RGM Watch Co. is the brand that brought legitimate watchmaking back to America, creating ground-up, in-house movements such as the tonneau-shaped Caliber 20, 801 Calibre and Pennsylvania Tourbillon. Other brands such as J.N. Shapiro and Weiss Watch Company have since produced American calibres, but CEO Roland Murphy started the revival in 1992, creating the company in Pennsylvania that bears his initials. Not all RGM watches have in-house calibres as some carry ETA automatics, allowing for more affordable entries in his portfolio. The latest model falls into this category, the RGM Model 600 Chronograph that sports an ETA/Valjoux 7753. It’s a retro, military-style chronograph that fits in well with the brand’s other pilot collections.
This isn’t RGM’s first chronograph and the current Model 455 Classic Chronograph carries a similar price with a Valjoux 7750 automatic. Those models are throwbacks to the 1940s, while the new Model 600 Chronograph is modelled after military pilots watches from the 1960s and 1970s. The 316L stainless steel case is 42mm in diameter and 12.4mm in height (14mm with crystal), which for many is ideal for a modern chronograph. It shares many design elements with other RGM pilot watches such as the shape of the lugs and crown but differs completely from the Model 455 chronograph.
The case has a satin-brushed finish with simple pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, and the crown is flat and slightly oversized. A no-nonsense approach for military applications. The lug width is 22mm and the strap is vintage brown leather with white stitching. The dial is protected by a raised box-style sapphire crystal, a first for the company that reinforces the classic design with distortions at sharp angles. The case back is also solid for a classic look and water resistance is rated at 100 metres.
The dial is matte black with all dial elements in a contrasting white, again suitable for pilots and other military applications. The oversized Arabic numerals replicate fonts from the 1960s/1970s era and have X1 Super-LumiNova, which also coats the classic syringe hour and minute hands. The bicompax layout features a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and the central chronograph seconds hand is white. There’s no date window to keep things traditional and this simple, highly legible dial is perfect to read the time or counter at a glance, day or night.
Powering the watch is an ETA/Valjoux 7753 automatic chronograph with 27 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) and a 48-hour power reserve. The movement is a bit modified as it’s designed for three sub-dials and a date at 6 o’clock (with its own recessed pusher). It’s also rhodium-plated and decorated with Côtes de Genève, but again hidden behind the solid case back.
The RGM Model 600 Chronograph retails for USD 4,250, which is certainly pricier than other pilot’s chronographs from Longines or Hamilton. Of course, RGM is much smaller and isn’t a subsidiary of a conglomerate like the Swatch Group. So, given RGM’s limited American production, the price is indeed reasonable. The chronograph is available to order now at RGM’s webstore. For more information, visit the RGM website.