RGM Model 25 Custom “Kauai”: Say Aloha To Extreme Guilloche
Every artist has core skillsets and techniques that find their way into the art they create, how much depends on their styles and genres. This is very much how pieces by historical artists are authenticated when a newly discovered one surfaces. The specifics of how artists create their works are very often unique because everyone does things just a little bit differently.
It may be the way they use a brush, chisel, or their bare hands; it could be material preferences or the order in which they craft the details. Some artists build up from a singular feature, some slowly bring an entire piece into focus, while others may work in a direction, only going back to adjust if necessary. The nuances of each artist helps distinguish each work of art as unique and can become fun to follow as an artist branches out into new styles or ideas.
Some artists, like Picasso, are a bit of an exception due to the extreme variety of styles, materials, and methods used over his entire career. He was so prolific and switched styles so often that it is hard to truly know if he was the original artist when something new turns up.
This was made even more difficult by the fact that he often refused to sign pieces, once even saying, “I can paint false Picassos just as well as anybody.” But outside of these rare cases, most artists have intrinsic signatures to their work beyond their actual signatures, and close inspection makes it obvious who the creator was.
The same goes for watches, especially custom pieces, as they often carry signature features of their creators.
One such piece is the RGM Model 25 Kauai, a commissioned custom watch featuring an awesome dial displaying the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i set amidst a sea of hand-guilloche waves. The Model 25 Kauai bears many traits straight from RGM and is an example of something aesthetically different yet chock full of familiar details.
RGM Model 25 “Kauai”
The customized “Kauai” begins with the RGM Model 25, a piece specifically designed to highlight the large dial that can sport a wide variety of custom artistic crafts. It is a traditional three-handed watch with no date or subdials, freeing up the entirety of the dial for decoration.
The bezel is minimal, and the pomme or cathedral-style hands allow a wide expanse for miniature painting, enamel, wood or stone marquetry, or unique guilloche.
In this custom version, the client strayed from the typical styles seen across a variety of Model 25s and custom pieces to go for something different that still shines with the hallmarks of an RGM piece. The outer edge of the dial sports an hour and minute ring, something often found on other traditionally inspired RGM pieces, but in this instance it was kept very minimal while maintaining the same style markers. However, the inner dial is the biggest deviation.
Instead of a simple guilloche pattern, we find waves depicting the Pacific Ocean carefully engraved with a hand-powered guilloche machine. These waves surround a gently brushed and laser-engraved map of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, the fourth largest and geologically second oldest island in the archipelago. Bordering the edge of the inner dial are gold plaques with the brand’s name at 12 and “Kaua’i” at 6 o’clock.
The only other aesthetic detail is a small bezel-set brilliant-cut diamond marking Po’ipu, a small beach town on the southern tip of the island. The simplicity of the design creates a high-contrast, clean dial highlighting the craftsmanship and details unique to RGM. The construction also exemplifies how a beautiful design doesn’t require extreme complexity to bring to life.
The dial itself is only made of two parts fitting very precisely together to allow for part replacement should one aspect of fabrication go wrong. The dial blank, outer ring, and island are all one piece with a recess to receive the guilloche waves. The island’s perimeter, or coastline if you will, is very detailed, requiring tight tolerances cut with wire EDM.
As the guilloche insert must fit perfectly around the island and within the outer hour ring, there isn’t room for imperfection. Only upon extensive magnification can you see the very small gap between the two components, making the waves seem to lap the island. The effect is even more impressive when you look at the realistic randomness of the guilloche waves.
The wave lines were completed using a straight-line guilloche engine, a special hand-driven machine that uses a combination of preset patterns and adjustment knobs to develop an infinite number of engravable designs cut in a straight line.
This differs from a rose engine, which cuts similar designs but in a circle or along an arc, though both operate along the same general concept. These machines allow for extremely precise repeating patterns to be created, which is sometimes the exact opposite of what an artist may want.
