This brand really knows how to celebrate an anniversary...
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Romain Gauthier. It is fitting, then, that the Swiss watchmaker’s latest creation, Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette, calls on an area of craftsmanship for which he and his team have been heralded since the birth of the brand in 2005: hand-finishing.
By opening up and stripping down his high-end, time-only automatic calibre, Romain has created a truly contemporary skeleton watch that is a technical and artistic tour de force. Not only do the skeletonised, ultra-light natural titanium bridges and mainplate help to reveal the mesmerising mechanics of the in-house movement, they also provide the perfect platform for the Romain Gauthier anglage specialists to demonstrate their immense skills. For each Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette movement features as many as 250 hours devoted to anglage alone, that’s to say the bevelling, softening, smoothing and polishing by hand of the bridges and mainplate, in an extraordinary demonstration of watchmaking artistry.
“If you skeletonised my first movement Prestige HM/HMS, there would be sizable voids leaving little to see except the hair on your wrist, and that’s not ideal,” says Romain. “The open architecture of my Logical One means that if you opened it up even more, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to view more of the mechanics than what you can already see. However, my Insight Micro-Rotor jumps out as a natural fit for skeletonisation.” Says Romain Gauthier
Romain’s design for opening up the Insight Micro-Rotor entailed skeletonising the mainplate and eight bridges that, until now, have been made in solid brass. At the thicknesses he envisaged, going as thin as 0.7mm, skeletonised brass bridges wouldn’t have necessarily held up. Grade 5 titanium, however, offered the requisite strength and a lightness that could reduce the overall weight of the movement to 15.95g, the ability to look good naturally without the need for galvanic deposition, and the ability to be hand-polished. All the same, machining titanium has its challenges.
If machining the titanium mainplate and bridges of Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette has its challenges, they pale in comparison to the challenges of hand-finishing them. For this skeletonised movement calls on a particular savoir-faire for which Romain and his team have garnered plenty of plaudits since the brand was founded in 2005: anglage, or the art of bevelling, softening, smoothing and polishing components by hand.
It takes one Romain Gauthier anglage specialist no fewer than 250 hours to bevel, soften, smooth and polish by hand the natural titanium mainplate and eight bridges needed for one Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette.
In fact, when you add up all the hours devoted to decorating the entire movement by hand or by hand-operated tools – including anglage, hand-frosting, polishing countersinks, circular graining, straight graining and snailing – it comes to over 350 hours of work (that is just over 2 months in working hours, just on decorating the movement…)
Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition
Case width: 42mm x 12.9mm at highest point
Movement: In-house, automatic movement , Superlatively hand-finished, skeletonised mainplate and bridges in natural titanium 22k gold bidirectional micro-rotor, double mainspring barrel in series giving 80-hour power reserve
Water resistance: 50m
Functions: Off-centre hours, minutes and small seconds
Strap: Natural rubber strap
Availability: Exclusively through Manufacture Romain Gauthier
Price: CHF 155,000
Seeing this release in my inbox recently put a huge smile on my face. I have a certain affection for Romain Gauthier and I always love seeing what the experienced, friendly and talented team behind the brand release as they continue to push their own boundaries. In my eyes, up until now the Insight Micro-Rotor has always been a unique watch with a certain special ‘pop’ to it through thanks to the look into the movement. However, the new skeletonised model with the Carbonium case and that bold rubber strap almost completely re-imagines the watch and shows that art comes in many forms. It feels dishonest to say I always love what Romain Gauthier creates but with every release from them, I don’t think I can deny it any longer. Yet again, Romain Gauthier continues to amaze.
To find out more about Romain Gauthier (both the man and the watch brand) check out our interview with him here.