaque at the bottom of the dial divides the minute into thirds. The three arm second hand enables a clear view of the movement and the escapement. The different lengths of the arms of the second hand allow for easy reading of the seconds as they pass.

 All of the components of the movement are hand finished using traditional techniques. The matte grain finish and polished bevels (anglage) on the bridges and main plate require many hours by a skilled craftsman.

Inspiration was taken from skeleton watches from the early 20th century which were less ornate with clean lines and a functional aesthetic.

WatchTime Los Angeles ... A Collectors and Enthusiasts Horological Experience!!!!

WatchTime is bringing its hugely successful WatchTime New York event concept to the West Coast next week May 3-4, 2019 at the Hudson Loft space in Downtown LA. You can expect a similar experience to WatchTime New York event. https://www.watchtimeevents.com/

Here at RGM we are looking forward to seeing some of our clients and followers from the West Coast, just like we enjoy so much seeing everyone at the New York event. Over the past four years, WatchTime New York has emerged as the largest and most important luxury watch event in the United States. In October 2018, the show welcomed over 1,400 collectors and 31 brands to Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan. Like WatchTime New York, WatchTime Los Angeles will offer the passionate collector and enthusiast a horological experience unlike any other.

We are looking forward to showing two new RGM models next week, we hope you can be there and be one of the first to see them in person.

Europa Star Writes About RGM in American Watch Report

From - Europe Star chapter 2, 2019

Full American Watch Report article click here


 Roland G. Murphy: the last American master

Roland G. Murphy, founder of RGM Watch Company

In the place where the erstwhile giants of American watchmaking, including Hamilton Watch Company, were established, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we met Roland G. Murphy. This master watch restorer founded the RGM Watch Company brand in 1992, the only American watchmaker still producing its own mechanical movements. He represents an isolated, independent mind on the other side of the Atlantic, far away from the Swiss ecosystem.

RGM Watch Company is housed in a former bank in the small town of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. It’s a solid brick-built structure with a vintage but still very reliable safe. On the ground floor, three watchmakers are busy at their workbenches. After the tour, the discussion begins with Roland G. Murphy, one of America’s only master clock and watchmakers.

Roland G. Murphy, founder of RGM Watch Company

“The United States has always been a country oriented towards mass watch production, before everything moved to Asia,” says Roland Murphy. “The large factories in our region operated very differently from our craft workshops. In a sense, I am an heir to this watchmaking tradition, but an heir with a very different face.” He feels closer in spirit to the likes of Kari Voutilainen, Svend Andersen, Peter Speake-Marin or the Grönefeld brothers.

However, it was at the Hamilton facilities in Lancaster that it all began for the native of Maryland. Before Hamilton he completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter. During that time he took a job with Danecker Clock Co. where he worked on the wooden cabinets for clocks. When the company went bankrupt, Roland Murphy bought the stock of clocks and began to analyse their movements. This was the beginning of a passion that still grips him today.

PS-801-CH “Chess in Enamel”: the first RGM timepiece with a double-sunk real glass fired enamel dial

A pioneer in the “new wave” of independents

He joined a technical school in Pennsylvania (which has since closed its doors) to take a watchmaking course, before flying to Switzerland in 1986, where he perfected his skills at Wostep in Neuchâtel. Back in the United States, he was hired by SMH to work on product development for the Hamilton brand in Lancaster. However, Roland Murphy did not really feel at home in a group, where individual initiative is necessarily limited by the many constraints, work meetings and hierarchical superiors. Besides, he missed working with his hands. He decided to leave the group. Hamilton, meanwhile, would relocate permanently to Biel in 2003.

He is operating under additional constraints, far from Switzerland’s watch supply chains.

At the beginning of the 1990s, there were just a handful of independent master watchmakers, a new generation led by François-Paul Journe, Franck MullerAntoine Preziuso and Vincent Calabrese – a far cry from the current Carré des Horlogers! When he founded RGM Watch Company in 1992, Roland Murphy was one of the early birds of this “new wave” in watchmaking.

And he was operating under additional constraints, because of his location, far from Switzerland’s watch supply chains. “My colleagues have access to local technologies and skilled labour, support from foundations and much more media attention,” says Roland Murphy. “I’ve been wanting to hire a Finnish watchmaker for several years now, a former intern, but working visas are very difficult to obtain.”

