Every single day we see watches from every corner of the industry and from all areas of watchmaking. Whether it be super-complex avant-garde watches or elegance encased in a dress watch, we see it all. But, in all fairness, this comes at a price which usually runs in the thousands. That is exactly what the new Kickstarter-launching brand Rumoe has in mind to tackle: offering their luxurious-looking timepieces, but at a very affordable price. Their premiere watch is called the Nobel Royal, and we had the chance to experience it hands-on!
These are tough times to start a new brand from scratch, even if you outsource (most of) the parts or movement, and it is not uncommon to seek refuge on Kickstarter in order to get your brand going. You could debate whether this is in the spirit of traditional watchmaking and historical reference, but I am one to applaud properly designed and executed products and campaigns. However, when we cover these on Monochrome, we tend to be a little bit extra critical a) in what we cover and b) in how we feel about the brand or product. Nevertheless, if we feel like covering it there is something there to begin with!
History & Background
First off, a little bit about Rumoe as a brand because few of you have probably heard about it yet. Rumoe was started as an initiative by a group of dedicated watch lovers (including the aptly named IFuckingLoveWatches) and they set out to build a proper dress watch, with automatic movement, at a very strong price (a.k.a. sub 1000 euro’s). Founded in Sweden, not the first country we think of when it comes to watchmaking (even though we all know Halda and Gos), the Rumoe Nobel Royal is the company’s first offering. Built upon the restraint of Scandinavian design codes, the Rumoe Nobel Royal is a no-frills watch. No messing about with difficult to pronounce features, or over-the-top indications here. No, it’s a clean and classy dress watch with a few interesting details and utilizing classical elements.
Once a serious force to be reckoned with when it came to conflicts, Sweden now has a reputation of being a prosperous, stable and peaceful country with a high standard of living, a keen eye for tradition and a very familiar approach to design. (It is not without reason Ikea is popular all over the world, is it?) On another note, if you look at the current line-up of Volvo’s (XC90, S90/V90) you know what I am talking about. Superb craftsmanship and never “shouty” or over the top. A certain degree of restraint seems to elevate design even further.
Its name hints towards the Nobel Prize, the annual award bestowed upon notable scientific or cultural significance initiatives since 1901. This is of course named after Alfred Nobel, probably the most famous Swede to date, best known for the “discovery” of dynamite.
Well, being a dress watch, it is free of any unnecessary clutter on the dial. A few of you might find this boring, but there is absolute beauty in a well-proportioned, restrained design. Elegance or class can be considered a feature in itself really, as it is quite a challenge to hit that proverbial balance nail on the head. There are many examples of watches that claim to be a dress watch but somehow fail to hit all criteria really. Too large, too thick, too many indications, not the right proportions, some with too fancy hands, you name it and we see it.
When examining the Rumoe Nobel Royal first hand, it seems that, initially, they have succeeded in ticking all the boxes that make a dress watch a dress watch. It features central hours, minutes and seconds, and a date indication, but that is it. No more, no less. Some might argue that a date window is already too much for a true dress watch, but hey, to each their own. I find it a helpful addition to a watch’s day-to-day use.
Case & strap
The steel case (or rose gold plated) of the Rumoe Nobel Royal measures 40mm across. Yes, this is a few millimeters too large for those nitpicking watch aficionados that consider a true dress watch to be 35-38mm wide, but it looks a little smaller than it actually is. At 11.5mm thick it is also slim enough to fit under a cuff when wearing a well-cut suit and shirt. The height of the Rumoe Nobel Royal is aided by the snap-in caseback, featuring an engraving of a silhouette of Stockholm. The statue you see is a horse-riding Swedish king wielding a sword and pointing it to The Church of Knights (Or Riddarkyrkan in Swedish). It is Sweden’s oldest preserved building and the burial place of all Swedish Kings to date. Honestly, as much as I like the nod to Swedish folklore, heritage and history, the caseback should have been screw-in. It feels a little too flimsy to me.
