OK, so before you begin reading this I need you to start the above video of a choir rendition of "America the Beautiful." The video has some cheesy imagery of course, but interestingly sums up my swelling patriotic pride in America's first made (and designed) tourbillon movement. It is no surprise that this comes straight from Pennsylvania at RGM. The brand recently announced America's first made and designed watch movement (in a long time), and now its very first tourbillon. Hailing from Lancaster county, it is funny how this innovation in the American watch industry stems from a place where much of its population is living in the past. I am of course referring to the wealth of Amish that live out there.
It is an interesting framework for watch making in general. While new inventions and innovations are regularly announced from around the world, it is at its heart, a super retro industry. So for ultra developed America (relatively speaking) to finally come out with a complication it could have mastered a long time ago if it put effort in it is rather ironic. It speaks about our efficient and practical minds as Americans (before you go on a rant just think about it and how we have more or less rejected a lot of the "why do they do that" traditions of other countries"). This mentality often results in shunning fancy artisan work on a mass level like tourbillon movements that are more or less made solely for the sake of beauty, complexity, and tradition. A tradition that America has lost long ago, and is slowly regaining in certain communities.
The RGM Pennsylvania Tourbillon Calibre MM 2 movement is based on the RGM Calibre 801 (which itself borrows design elements from classic American made pocket watches - think prior to 1900). As a tourbillon the movement is lovely in design and decoration. RGM has created over the last several years a bona fide classic watch makers workshop. Though only recently has the brand been very interested in being serious movement makers. This is a direction the brand is moving in, in addition to creating beautifully decorated movements using classic guilloche machine engraving. Those wise in the ways of movements will quickly look at the Pennsylvania and realize that while it is similar to Swiss, French, or German movements, it has a uniqueness to the design, and looks to have elements taken from all parts of watch movement making history.
The movement is large and so is the diameter of the tourbillon. Material in the movement include German silver (not actually silver), gold, silver, and steel. It is made to be fitted into a 43mm wide case (available in steel or gold). Like some popular Swiss watches these days, the watch case will have a side mounted sapphire crystal near the tourbillon for a better view of the movement. While the watch itself hasn't been shown yet, I imagine that the dial will be very classic, and also have a large amount of guilloche machine engraving. The watches will no doubt feel similar to those decorated in Germany as Benzinger. Then again, you'll look at the movement as see the interesting "T" icon that represents Pennsylvania.
The final watch that will be the RGM Pennsylvania Tourbillon has yet to be released. It will be debuted in the middle of June though. While this isn't the most complex tourbillon in the world, it is nicely made with 100% American elbow grease. The first one ever, and better late to the game than never. So listen to "American the Beautiful" and think of those proud stars and stripes when looking at this new classic looking, thoroughly American calibre. Price starts at $75,000 for the watch in a steel case. $95,000 in gold, and $125,000 in a platinum case. Ask yourself, how much of a patriotic watch lover are you?
[Update: July 8, 2014 - While we value the quality of their product, in light of recent events, aBlogtoWatch will no longer cover RGM products and cannot endorse RGM as a company. - Ed. ] What's This?