RGM Watch Company is housed in a former bank in the small town of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

How to source critical components

Fortunately for him, the watchmaker initially acquired a large number of Nivarox assortments via third parties, which he still uses today. The first models were skeletonized column-wheel chronographs equipped with Valjoux movements. With the help of Jean-Daniel Dubois (now director of Vaucher Manufacture), then at Lemania, he was also able to launch several small series of tourbillon, minute repeater and perpetual calendar watches.

At the same time, he continues to work as a restorer of vintage timepieces, providing after-sales service in the United States for brands such as SinnEberhard & Co. and Titoni. This supports RGM’s activity as an independent brand, with a dozen employees today. In 2007 the RGM Watch Company launched its first in-house movement after seven years in development. Today, the company has four Made in America calibres, for an annual production of some 250 watches. The brand has specialized in the segment of custom-made models, a growing niche, as well as in the trade-in of second-hand timepieces against new RGM watches.

Today, the company has four Made in America calibres, for an annual production of some 250 watches.

A certain vision of Americana

Current collections include the Pennsylvania series, which ranges from models under $10,000, equipped with custom cases, with parts made by a local aerospace industry supplier (!), to a tourbillon model in steel priced at $95,000. For the company’s twentieth anniversary in 2012, the Calibre 20 was launched on a model with guilloché dial and precise moon-phase indication.

The most recent movement developed by Roland Murphy and his team is the Calibre 801 with a sweep second, inspired by Patek Philippe’s classic central second system. The watchmaker is currently working on a new higher-end calibre, similar to the Zenith 135 or the Peseux 260.RGM Watch Company also uses ETA movements to offer more accessible watches, such as the 151 model priced at $3,000. The company even offers its vision of Americana through the Baseball Watch model.

RGM 801-COE Corps of Engineers watch

Bad retail experiences

Most customers are American watch connoisseurs. Roland Murphy chose to switch to a 100% direct sales model more than a decade ago, after a series of bad experiences with retailers. "At first, I started by collaborating with retailers, but I realized that it was better to give it up for a small independent brand like mine,” explains the watchmaker. “The major brands give advantages to sellers to ensure their supremacy. One day, a customer went to a point of sale that represented me in California and asked for the price of one of my watches: he was immediately redirected to another brand. This happened three times in three months. Enough to understand that it was no accident.”

"I started by collaborating with retailers, but I realized that it was better to give it up for a small independent brand like mine.”

RGM Watch Company took the drastic step of withdrawing from the dozen or so points of sale that represented it in the United States. “By getting rid of this margin, it also allowed me to offer more affordable models,” continues Roland Murphy. “In the end, we reduced production and increased our margins. With the advent of the internet, we have really grown, especially thanks to the impact of social networks and the support of specialized blogs.” The watchmaker manages the Instagram account of his brand himself.

RGM’s in-house Caliber 801, inspired by America’s watchmaking history

A region forgetting its horological past

With his experience as a restorer, the watchmaker doesn’t want to hear about using silicon in his calibres: “When I think of a watch, I think of its repair in several decades’ time. Too few brands take this into account. This is also why independents are so popular with collectors. We’re dealing with humans, not technocrats.” Roland Murphy’s succession seems to be assured, since his son-in-law works for the company, and his son has just graduated with a specialization in CNC operations.

The citizens of his region are no longer exposed to the importance of the watchmaking industry, however. “Many people are unaware of the long industrial and watchmaking heritage of our territory, despite the presence of the National Museum of Watchmakers and Clockmakers.” So, with his good humor and sincere speech, Roland Murphy acts as a salutary reminder, which may lead to new vocations among those whose grandparents devoted their lives to watchmaking.

Limited Edition RGM Model 500-GMT-RS "Richard Sachs" Version.. Pre-Orders Available

Model 500-GMT-RS

Both Richard Sachs and Roland Murphy have a passion for handcrafting and making very special products for their clients, often creating bespoke pieces of art. They can be described as traditionalists who believe in providing customer service and building the right product for each individual.

Years ago we made an RGM/Richard Sachs watch, and we have had many requests for a new model, so we’ve teamed up to create a truly special GMT watch.

Renderings are of the new RGM Model 500-GMT-RS which will be ready around Oct/Nov of this year 2019.

