‘Haute Horlogerie‘, ‘in-house manufacture‘, ‘made by hand‘ are terms too often used by brands only for marketing reasons. When it comes to really appreciate the beauty of a hand polished internal angle, of a balance wheel designed in-house, of a black polished screw-head, the number of candidates able to achieve such a level of detail is considerably lower than brochures would have you believe. Philippe Dufour, Kari Voutilainen or Roger W Smith are members of the (extremely) small bunch of watchmakers worthy of such honors. However, who recently unveiled his latest creation, the new HMS Ten.
Romain Gauthier is a man that we already know here, as we introduced to you the superb (an it’s kind of an understatement) Logical One, with its fuse-chain mechanism and its astonishing finishing. You have to understand that Romain Gauthier’s movements are entirely conceived, developed, designed, produced, finished, assembled and regulated in-house, in the old tradition of prestigious and traditional horology. To celebrate its 10th anniversary and 10 years of making Haute Horlogerie, Romain Gauthier just introduced the HMS Ten.
Actually, we are talking about 3 editions:
- A platinum case with blue guilloché dial, movement finished in grey – limited to 10 pieces
- A 18k red gold case with champagne guilloché dial, movement finished in black – limited to 10 pieces
- A 18k white gold case with black guilloché dial, movement finished in gold – limited to 10 pieces
The HMS (hours, minutes, seconds) is an apparently simple watch but in fact is an intrinsically complicated one, that gains all its interest with finishings and details. The case is reasonably sized at 41mm and discreetly decorated (full mirror polishing) in order to concentrate the debate on the dial and movement.
The dial is composed of 3 areas: an off-centered hours and minutes dial, surrounded by a ‘clou de Paris’ engine-turned belt. The second area is a small second, which overlaps the main dial… But only partially, in order to leave some space and to not hide the view on the third area. On the lower portion of the subdial, sectorial seconds allows visual access to the movement below, with the balance wheel and distinctive gear driving the seconds on show. The three parts of the dial are fixed invisibly from beneath, for a clean and legible result.
If the dial already show some of the spectacle, the unabridged story can be found. And what a story to be told. We’re talking about pure horological sweetness here. Just to have an idea of the level of work made by Romain Gauthier, take a look at a close-up on an angle and a wheel – source: HH Magazine, article here.
When you turn over the Romain Gauthier HMS Ten, you discover something you probably didn’t notice before: a large horizontal crown. Take a look back at the pictures, at the beginning of this article. We’re pretty sure that you didn’t notice the lack of a crown at first glance. In order to gain purity, Romain Gauthier decided to move the crown to the back. Placing the crown flat on the caseback also increases winding efficiency because energy does not need to be transmitted through 90°. It also reduces wear and stress on components, as well as improving comfort. The large diameter of the crown also enables the watch to be easily wound, even while on the wrist.
Now, take a look at the bridges. The large movement bridge on the top has a cut-out revealing some of the mainspring barrel and ratchet click. This aperture features four highly polished, sharp internal bevelled angles – this anglage is the hallmark of superlative hand finishing since machines are not yet capable of milling and polishing sharp internal angles. The bottom part of the movement reveals 3 finger-bridges that hold the first wheel, the escapement wheel and the balance wheel. Once again, all of them are finished with internal bevelled angles, black polishing and polished and bevelled screw-slots and screw-heads.
The wheels that compose the gear train are also noticeable, with their circular arms instead of the regular 2, 3 or 4 straight arms. Once again, this profile improves strength but also means a more difficult finishing by hand because no machine can finish small parts with these curves. The balance wheel is also specific to the brand, with distinctive curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights, designed, manufactured and assembled in-house by Romain Gauthier.
This impressive, almost unique sense of detail is what Romain Gauthier is known for. In this context, who really cares about the 60-hour power reserve or the 28.800bph frequency. What we know is that this young watchmaker (40 years old) is totally imprinted by traditional haute horlogerie (he was one of Philippe Dufour’s students), with a modern visual approach and modern technical solutions. This HMS Ten is certainly the best way to say: Happy birthday and please, continue!
More details on Romain Gauthier’s website.