Fusing nostalgia with modernity
Names, design influences and physical attributes all intrigue me when I look at a new timepiece and this latest watch from RJ-Romain Jerome proves to be no exception. Firstly, there is the reference to 1969, the year my wife was born, albeit I am sure she won’t appreciate my broadcasting this fact. It was also the year that Apollo 11 landed on the moon, the first manned space mission to accomplish this feat.
Then there are two words, “Heavy Metal”, which conjure thoughts of petula oil, long hair and embroidered denim jackets. In my head, I can hear, “Smoke on the Water”, providing an insight into my age. Finally, the brand refers to the element silicon, sometimes referred to as silicium, which provides the basis for the dials.
The timepieces are available in three dial variants, blue, grey and brown. When presented with the three options, the blue immediately caught my eye and a pleasing union with my wrist soon ensued.
RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium – The Dial
Blue is a colour which has proved very popular in recent years. Often delivered in a dark, conservative shade, I have fallen under its spell on many occasions. However, RJ-Romain Jerome has selected a dial which is infused with a myriad of shades, some dark, some light, some appearing almost turquoise. The resultant canvas is both interesting and incredibly appealing.
RJ-Romain Jerome has treated the silicon with a “special PVD process” which imparts the chosen colour to the dial. The dial appears to have a wondrous depth even though it is actually flat. It is this optical illusion, employing different shades, which delivers much charm. The hour and minute hands have luminescent centres to their triangular tips. Moreover, their faceted rhodiumed hands are partly open-worked, exposing more of the dial surface beneath.
A rhodiumed chapter ring encircles the dial and incorporates hour markers. I particularly like the way the hour markers are presented in two different lengths, the longer batons being used for even hours and the short batons for odd hours. It is a small detail but pleasing nonetheless.
At 9 o’clock, a small seconds display features. It resembles the cross-hairs of a rifle scope, adding another style element which provides further visual intrigue.
RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium – The Case
I recently wore one of the brand’s Steampunk models which measured a colossal 50 mm in diameter. Surprisingly, I found this particular watch very comfortable, despite its behemoth dimensions. The 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium model is relatively restrained, by comparison, with a case diameter of 43 mm. This smaller size, whilst still remaining substantial, should prove appealing to a wider audience.
The steel case is satin-finished, delivering a muted tone against the flamboyant dial. The signature paws that hug the bezel, forming the maison’s emblematic X shape, are highly polished and provide an attractive contrast with the adjacent satin-finished surfaces.
The solid case back features a grainy stellar pattern and is decorated with a medallion made from the “RJ’s MoonSilverRJ”. This curiously named material is a silver alloy that has an extremely low oxidisation rate and incorporates moon dust. The alloy is said to acquire a patina with time.
While I find the notion of using moon dust intriguing, I do feel that the charm of horology is to share the inner workings of a timepiece with the wearer, courtesy of an exhibition caseback. The omission of an exhibition case back is something that I always view with a tinge of disappointment, albeit I do accept not all readers will agree with this horological foible I exhibit.
RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium – The Movement
The Caliber RJ003-A is a self-winding movement with a frequency of 28,800 kph (4Hz).
It features 30 jewels and has a power reserve of 40 hours.
RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium – Closing Remarks
This timepiece from the avant-garde brand is exceedingly attractive. RJ-Romain Jerome has judged the dial design to perfection, with a pleasing blend of different elements, some referencing the past, that harmoniously fuse together into a very handsome and contemporary watch. The resultant timepiece is very wearable. It sits comfortably on the wrist, is stylish and easy to read.
I appreciate not everyone will share my opinion about the styling of this timepiece. However, I do feel that a key strength of the RJ-Romain Jerome brand is that the company imbues its watches with adventurously styled detail. It avoids “playing it safe” with timepieces that resemble commercially popular watches sold by others. Indeed, the designs of this young brand provoke discussion through creativity and inventive aesthetics, proving edgy and exciting.
With a limited series of only 99 pieces in each dial variant (Sticker Price $10,500 USD or 8,950 €), I suspect these watches will be snapped up by would-be who share my liking for individuality and wonderfully imaginative dial design; a watch which fuses nostalgia and modernity with stylish aplomb.
RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium – Technical Specification
Model: RJ-Romain Jerome 1969 Heavy Metal Blue Silicium
Reference: RJ.M.AU.020.02 (Limited Edition: 99 pieces)
Case: Stainless steel, diameter 43.00 mm, water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres), sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
Functions: Hours, minutes, and small seconds.
Movement: Caliber RJ003-A, self-winding movement, frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz), 30 jewels, power reserve 40 hours.
Strap: Black alligator leather strap supplied on a stainless steel pin buckle