 Limited Edition of 50 Watches.

Anyone who pre-orders the watch now will get some extra goodies at no extra charge as outlined below.

  1. 3-year warranty in place of standard 2-year warranty.

  2. Extra RGM watch strap.

  3. Richard Sachs water bottle.

  4. Signed Richard Sachs cycling cap.

  5. Personalized engraving added to the case-back.


To order the watch, a 50% deposit is required, and the balance is due when the watch is ready later this year.  The price of the watch is $4750 on strap. An optional stainless-steel bracelet will be available later.

Email for more information

Call to place an order 717-653-9799


RGM Model 500-GMT-RS


  1. 41mm 316-L stainless-steel case with unidirectional 24-hour bezel.

  2. Screw-Down crown.

  3. Richard Sachs GMT hand, and engraving on case-back.

  4. Automatic ETA 2893-2 GMT movement.

  5. Superluminova on dial and hands.

NEW - RGM Model 151 Stainless Steel Bracelet

Years ago we had a metal bracelet for the Model 151, we have been looking for a replacement for several years, and now have a new even nicer bracelet available. The new bracelet can be ordered on a new 151, or can be purchased separately for any RGM 151 we have made in the past.

The bracelet is available in 316L stainless steel, it has a push button release clasp with a safety lock. Sizing is easy because the bracelet has screws not pins for removing links, and the solid stainless end-pieces are custom made to fit the 151 case. The clasp is engraved with the RGM logo.

The bracelet is available in a brushed and polished combination finish, or we can brush the entire bracelet.

Link to RGM 151 page click here

Looking Back......The day I Met Watchmaker George Daniels

First Edition

I first heard of George Daniels back in the 1980’s when I first went to school for clockmaking and watchmaking, I quickly went on the hunt for his now famous book on watchmaking, back in the 80’s the first edition was available, and I bought a copy.  I spent many hours, months, even years reading and examining the illustrations in the book.   I dreamed of making his tourbillon watch which he outlines over several chapters, who knows maybe some day I will make that watch.  The book was also my first introduction to Engine-Turning which has a chapter devoted to it as Mr. Daniels would Engine-Turn his own cases, and dials.  I was instantly fascinated with this work also, and as many know I pursued it some years later hunting down machines and finding craftsman to help teach me this beautiful craft.  Today we make many beautiful watches with this handmade work.


Once I started RGM in the early 1990’s I would attend the Basel Fair each year meeting suppliers and other people in the watch industry.  Every year I would make this trip to Switzerland and would also take the time to visit other companies not at Basel. This was very important then when I was just starting out making and designing my own watches, I rarely attend the fair now. If you have ever been to the Basel Fair you know how large this event is, and back in the 1990’s it had even more companies there as it was also a big show for suppliers. Now the fair has changed a lot over the years, and it’s very different today compared to then.


One year in the mid 1990’s when I visited the Basel Fair, I made my way back to the stand of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) and to my surprise George Daniels had a watch or two on display, I also heard he was there at the fair, but at the time I was in the stand he was not there.  I stopped back a few more times but I missed him each time, I thought I would not see him at all during the visit.   I was tired from the trip and thought I would go back to Neuchatel where I was staying early that day, so I made my way to the train station in the middle of the afternoon.  After making my way to the platform I could see the train was there waiting, once I boarded it looked like a ghost train, not many people were leaving Basel at that time.  I made my way into one of the cars and there was only one person in the car, to my amazement there he was the master himself, George Daniels sitting there by himself.  I couldn’t pass this opportunity up, so I went and sat across from him and introduced myself.


The train station in Basel is pretty big with several tracks, I was surprised when we left the station that know one else was in our train car.  I was going to Neuchatel which is a fairly long train ride from Basel, and Mr. Daniels was going to visit his good friend and watchmaker Derek Pratt who was another legend in watchmaking.    During this train ride of course we talked about watchmaking, the watch industry, and many other things.   He was wearing two wrist watches, one was a Rolex and the other was an Omega, both watches were fitted with his Daniels Co-Axial escapement which he had done years before.  He expressed to me his disappointment in the Swiss watch industries lack of interest in his escapement. He told me about some of his meetings and it seemed at that point he had given up hope of ever seeing it produced on a large scale.  Of course, we all know a few years later Omega decided to work with him, and the Co-Axial escapement is being used across the Omega lineup today.  I remember being at the Basel Fair the year it was introduced and seeing Mr. Daniels, and Mr. Hayek talking about it for the press and attendees in the Omega stand.