RGM’s craftsperson wanted to create a pseudorandom collection of wave-like lines, which required careful calculation of adjustments for each pass of the miniscule cutting blade so that the lines wouldn’t match and seem more natural. Looking closely, you can see that each wave line is a repeating pattern of a gentle up-and-down curve joined to a short peak, while each parallel line is offset a random amount to ensure that the curves and peaks aren’t perfectly aligned.
It may sound easy, but with the number of adjustments that guilloche requires for each pass, which are often repeated exactly for symmetrical patterns, it means that this requires even more attention because each adjustment can’t just be repeated over and over again. This is why guilloche that seeks to create an asymmetrical design and isn’t a repeating pattern demonstrates an extreme mastery of the craft.
And this is that ties the Model 25 “Kauai” to all RGM pieces: the attention to details and skilled craftsmanship that the brand employs.
The awesome wave guilloche was galvanically coated with a deep blue hue, while the island was laser engraved with some geographic feature lines, location names, and a compass rose.
Floating on the waves are two pink gold plaques, one bearing the RGM Watch Co. name and the other showcasing “Kaua’i.” The final touch is a matching pink gold bezel setting for a brilliant-cut diamond to mark a location on the map significant to the client.
The case is the regular Model 25 stainless steel case with fluted case band, polished to a bright shine and made in the USA. The design is all RGM; the stainless steel used is sourced in the USA; and the individual case components are machined and wire-cut less than ten kilometers (six miles) from RGM’s workshop. The brand’s own watchmakers and technicians do the final case finish, polish, and assembly.
The minimal hour-and-minute ring with only four Roman numerals, diamond-shaped markers for each five-minute mark, and micro dots for individual minutes keeps the dial from being overpowered by the time along the edge, something other Model 25 pieces can sometimes suffer from, at least according to my aesthetic preferences.
The entire presentation of the Model 25 “Kauai” is well balanced and feels as though there has been some design growth as it incorporates its stunning guilloche in a new way to create a meaningful piece for a lucky collector.
When you combine that with the fact that the case and all the dial components are American made, this adds hard-to-find exclusivity. It still boasts a Swiss made movement ébauche, but given the custom nature of the watch the price point is competitive for this level.
A similar custom Model 25 starts at just under $14,000 and would allow a wide variety of customization options that explore the artistic crafts alive and well at RGM.
I greatly enjoy the direction “the Kauai” goes and I will be super excited to see any future custom creations made in the small, converted bank building in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania!
While I wait, let’s break this island masterpiece down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.4 Seeing an island floating in guilloche waves is bound to make anyone say wowza!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 84» 823.759m/s2 I’m not sure if this watch makes me want the watch or want to visit Kaua’i more!
- M.G.R. * 45.0 A solid ETA movement can’t be scoffed at when the purpose of this watch is a showcase for artistic crafts!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A With the awesome craftsmanship on display I have no need or want for added complications so you can skip the Gotta-HAVE-That cream and just enjoy the show!
- Ouch Outline * 8.4 Pushing for a faster mile pace! When I started running again this spring, I was happy just to be feeling in better shape. But now that I’m in shape, I want to be faster and, boy, is pushing your legs to move faster harder than it sounds. Yet I’d gladly try to shave a minute or two off my mile pace if it meant getting this on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Kaua’i is lovely this time of year! I’ve wanted to visit Hawaii for years, and it seems that seeing this watch made me reignite that desire and a new corresponding affection for the Model 25 “Kauai”!
- Awesome Total * 832 First take the water resistance in meters (50) and multiply by the diameter of the case in millimeters (40), then multiply again by the case thickness (10.4) and finally divide by the model number (25) to get a worldly awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.rgmwatches.com/custom.
Quick Facts RGM Model 25 Custom “Kauai”
Case: 40 x 10.4 mm, American made stainless steel
Movement: automatic modified ETA 2892-A2 with custom gold rotor made by RGM, 44 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: commissioned unique piece
Price: similar custom Model 25s begin at $13,900