RGM Marks 20 Years With Third In-House Caliber

RGM Caliber 20 watchRGM, the pioneering Pennsylvania-based watch brand founded in 1992 by Roland G. Murphy, turns 20 years old in 2012. Murphy commemorated the anniversary in the manner he knows best: by developing his brand’s third in-house mechanical movement, called Caliber 20, and outfitting it in a new watch that RGM introduced at January’s Geneva Time Exhibition.

Caliber 20 joins its predecessors, RGM’s groundbreaking Caliber 801 in 2008 and the MM2 Pennsylvania Tourbillon movement in 2010, in the exclusive fraternity of “Made in the U.S.A.” watch movements manufactured entirely at Murphy’s small atelier in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, a traditional center of watchmaking since the 1800s.

Fittingly, the watch’s movement incorporates a distinctly American technological touch, one nearly lost to antiquity: the so-called “motor barrel” system. An American invention, the motor barrel (illustration below the watch photos) was designed to reduce friction and wear in the mainspring barrel surfaces, thus transmitting power more efficiently. According to Murphy, motor barrels were commonly used in the movements of top-grade American-made railroad watches of yesteryear, such as the Illinois Bunn Special and Hamilton 950.

The RGM 20th Anniversary Watch has a polished, stainless steel, tonneau case measuring 42.5 x 38.5 mm, with a sapphire crystal in the front and back. The case, like the movement, is made at RGM’s atelier. The dial, made of solid silver, is available in a skeletonized (shown) or full guilloché version. Hours and minutes are indicated by two blued steel hands with keystone-shaped tips to represent Pennsylvania. The running seconds are displayed on a rotating disk at the top right of the dial and a precise moon-phase indicator is installed in the lower left.

Caliber 20 is a manual-wind movement with 19 jewels and a frequency of 18,000 vph. Like other RGM in-house movements, it boasts an array of decorations, including cotes de Geneve, perlage and anglage, in addition to the novelty of the motor barrel system. The watch, which comes on a brown or black Louisiana alligator strap, is a relative bargain compared to others with in-house mechanical movements, starting at $19,500. Murphy says he can produce the watch with a gold case, for a higher price, on request.

RGM Caliber 20 watch front

The RGM 20th Anniversary watch, with new in-house Caliber 20, front (above) and back (below).

RGM Caliber 20 watch caseback

RGM Motor Barrel graphic

A diagram of the motor barrel device in Caliber 20

 






About Mark Bernardo

Mark Bernardo is the digital media editor of WatchTime magazine, responsible for developing and overseeing the editorial content on WatchTime.com as well as for WatchTime's tablet editions for the iPad, Nook, and Kindle. As WatchTime's managing editor, from 2006 through 2011, he has written about numerous watch companies from major brands like Omega, TAG Heuer and Piaget, to exclusive artisan lines such as Jean Dunand, De Bethune and DeWitt. Prior to joining WatchTime, he was the editor of Smoke, a lifestyle magazine for cigar enthusiasts, whose beats included cigars, watches, cars, wines and spirits, celebrities, men's fashion, and other subjects, and has written about luxury items for a variety of men's-interest publications, including Robb Report, Robb Report Motorcycling, Stratos, Worth, and Bloomberg Markets.

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