Co-Axial Escapement

We continued our conversation on the train, and I was talking about Tourbillon watches, he quickly let me know that he thought the tourbillon should be seen from the back of the watch, and not from the front. At that time Breguet and some other brands had the Tourbillon featured on the front of the watch which is what most customers of these watches wanted.  Mr. Daniels was old school and that’s what I would expect from the old master.  We continued the conversation and he handed me his Rolex and Omega to look at.  He said that the timing of the watches with his escapement was better then the rate he could achieve with the original escapements.  I am sure he spent many hours fitting and adjusting the escapement to these watches.  We talked for almost and hour and half on this amazing horological train ride, what a privilege I will never forget.


Once I found my way back to my hotel, I thought to myself, you could never arrange a private conversation with George Daniels for an hour and half.  Somehow I think I was meant to leave the Basel Fair early that day.


Thanks for listening

Roland Murphy


George Daniels 1926-2011

Derek Pratt 1938-2009

Limited Opportunity To Order an RGM Model 400

We announced a few weeks ago that the Model 400 Chronograph was effectively gone as we were out of enough parts to build more watches. We had many people contact us still trying to order one. We have gone thru the parts and have enough dials, hands, etc.. but we were out of cases. We are having 10 more cases made and can build these last watches in about two months.

So if you want a Model 400 Chronograph now is your chance, as of today there are 7 watches available out of the 10 new cases being made.

We have not changed the price, the old price is $3500 and we will honor that price. We have all dial variations available for the moment. If you would like to order one a 50% deposit is required and the balance is due when the watch is complete.

Web-page click here

Contact us at sales@rgmwatches.com

See RGM on Handcrafted American again on Amazon

RGM on Season 3 Episode 13

If you missed RGM on Handcrafted America with Jill Wagner a year and a half ago, you can now see it on Amazon. RGM is on Season 3 Episode 13.

Here is a little promo video they did back then.

A visit to the NAWCC Museum with Roland Murphy as the guide...

Written by RGM Friend Brad Jacobs

Waltham Regulator

Hello friends,
As noted some weeks ago, RGM Watch Company and the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors arranged for an event, free to the public, during which visitors to the NAWCC HQ could stroll through their extensive collection of clocks and pocket and wrist watches, with Roland Murphy of RGM pointing out and discussing some of his favorite pieces. About 45 people, in addition to Roland, two of his watchmakers (Alan and Benoît) and some members of the NAWCC staff, gathered for the tour. After a quick introduction by Roland, the group watched "Tick Tock Tale", a very clever vintage-style Disney short film (2010) featuring a cast of animated clocks, and then ventured into the galleries.

Roland chose several notable clocks and makers to discuss, including clocks by Simon Willard and his brothers, and Seth Thomas. Pocket watches he emphasized included a Patek Philippe Grand Complication, which Roland restored for the museum in the early 1990s, and some very rare and desirable watches from A.L. Breguet (Paris, France) and Wm. Dudley (Lancaster, PA). Examples of machines used for case decoration, similar to the rose engines used at RGM for guilloché, were explained, as were some details of the specifications for railroad-grade pocketwatches such as those from Elgin, Hamilton and Ball.

Roland was sure to explain some of the important history of Hamilton Watch Company, of which the NAWCC has an extensive collection (clocks, watches, memorability and documents, including the archives of the original company)--Roland worked for Hamilton in the 1980s and 1990s, but was able to provide history dating back to the company's predecessors such as Adams & Perry and the Lancaster Watch Company.

One particularly interesting section of the museum is devoted to watches and clocks made by members of the NAWCC, which sponsors a competition each year where members vie for top honors in 25 categories including watch making, clock making, clock case making, decorative endeavors and others. In this section are some fantastic creations including wooden clocks, tourbillon pocket watches and some of RGM's creations, including RGM watch #001. Originally sold ca. 1992, it was bought back by Roland and has been loaned to the museum. Roland has also provided a prototype Martin guitar, which he and his staff helped design when Martin & Co. were planning a custom piece to celebrate the production of their 2,000,000th guitar.