In terms of finishing, the case features a polished steel bezel and a case with brushed sides and polished top, including polished lugs. These lugs are proportioned quite ok, but I would have seen them being a bit slimmer to be honest. They are angled downward nicely, with the top part turning in just like the lugs on an Omega Speedmaster for instance (just a bit less sharp). It’s a nice touch, which adds to the feel of elegance a bit. The section of the mid-case between the lugs is polished, in contrast to the brushed sides.
The strap is plain or crocodile patterned calf leather, either black or brown. Again, nothing fancy, nothing exotic, but a fitting look and feel considering the package and the price of the watch. It is attached on a double folding buckle, which takes a bit of effort to snap in place. And, subsequently, if you snap the short end in to place, the buckle-and-tang closure that holds the long part of the strap sometimes unhinges. This could very well be a quality-control issue, but it bothered me a bit.
Dial & hands
As said, the dial is restrained, as a classically designed dress watch needs to be. You can choose a black or white dial, in either the steel or rose gold plated steel case. Both dials are flat, with steel or rose gold applied hour markers, hands and date window. A double hour marker on top to indicate noon/midnight with the Rumoe logo and name below that complete the markings really (except for the “automatic” notification in the bottom part).
The date disc underneath the dial is the same color as the dial itself, with white markings (on the black dialed watches and black on the white dialed versions). The font for the date disc is nicely done, sharp and thin so it doesn’t distract from the main dial too much but is still legible enough.
The dauphine hands, a very traditional type of hands and often used in dress watches, are done in steel and lack any luminous coating (as the should!). No need for night time visibility here; wouldn’t suit the watch at all. The length of the hands is well proportioned, and leads out to the edge of the dial (the minute and seconds hands at least, the hour hand is shorter of course) to follow the minute/seconds track.
In most of these Kickstarter campaigns that operate in the sub-1k segment of the industry, you will find non-Swiss movements. Rumoe opted to go for a Seiko movement though, which is a smart decision. The Seiko NH35 caliber is a basic, but reliable one. Again, no frills here, just good, solid watchmaking. Seiko is known for their virtually bulletproof movements, and all in-house of course!
The Seiko NH35 is also fitted in the recently reviewed Elegantsis JKS Basic watch and in the unusual Lyttlabs Inception. It offers hand winding, and hacking seconds but not much more than that. Capable of running 41 hours once fully wound, it is a true workhorse, more than capable enough to carry you through everyday use. The movement isn’t specifically beautiful in terms of finishing or decoration so the enclosed caseback is a smart choice. One minor detail however, is that the winding of the rotor is loud, most likely due to that snap-on caseback not providing the sound-proofing like a screw-in version.
I started this review with the statement that the Rumoe Nobel Royal ticks most of the boxes to be labeled as a dress watch and I still stand by that statement. Yes you may argue that it is slightly too large and yes it might fall short in some finishing details but still, it is a well-rounded, classically designed watch. It is very affordable, starting at just US$199 during the campaign, will likely be a reliable and versatile piece. Overall it looks the part, is nicely proportioned and only has a few touches that somewhat let it down. The snap-in caseback and the dodgy folding buckle for instance, even though that latter one could be down to quality-control. So does it hit that aforementioned proverbial nail on the head? No, not entirely but at this price level, it comes awfully close. For more information, go to Rumoe.com or their Kickstarter campaign.
Specifications – Rumoe Nobel Royal
- Case: 40mm x 11,5mm steel or rose gold plated steel – sapphire crystal – snap-in caseback with engraving – Rumoe signed crown – polished and brushed surfaces
- Movement: Seiko NH35 with automatic winding – 27.40mm x 5.32mm – 21’600 vibrations/h – 41h power reserve – 24 jewels – central hour minutes and seconds – date disc at 3 o’clock
- Strap: plain or crocodile printed leather – black or brown – double folding buckle
- Price: starting at US$199 during the Kickstarter-campaign