The iconic arcade games of the 1980s live on in a pair of unconventional Swiss-made watches from Geneva-based Romain Jerome, a brand that has delighted in marching to its own creative drummer, and celebrating both history and pop culture, since its founding in 2004. After crafting timepieces inspired by the 1969 moon landing, the wreck of the Titanic, the eruption of an Icelandic volcano, and the Statue of Liberty, Romain Jerome launches watches based on Space Invaders and Pac-Man, two games at the forefront of the video-game revolution.
The Space Invaders watch — whose dial echoes the screen of the landmark electronic game by Japan’s Taito, the very first with a “killer application” on a fixed console — uses the distinctive case of RJ’s Moon Invader collection, a round shape inside a 46-mm square with four functional ball-and-socket joints on the corners. The corners evoke the legs of the lunar a landing module, and the steel used in the case, as in other Moon Invader models, contains fragments of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. The rubber strap attaches to axles in the lugs to ensure an adjustable fit for any size wrist. The caseback is made of “moon silver,” an alloy with a low oxidation rate that includes fragments of actual moon rocks.
The complex dial has three layers, the bottom and middle layers are bead-blasted and the top is straight-grained, giving it a “pixelated” look that approximates the video screen of the 1980s game. The small “Space Invaders” measure around 3.5 mm each and are individually machined. There are five versions in total, each limited to eight pieces, with the Space Invaders figures executed in red, green, purple, yellow or blue. The U.S. retail price is $17,900.
The other new watch resurrects the game that became an even bigger pop-culture phenomenon in the Reagan decade, Namco’s Pac-Man. The watch’s case has all the attributes of the Space Invaders model, and its dial also has two bead-blasted levels and a topmost one with straight-grained edges. Each level is engraved with a pixelated matrix. The top level features meticulously crafted figures from the famous Pac-Man game screen, including Pac-Man himself, the four ghosts that pursue him through the maze, and the fruits that he gobbles up for energy and points. Each of these pieces is individually machined and gem-set, and lacquered with various colors or with black Super-LumiNova that glows green. Each dial emulates an actual game sequence.
The Pac-Man model comes in four models of 20 pieces, for a total limited edition of 80 pieces, in four color combinations. Each is priced at $16,900.
Both of these “geek chic” watches are brainchildren of Romain Jerome CEO Manuel Emch, an admitted former game addict who came of age in the heyday of Pac-Man Fever and Space Invaders mania. The company described the limited-edition timepieces as “an authentic homage to late-20th century pop culture” and their audience as those “for whom age has proved the only cure for their juvenile game dependency.”
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