The photos below show some of the action. Those interested in a tour such as this, or a tour of the nearby RGM facilities, should visit RGMWatches.com and subscribe to their newsletter. The next event will be announced there and via RGM's facebook page..

I hope to catch up with you there!

Roland explains various types of early American clock styles and movements, and the importance of New England clock makers such as Seth Thomas:

Roland describes various significant dial-making techniques from the early 20th century:

Brad Jacobs and Roland Murphy in front of the Prototype of the CF Martin 2 millionth guitar that RGM collaborated on with martin.

Just down the road about 8 miles is the old Hamilton factory, now known as Clock Tower Apartments. I kinda want to live there...and work for RGM!

Tour the NAWCC Museum with RGM's Roland Murphy

RGM’s Roland Murphy will be hosting a free tour of the NAWCC Museum on February 23, 2019 at 10am. The NAWCC is the “National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors” . The address is 514 Poplar St. Columbia, PA 17512. No reservation is needed, just show up and mention you are there for Mr. Murphy’s tour.

Mr. Murphy has arranged for the normal museum fee to be waived so this is a totally free event. Of course we always encourage donations to the museum, which you can do in person if you so desire.

The tour will take about 2 hours or so, and Mr Murphy will feature items in the museum that he personally likes and feels are significant. There are many items of interest in the museum including clocks, watches, complicated watches, watchmaking tools, machinery, and much more.

Below is a video tour of the museum Mr. Murphy did several years ago, this will give you an idea of what is in the museum, and if you can’t come in person you can still have a video tour.

Also, after the tour if you have an old watch you would like to show Mr. Murphy he will be glad to look at and give you his comments about it. Mr. Murphy has many years experience restoring and collecting vintage and antique watches.

Two watch models that will disappear from the RGM lineup in 2019

RGM Model 400 Chronograph

If you ever watched an RGM Model 400 Chronograph or the Model 150-P now would be the time to place an order.  Both of these watches are nearing their end,  with parts stock low to build complete watches. 

Model 400 page click here


RGM Model 150-P

We are always working on new watches and introducing special pieces so it’s only natural that from time to time an old favorite will disappear.  Less then 5 of the Model 400 can be built as of today, and less then 15 of the Model 150-P.  Any of the dial variations can be built from the remaining parts stock of the Model 400.

You might remember a few years ago the Model 400 was in a GMC commercial and had a nice big closeup.

See video below of commercial.

RGM Special Year End Opportunity

RGM Special Year End Opportunity

For the month of December 2018 only!


Purchase or order any RGM Watch and receive the following.

  1. 3-year warranty

  2. Extra strap

  3. RGM eye loupe

  4. RGM case knife

  5. RGM glass mug

This special is for our Newsletter and Social Media followers, so make sure you mention the special when you place your order.


Discover the RGM PS-801-CE "Classic Enamel"

The New RGM PS-801-CE “Classic Enamel

 The classic double sunk enamel dial is inspired by classic pocket watches from the past. The double sunk enamel dial is made of three separate pieces and then soldered together to make the dial; the same technique that was used on pocket watch dials over 100 years ago. The three different layers of enamel give the dial depth and add to the overall beauty of the watch. This kind of dial can only be made by a very experienced and skilled enamel dial craftsman.

 The Grand Feu (French for “Great Fire”) technique was utilized to make these dials. Creating an enamel watch dial is a high-risk art. Enameling is a technique in which powdered glass is applied to a metal plate. The surface is then heated to a temperature high enough to cause the powdered glass to melt and form a new surface. The Grand Feu technique raises the stakes. The repeated baking of successive layers of enamel at extremely high temperatures ensures a uniquely crisp aesthetic while permanently setting the enamel. Using such high heat to create these beautiful dials also poses a risk: each time it is re-fired, the danger of cracking, melting or burning increases. With great risk comes great reward – the appearance of a real glass enamel dial is unmistakable.

 Under this extraordinary dial is RGM’s original in-house movement: Caliber 801. Inspired by America’s great watchmaking history, the 801 highlights classic bridge shapes, reminiscent of Keystone Howard Watch Company’s Edward Howard model. The unique winding click is inspired by the Illinois Illini model. The entirely hand finished and decorated 801 movement denotes the quality of its construction, including polished and blued steel components. The movement can also be customized.

