Today, Romain Gauthier announced its first series watch in stainless steel featuring a stunning dial crafted from ultra rare, visually arresting meteorite. Founded in 2005, Romain Gauthier is a very high-end independent watch brand based in the Vallée de Joux and led by its passionate founder Romain Gauthier. The new Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel is available in a 10-piece limited edition and its dial is crafted from an ultra rare Henbury meteorite. The meteorite used to make the dial is an octahedrite —an iron meteorite— that was discovered in 1931 at the Henbury crater field in the Northern Territory of Australia, one of the country’s best known meteorite impact sites.
This meteorite looks like a fairly ordinary chunk of grey metal until it is subjected to a nitric acid treatment that reveals intersecting bands of nickel-iron crystal, known as Widmanstätten patterns or Thomson structures. These structures formed during a long period of cooling within the parent asteroid.
Apart from the piece Romain Gauthier used, the only other known sample of this Henbury meteorite is housed in the South Australian Museum of minerals, meteorites and rocks in Adelaide. Its nickel-iron crystal bands, also called lamellae, produce a really eye-catching pattern. Depending on the angle at which the observer looks at the dial, the look of it changes and the many lamellae shimmer, lending the dial a real vivid look.
About the Dial
To make the dial, a combination of three-axe machining center and electrical discharge machining is used to a create a disc of the meteorite that is 33 mm in diameter and 0.8 mm thick. An anti-corrosion treatment is applied to ensure its appearance will not deteriorate over time.
Romain Gauthier himself was drawn to this meteorite because he grew up in a household surrounded by rocks and minerals collected by his father. He says: “My dad would often take me to mineral and gem fairs where he would buy the likes of agate, labradorite, quartz and desert rose. I think when you are a young boy, it is hard not to be fascinated by these objects, their stunning colours and shapes that, quite incredibly, have been made by nature. “So when I first set eyes on this meteorite, the size of its crystal bands and the way they reflect the light, I knew that it was something special. It really stood out from the other iron meteorites that we are used to seeing. Immediately my thoughts turned to how I could use it for a special edition timepiece.”
The HMS on the Prestige HMS name stands for hours, minutes and seconds. Hours and minutes are displayed in the large subdial at 12 o’clock, with a small off-centered seconds indicator at 5 o’clock. This 5 o’clock position makes for an easy reading of time: Once the wearer reads the hour-minute subdial, their eye is then naturally drawn to the seconds display. Readability doesn’t stop there. The hands are all in blackened steel, with the hour and minute hands filled with superluminova, while the white gold applied hour markers also feature this lume for greater legibility at night.
About the Case
Given the ferrous content of the meteorite dial, Romain thought it made perfect sense to pair the dial with a case also made from a ferrous substance such as stainless steel. This marks the first time he has created a series watch in this material. The 43 mm case is distinguished by pure, clean, unbroken lines around its full perimeter. It is the absence of a ‘normal’ crown protruding at 3 o’clock that signals something special might be going on around the back of the watch. The new Prestige HMS stainless steel is wound using a ‘flat’ crown on the case back. This increases winding efficiency because, unlike a traditional caseband crown, energy need not be transmitted through 90°. The large diameter and undulating profile of the crown enable effortless winding, even while on the wrist. The crown is pulled out for time-setting.
The crown system features a tiny ceramic ball and rubber spring. This combination handles the radial and axial forces exerted during winding and time setting better than a conventional crown spring would, while the ceramic used for the ball is resistant to wear and reduces friction for a smooth functioning. Two o-ring seals —one of which is oversized— provide the necessary waterproofing and dust protection, especially when the crown is pulled out to set the time.
Lastly, contrasting finishes have been applied to enhance the stainless steel case: The bezel and caseband are sumptuously polished, while the case back, crown and front and back of the lugs bear a subtle sheen, having been satin finished. The watch is relatively slender measuring 12.1 mm in thickness.
About the Movement
Turning the watch over reveals the exquisitely finished Romain Gauthier calibre 2206 HMS. This movement boasting a 60-hour power reserve was developed, produced, decorated, assembled and regulated at Manufacture Romain Gauthier in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. Virtually every component bears Romain's distinctive touch. The movement adheres to the watchmaking tradition of Romain’s native Vallée de Joux by mainly having one mobile for each bridge —a mobile being a gear on a pinion or shaft. These bridges feature polished, rounded bevels that have been meticulously created by hand, as well as hand-chamfered and hand-polished jewel countersinks.
The bridges and mainplate are black NAC-treated, but the straight-graining on the bridges makes them stand out against the hand-frosted mainplate, while the black NAC sets off the rhodium-treated, circular-grained gears. The gear recesses and backs of the bridges are spotted, while there is snailing on both sides of the mainspring barrel. In total, as many as 60 hours have been devoted to hand-decorating the movement, even those components that are not visible. The movement architecture is such that the observer can even see through the components to glimpse the disc of meteorite forming the dial.
The regulator features the Romain Gauthier balance wheel with curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights, plus hand-assembled pallet lever that is triangular for maximum rigidity. The gears possess circular spokes that provide elegance and strength, while the patented, high-efficiency profiles of the gear teeth are designed for optimal contact. The signature screw heads bear an S-slot that not only is aesthetic, but also enables more torque to be applied during movement assembly.
The new Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel is available in a limited edition of only 10 pieces and delivered on a black alligator leather strap with satin-finished stainless steel pin buckle.
Sticker Price CHF68,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $68,000 USD. For more info on Romain Gauthier click here.