Some watches grab you immediately: a burst of color, eye-catching case shape, unusual hands or perhaps a new design. This RGM does just the opposite: at first look it's plain to the point of boring. Sparse dial, simple hands, simply shaped case, onion crown. More than most watches, though, the 151P rewards close study.
Beautifully polished case, an unusual stepped bezel and perfectly made onion crown. On the dial, notice that the minute track is four segments, with a lumed triangle at 3, 6, 9 and 12. The hour hand just reaches the step of the dial inset, the minute hand reaches out into the track and is the same length as the ultra-slim second hand. Hands and dial ink are a matched shade of off-white, and the dial is a deep matte gray.
Simple polished rehaut, no branding here. Notice also how RGM put the 24-hour indications inside the minute ring; perhaps the cleanest I've seen to date.
At 38.5mm by 9.8mm, this is a slim and light watch. The bezel is ultra-thin, making the watch face as large as possible.
The case finish is drop-dead gorgeous; a mirror or 'black' finish is one of the most difficult to achieve. Ask anyone who's tried to make their own telescope! Here you can see the simple lines of the case and lugs, evenness of finish and the screw-down stepped bezel that is one of the few flourishes.
The RGM came on a light brown Camille Fournet alligator strap, which I disliked. I put it on a spare Milanese mesh that I think suits the watch much better. With 20mm lugs, there are lots and lots of options to choose from.
Inside the 151P is a Top-grade ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement with RGM-logo rotor.
It wears magnificently. At 9.8mm thick, it's not Altiplano thin, but it still goes under the tightest cuffs with ease. Visibility is excellent, and legibility even better. At night, the hands and triangles are lumed with high-grade SuperLuminova, for an easy eight hours of reading. Oddly, and this is one thing I'd change, the only lume on the dial is the triangles, so at night reading the precise time is nearly impossible.
RGM is Roland G Murphy of Lancaster, PA. It's a small American company that makes 300-500 watches per year. From that, you can expect that no one else around you will have an RGM, and also that no-one will recognize it. A very stealthy nice watch. You can read an interview with Roland here with more background on the company. They've recently introduced their own in-house movement and tourbillon but the 151P sports the more affordable ETA 2892-A2. Timekeeping is chronometer-grade at -3 to -4 per day, and any watchmaker can easily regulate it.
List price on the 151P ranges from just under $2450 for the base model to $3750 for the titanium version. You can get it with or without date, and various combinations of logo and text. For what you get, I consider this a excellent value.
It takes some patience to warm up to the 151P. I think a lot of us are initially drawn to complex watches with color and shape, and that appreciating this simplicity takes time and effort. It reminds me of the craft museum in Kyoto, where you learn of the extreme care put into the simplest-seeming things, or maybe a Zen rock garden. The plainness makes for a versatile design; on a mesh it's a bit sporty, and on a plain black calfskin it'd go very well with a tuxedo. Just a classic, understated design.