 The watch is housed in a polished stainless steel Pennsylvania series case. With its large lugs and ribbed sides, the watch is architecture on the wrist. Like many of the components of the Caliber 801, the case is also made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, and finished by hand.

RGM Model 222-RR A WatchCarefully Review

RGM 222-RR -- A WatchCarefully Review

Sun, 04 November 2018 14:56 

C. Bradley Jacobs

Some images provided by RGM Watch Co.
Nov 2018
In 2017, the RGM Watch Company celebrated 25 years in existence with a party at the NAWCC Watch Museum and the release of some special timepieces. Earlier in his career, the founder of the company, Roland G. Murphy, had worked as Technical Manager for Hamilton in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when he began independently producing small series of Swiss movement-powered watches from his home in 1992. A quarter-century later, RGM can be found operating from an old bank building in nearby Mt. Joy (image below), where a staff of experienced watchmakers and designers now produce watch movements in-house, apply hand-turned guilloché, and even use locally-made cases, boxes and other accessories. They are internationally renowned as America's finest producer of wristwatches and for keeping many elements of traditional craftsmanship alive. Though some of their movements and parts are still provided by European manufacturers, they are best known for their in-house productions: Caliber 801, a large round movement evocative of the finest American-made pocketwatch movements, Caliber 20, a tonneau-shaped complicated movement introduced for the 20th anniversary of the brand, and the only tourbillon wristwatch ever serially produced in the USA, the Pennsylvania Tourbillon.
Alongside the modern marvels they produce, and their devotion to reviving the lost arts of American watchmaking, RGM has also made a name for themselves with their Reference 222 (Roland G. Murphy Signature Series)which almost single-handedly spawned a trend for re-purposing smaller US-made pocketwatch movements of high grade into wristwatches. So it is fitting that they have chosen to issue a revision of the 222 that celebrates another icon of American horology: the Railroad Watch.
Christened with reference 222-RR, the new piece utilizes the same basic case as the original 222 (introduced ca. 2005) and is driven by a vintage Hamilton 10-size movement--either Grade 921 or Grade 923, all produced down the road in Lancaster, PA between 1937 and the mid-1950s. RGM no longer offers the lower-grade 917 or 945, choosing instead to focus on the most heavily refined and technologically advanced of the 4 movements in that family.
There are two significant and obvious differences between the earlier 222s and the new 222-RR; whereas the 222 used the open-face Hamilton calibers in a "side-winder" format (the crown at 3 and the sub-dial at 9:00) the new 222-RR keeps the crown at the 12:00 dial position,but both the crown and 12:00 are canted a bit clockwise, just to the right of the upper strap lugs. The second difference is the stunning enamel dial, reminiscent of those first used on railroad watches in the mid-1920s.

