US based RGM Watch Company launches 801 Corps of Engineers Watch, a fine hand wound mechanical watch featuring enamel dial.
When the United States joined “The Great War” in April 1917, British and French governments made the arrival of American engineers their top priority. By the end of August 1917, nine newly organized engineer railway regiments, recruited largely from the nation’s private railway workers, had arrived in France. Since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had adopted the General Railroad Timepiece Standards of 1893, they brought with them about 1,000 American-made Hamilton railroad watches that met those standards. Each watch incorporated several technical features to ensure easy winding, legibility and accuracy to within 30 seconds a week. In an effort to reduce reliance on transatlantic shipping routes, the AEF Quartermaster Corps chose to procure more watches from within Europe, ordering from several Swiss companies.
The original Corps of Engineer watches had real glass enamel dials, widely used in the watch industry at the time, though rare in modern watches. Since the beauty and depth of a real glass enamel dial cannot be simulated, the only way to achieve this classic look was to produce it in the same way. So the dial was designed and a master of the Grand Feu (French for “Great Fire”) technique was commissioned to make the enamel dials. Creating an enamel watch dial is a high risk art. Enameling is a technique in which colored 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 ups 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.
Similar to the original from which RGM drew its inspiration, the dial on the Corps of Engineers 801 is a work of art. The General Railroad Timepiece Standards of 1893 required that the watches have bold Arabic numerals on a white dial with dark hands. RGM’s model features an easily readable deep white glass enamel dial with large luminous numbers. The hands are also classically made of luminous blued steel in a period style to match the dial and design of the complete watch. The luminous material on the dial and hands is non-radioactive SuperLumiNova.
Under this extraordinary dial and hands is RGM’s original in-house American movement: Caliber 801. Inspired by America’s great watchmaking history, the 801 has classic bridge shapes, hand polished or blued steel components, and is entirely hand-finished and decorated. The movement can also be customized at the client’s request.
The watch is housed in a 316L stainless steel brushed pilot-style case. The flat winding crown compliments the vintage design.
RGM Caliber 801, Manual winding, American-made
Rhodium or Gold Plated
7-tooth winding click
Optional wolf’s tooth winding wheels available
Power Reserve:40-44 hours
316L brushed stainless steel
Width between lugs: 22mm
Crown: Stainless steel
Curved sapphire crystal front
Flat sapphire crystal back
Water-resistant to 5ATM
Grand Feu (“Great Fire”) white enamel
Super-LumiNova Arabic numerals
Luminous blued-steel hands
Brown Tuscan calfskin
Strap – US$9700
Bracelet – US$10450