Romain Gauthier Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary With HMS Ten
Hanging around Romain Gauthier’s booth at Baselworld, it’s not unusual to see Philippe Dufour wandering in and out at will. Obviously, for anyone visiting the booth to see Romain and his new watches, this is quite an additional thrill.
Over the years, the two men hailing from Le Sentier, Switzerland have become quite friendly. In fact, you could almost say that Romain has become somewhat of a protégé for Dufour. In my book, that’s quite a feat . . . especially when you don’t have a certificate in watchmaking.
As you may have guessed by now, Romain Gauthier is not a certified watchmaker. He is a micro engineer with an MBA. And in 2015, Gauthier celebrates a milestone: ten years of his company’s existence as a boutique watch brand.
Kicking off the party, one of his introductions at Baselworld 2015 was the HMS Ten. “This is a kind of homage for me,” he explained in his typically reserved manner at Baselworld.
The attractive and somehow comforting look of this particular timepiece is dominated by a configuration of circles and arcs that approximate the classic, round watch. Variations in the dial finish comprising a smooth surface in the main dial at the center and hand-engraved clous de Paris-style guilloche to the left and right of the main dial provide interesting textures that are not immediately visible to the conscious eye. The golden, leaf-shaped hands are of perfect proportion and length.
Perhaps the best example of the cool engineering that has gone into this seemingly normal watch – and one that doesn’t really hit the eye immediately, but rather takes a while to register – is the fact that the crown is missing from its usual spot on the case band. This allows the design to fully unfold, becoming and remaining a perfect circle with nothing breaking its flow.
So where is the crown, then? It is actually placed flat on the case back. And here it not only enhances the design, but also increases winding efficiency as the energy does not need to be transmitted through a 90-degree angle. This placement also reduces wear and tear on components. Nonetheless, the large diameter and easy grippability of the crown enables the watch to be easily wound, even while on the wrist.
Don’t be fooled by the first-glance normality of the off-center hours and minutes with a sectorial seconds arc tucked off to one side; this watch is anything but ordinary. The classic-yet-different aesthetics surrounded by a graceful 41 mm case generally shield the clever mechanics that are only partially visible through openings in the dial. However, they are fully showcased through the sapphire crystal on the case back with the visually seductive Vallée de Joux-style finger bridges immediately attracting the eye.
The large movement bridge at the top includes a cutaway that puts some of the mainspring barrel and ratchet click on display. The cutaway itself features four highly polished, sharp internal beveled angles – this anglage reveals proof of the superlative hand-finishing in evidence throughout the movement since machines are not yet capable of polishing sharp internal angles.
And then there’s the regulating organ: with its distinctive curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights, the balance wheel designed and manufactured by Romain Gauthier oscillates in perfect harmony with the escapement, which features a high-efficiency triangular pallet lever – another Romain Gauthier invention.
As Gauthier’s very limited products are really the result of his mixed background and training – a juxtaposition of engineering and watchmaking with a little Philippe Dufour-style finishing thrown in for good measure – it would be folly to expect anything less than perfection in terms of functionality and finishing.
And so, the HMS Ten models (like most of Romain Gauthier’s timepieces) display the time within a contemporary, no-distraction setting and boast some of the very best finishing available in the watch industry – on par with other masters of this skill like Greubel Forsey and Kari Voutilainen.
With the exception of the mainspring, balance spring and jewels, the entire hand-wound, perfectly finished, and expertly designed caliber is designed, manufactured, and assembled in Romain Gauthier’s Le Sentier workshop.
For more information, please see Logical One Secret By Romain Gauthier: But Is It Art?, Heartbeat: Logical One By Romain Gauthier and visit www.romaingauthier.com.
Case: 41 mm in platinum, red gold, and white gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber HMS with 60 hours of power reserve and exceptional finishing
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (sectorial)
Limitation: three editions of ten pieces each in platinum, red gold, and white gold
Price: 48,000 through 58,000 Swiss francs depending on case material (without tax)