The 222-RR features a dial of true fired enamel, also known as 'grand feu,' whose bold block numerals recreate the style of railroad pocketwatches often called Boxcar Dials. As early as the 1890s, railroadworkers were required to possess watches of certified accuracy and clear readability, intended to deter the possibility of train collisions. A departure from the style of early RR watches, Elgin and other major American firms began to offer the thick, utilitarian numerals seen here beginning in 1924. 
The connection of this watch to those of the early inter-war years is also reflected in the aforementioned positioning of the crown. During World War I, the benefits of a wristwatch (over a pocketwatch) became evident to servicemen in action. This prompted a surge in production of watches for the wrist among American companies whose watches typically focused on pocket watches for men and considered 'wristlet' watches a novelty or jewelry item, mainly suitable for women. As a result, the watch producers found themselves using the movements of womens' pendant watches as the basis for wristwatches for men. This was a simple transition for hunter-style movements (crown at 3:00, seconds at 6:00) but meant that using open-face movements for the wrist would require the printing of new dials...or make some simple adjustments. Thus, there came into existence examples of 'transitional' wristwatches whose configuration is reflected in today's RGM 222-RR. 
All 222-RR enamel dials are white with black numerals, and they employ a unique set of hands created especially for this model. They are blued steel in the traditional railroad shape, but their aesthetically pleasing proportions are specific to this watch. The example 222-RR shown here is motivated by a Hamilton Grade 923, made in 1946. Although Railroad specifications through the 1920s-1960s required a watch of 16-size, in order to keep the 222-RR manageable for the wrist, employing a 10-size movement was necessary. Happily, the Hamilton 923 (23 jewels, fewer than 3600 produced) and its sibling Grade 921 (21 jewels, approx. 54,000 produced) were highly refined and adjusted for accuracy that helped them meet or exceed expectations of railroad accuracy. That they were built in Lancaster, PA, a short drive from RGM's home, reinforces the noteworthiness of this watch, the first to combine such significant American watchmaking history with a modern homage to the great railroadmen's watches of yore. 
Before building any vintage Hamilton caliber in to a Ref 222, a single RGM watchmaker performs restoration and improvement activities--installing a new purpose-made mainspring, polishing any discolored parts to better-then-new condition, and executing a complete overhaul and lubrication. The balance is poised, the movement is adjusted and monitored then, only after having been cased and observed for some days, it is approved for release to its new owner. 
Due to the size of the classic movement RGM uses, the 222 watches measure 41.0 mm x 12.0 mm, in cases of 316L Stainless Steel. Sapphire crystals are installed front and back; water resistance is 5 ATM. RGM supplies the 222-RR on sturdy Hirsch Liberty leather straps with ample thickness, contrasting stitching and 22mm width tapering to 20mm ends. A shapely steel buckle is provided, subtly engraved with the RGM logo. 
Prices for the RGM 222-RR begin at $5900 US for an example with Grade 921 movement. The price of $7900 for a watch with the Grade 923 movement reflects the extreme difficulty of obtaining (and atmospheric rise in prices asked for) Grade 923 movement and parts in the requisite exemplary condition to be considered for use in an RGM watch. Although Hamilton produced hundreds of thousands of movements in the 917/945.921/923 family, barely over 300 Grade 923s (on average) left the Hamilton factory during each year of its production. 

Some technical specifications from a vintage Hamilton catalogue: 

Reflections of the author: 
Having now owned this piece since the middle of 2018, and an RGM 222-E since 2005, I'm quite comfortable with its size. It is comparable to many watches powered by modern ETA 6497/6498 movements (e.g., Eberhard Traversetolo, Chronoswiss TimeMaster, Panerai, etc) and perhaps a bit more wearable than some. The 222-RR has a fairly thin bezel, so the 41mm case admirably manages to act as a subtle showcase for about 37 millimetres of dial. As the dial is true enamel, with the reflectiveness and amazing contrast typical of that material, the case and bezel would be easy to ignore, but for the substantial size of the lugs (which, frankly, I would prefer to be less obtrusive). 
The fantastic dial is accentuated by the unusual angle at which it is displayed--the overall effect has retained its novelty for months now--and I find myself drawn to admire this watch as often as to tell the time. 
As with all RGM watches, the quality of their production (and of the components provided by their external suppliers) is top-notch, so there are no distractions or complaints here. Any inadvertent oversights in their quality department are quickly rectified--this I know through personal experience. But more significant to me is that every element of this watch is harmonious. The lustre of the dial, the depth of the sunken seconds register, the hue and shape of the hands, the weight of all the printed elements, the color of the straps, the design itself--everything combines to give the wearer the impression of having a true railroad watch for the wrist. 
The rear view of the watch does just what it should. It simply and directly (again, a thin bezel is key here) provides one a window into another time. Although RGM has made subtle improvements to the movement within, it remains an example of the highest-quality American made movement of its class and, though not a true RR-grade watch (as described above) it is surely the most apt substitute, whether in 23- or 21-jewel form. The 222-RR looks and feels like a little piece of 20th-century history for the wrist and I consider it to be another significant accomplishment by RGM in their quest to represent and maintain the high horological standards of American watchmaking. 
Thanks for your time, 

RGM Introduces Art and Handcraft Watches at WatchTime New York Show

Inspired by art and old-world craft, RGM Watch Company has created men’s and ladies’ watches with art and handcraft as the main theme.  The RGM Artwork watches feature the talents of artists from all over the world.  Included techniques are Cloisonné, Wood Marquetry, and miniature hand painting, one using luminous paint, and the other performed on a mother of pearl canvas. 

The Men’s watches highlight the art of Cloisonné and Wood Marquetry. The Cloisonné dial is inspired by Claude Monet’s Regatta at Argenteuil. From St Augustine, Florida, the Castillo de San Marcos is the inspiration for the Wood Marquetry dial. The art on the dial is framed by a 40mm stainless steel coin-edged USA made case, with a Swiss automatic movement fitted with a solid gold winding rotor made by RGM.

