14 years after Romain Gauthier was founded, the independent watchmaker adds his first stainless steel model to the range...
In the transitional period between SIHH and Baselworld, Romain Gauthier announces today an evolution of one of their popular models in the range. The Prestige model from Romain Gauthier (RG) is actually a relatively tame model in the range when compared to the memorising details of the Logical One and of course the Insight-Micro Rotor (Easily one of my favourite watches from the independent side of horology). However, the latest addition looks to combine the versatility and popularity of stainless steel with a seriously impressive new dial...
First up, the dial on the HMS now favours a complete dial, hiding the balance wheel and seconds gear previously visible on older iterations. And, if there was ever going to be one dial that is incredible enough to hide such craftsmanship and watch making it could only have been this Henbury Meteorite.
Let's talk about the dial - The Henbury Meteorite
The meteorite used to make the dial is an octahedrite – an iron meteorite – Dating back to 1931 at the Henbury crater field in the Northern Territory of Australia. Meteorite enthusiasts out there will know that this is one of the country’s best-known meteorite impact sites.
The finished product we see here is not how the meteorite begins its life. It starts off as a relatively standard looking piece of grey metal. However, once the meteorite receives a nitric acid treatment intersecting bands of nickel-iron crystal are revealed forming the structure of the complete dial.
These structures formed during a long period of cooling within the parent asteroid.
When machining the dial an anti-corrosion treatment is applied to ensure its appearance will not deteriorate over time. Excluding this latest release from Romain, the only other known sample of this Henbury meteorite lives in the South Australian Museum of minerals, meteorites and rocks in Adelaide. If you want a truly unique and special watch, I think you might have found it...
Hands and further dial details
It's not just the dial and case that have been changed on the HMS - the hands are now less dressy, favour slim additions of luminescence and are made from blackened steel. These new changes really play with the dial and assist them to stand out from the meteorite backdrop on this 2019 release. White gold applied hour markers all get a dash of lume also, to further assist your wrist when wearing this piece in a range of environments.
A full breakdown of the stats...
Stainless steel case
43mm case width
Sapphire crystal with interior anti-reflection coating, front and display back
Flat crown on caseback for ergonomic winding, pulled out for time-setting
Water resistance: 10m
Dial and hands
Off-centre hour-minute subdial at 12 o’clock
Small seconds at 5 o’clock
Super-LumiNova-filled hour and minute hands in blackened steel
Small second hand in blackened steel
Super-LumiNova-filled white gold applique hour markers
Discovered at: Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve, Northern Territory, Australia
Year of discovery: 1931
Movement and finishing
In-house movement Calibre 2206 HMS
60 hours of power reserve
Finishing: Highest-level haute horlogerie hand-finishing
Treatment: Black NAC-treated bridges and rhodium-treated gears
Strap and buckle
Black alligator leather with satin-finished stainless steel pin buckle
10-piece limited edition
Price - 68,000 CHF (excluding tax)
The Prestige HMS
If you're not familiar with the Prestige HMS, I'll briefly explain a great feature which makes it such a fantastic model.
Looking at the piece head-on, you'll probably notice its lack of a traditional crown. That's because this model is wound using a ‘flat’ crown on the caseback. This actually is a lot more efficient because, unlike a traditional crown, energy isn't transmitted through 90°. The large diameter and profile of the crown enable effortless winding, even when wearing the watch. If the time needs to be changed, the crown is pulled out for time-setting.
"The crown system features a tiny ceramic ball and rubber spring. This combination handles the radial and axial forces exerted during winding and time-setting better than a conventional crown spring would, while the ceramic used for the ball is resistant to wear and reduces friction for smooth functioning. Two O-ring seals – one of which is oversized – provide the necessary waterproofing and dust protection, especially when the crown is pulled out to set the time."
The drive behind the HMS Prestige Stainless Steel
It seems this addition has a deeper connection for Romain Gauthier (both man and brand). This is heavily down to his personal upbringing and most noticeably, a household where rocks and minerals were in abundance thanks to his father's collection.
“My dad would often take me to mineral and gem fairs where he would buy the likes of agate, labradorite, quartz and desert rose. I think when you are a young boy, it is hard not to be fascinated by these objects, their stunning colours and shapes that, quite incredibly, have been made by nature.
“So when I first set eyes on this meteorite, the size of its crystal bands and the way they reflect the light, I knew that it was something special. It really stood out from the other iron meteorites that we are used to seeing. Immediately my thoughts turned to how I could use it for a special edition timepiece.” - Romain Gauthier
What do we think?
My initial first thoughts when seeing this watch were positive, and more specifically, how much I greatly enjoyed the incredibly striking and unique dial. This, combined with those blackened steel hands really gives the watch an almost rugged look, very impressive when you consider the sheer amount of bespoke watchmaking involved. I also love the individuality of each piece because of that dial, let alone in relation to the rest of the Romain Gauthier range.
Said dial emphasises a real connection to natural stones and formations, combine this with Romain's personal relationship with natural minerals, crystals and gems it all starts to make perfect sense...
Find out more about both Romain Gauthier and the HMS Prestige Stainless Steel here...