The Ladies’ watches showcase hand painting in miniature. A lotus flower is portrayed using luminous paint, revealing depth and character to the piece. The other watch features a floral design with a Blue Titmouse painted on mother of pearl, which brings the scene to life. These pieces of art are framed in a 28mm solid rose gold case, or optional stainless-steel case, and are powered by a manual wind Swiss movement.


Like our other old-world crafts, Guilloche and Grand Feu enamel, these techniques can also be commissioned in a unique bespoke piece per the client’s wishes.

Custom, one-of-a-kind pieces are a hallmark of RGM. These works of art for the wrist continue that tradition. 

Roland Murphy, RGM, and Movie Watches

Back in 1988 I worked in Product Development for Hamilton Watch Co. in Lancaster , PA here in the USA.  Hamilton had a line of retro watches which were remakes of models they had made back in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.  I worked for the Vice President in charge of Product Development, he asked me to put together a watch for Robin Williams because they needed a period looking watch for his upcoming movie (Dead Poets Society).  We also had the watch engraved to commemorate the movie.  I had never seen the watch again since 1988 until a few days ago when a picture of it turned up in a newsletter about the auction of Mr. Williams collectibles, it was nice to know that he held on to the watch all those years.  The watch model was the Hamilton Cabot.

Dead Poets Society Movie Trailer


Seeing that picture reminded me of other movies I had put watches together for.


Older version of a Sugar Bowl watch but the logo was the same. Also, the Hamilton movie watch was yellow gold-filled.

Also, back in the 1980’s when working at Hamilton I put a watch together for Dennis Quaid, the movie was called (Everybody's All-American).  They needed a 1950’s looking watch with the Sugar Bowl logo on the dial.  Hamilton still had a gold-filled, top loading automatic watch in their line that looked like a 1950’s or 60’s watch.   My department was also in charge of the logo watches they made back then, and Kenny Derr who had worked there since the 50’s had a bunch of old dials.  I was able to find an original 1950’s dial from is junk box.    I fit the old dial to the new watch and it looked just like an original watch that would have been given to the players back in the 50’s.  I wonder where this watch is today? Maybe Mr. Quaid still has it.

 Everybody’s All-American Movie Trailer

In the late 1990’s Albert Brooks who I had met at a watch show contacted me, he asked if I would supply a few watches for him to wear in his up coming movie (The Muse).  Of course, these were RGM watches, he wore an RGM 101M, and a stainless steel RGM chronograph in the movie.  If you look at the movie credits RGM is mentioned.  I am told Mr. Brooks still has these watches today.

The Muse Movie Trailer



Thanks for listening to my little walk down watch, and movie memory lane.


Roland Murphy

A Visit with my Friend Philippe Dufour

Here is a picture of me in June of this year visiting my old friend Philippe Dufour during my last trip to Switzerland.

I first met Philippe just a few years after starting RGM, this was back around 1993/94.  This was long before he was well known as he is today.  During my many trips to Switzerland back when I was younger I would often stop and see him, and spend a little time talking about watchmaking.  I remember visiting him at his house back when his workshop was in the attic, he had a computer in front of him and he was working on the CAD design of a perpetual calendar for Daniel Roth.  I remember him telling me that Daniel Roth ask him to make nice curves, he wanted classic beautiful shapes in his watch. Philippe would do some work back then for other watchmakers, like he did back in the day building Grande Sonnerie pocket watches for Audemars Piguet.

Under his own name Phillip built the first Grande et Petite Sonnerie wristwatch, then built his Duality wristwatch with dual escapements and balances, and then came his Simplicity.   You can read more about these watches in this article from my friends at Quill & Pad. https://quillandpad.com/2018/02/24/philippe-dufour-matters-not-secret-archive-2/

I took my wife by to see Phillip and see what he was working on.  He let me take a few pictures of his current project a Grande Sonnerie pocket watch very much like the ones he made many years ago for AP.  He also pulled out of his vault two of his Simplicty watches, number #000 and #001, the very first ones!

Philippe is the only person I know who calls me by my last name, he’s being doing if for more then 20 years. It makes me smile when I see him somewhere and hear “Murphy”!