September 2, 2012
by Paul Hubbard
This is the RGM 160. It is on the mid-to-upper range of RGM watch which don’t use in-house made RGM movements. With a versatile and useful set of complications from the ETA Valjoux 7751 automatic movement, this is a very attractive mix of having an American made watch with a Swiss movement. RGM is making their own movements now for the 801 handwinder and tourbillon, but have not ventured into other complications. Historically, the Swiss approach was to make modular movements and buy prepackaged complications from companies such as Dubois Dupraz and Soprod, I’ll be curious to see what route RGM takes in the future.
I asked to review one of their simpler watches, but when Rich countered by offering me a 160 to review, I jumped at the chance.
This is a triple-date, also known as ‘full calendar’ for the inclusion of day, date and month. It’s also a 12-hour chronograph and moonphase, all built on a nicely decorated ETA Valjoux 7751 movement.
As with RGM’s other high-end watches, you can usually assume it’ll a) have their honest-abe engine-turned dial and b) not be cheap. Both are true here, and this piece is all about the dial as other brands have pieces with 7751 movements.
I’ve seen lots of watches stamped to imitate guilloche, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in person. Up close, it’s quite something:
You can spend hours looking at this dial. There’s a lot to appreciate and it’s all superbly made. Blued hands and a champagne dial that changes color in different light.
The crystal is domed sapphire, which is super difficult to photograph. The caseback also includes a sapphire window to appreciate the movement:
Most watches with the 775x tend to run large, but the 160 is as svelte as I’ve seen, an amazing 38.5mm by 15.0mm to the top of the domed crystal. 20mm by 4.0mm non-tapering, five-link solid bracelet with butterfly deployant clasp, 6.7mm crown, a solid 192 grams with all of the links.
The watch comes with a non-scratching brass pusher to adjust the date, the button is recessed at eight o’clock as shown above.
The box is a very useful two-watch storage box with space for straps and such.
The butterfly deployant is well made but lacks micro-adjustments for size, a pet peeve of mine.
The feel is very dressy. Gorgeous mirror finishing, alternating with brushed on the links, and the same stepped bezel as my 151P:
So what’s it like to wear one?
First off, surprisingly comfortable. It’s thick for a dress watch, but with the stepped bezel and matching bracelet you notice less. The balance and comfort are both good, and you could reduce the weight quite a bit by wearing it with a strap instead. Secondly, the first impression you get is “instant family heirloom.” The triple-date is a look first seen in the 1950’s and sixties with the Valjoux 72 and similar movements, and that combined with the guilloche dial and Breguet hands is just utterly classic.
Other things of note: The movement has a 2-hand subdial at nine o’clock. The longer hand is actually the second hand, and the shorter is a 24-hour hand, basically showing AM/PM. The movement handwinds but does not hack, and the setting procedure is a bit more complex due to the triple date. There’s no lume, and the crown is non-screwdown, this is not a sports watch and you should keep it dry.
The triple date is a super useful complication, though to be honest I don’t much use the moon phase.
Triple-date movements come in four varieties:
In all cases, read the owner’s manual carefully, as it’s often possible to cause expensive damage by not following setting procedures. I also recommend the use of a watch winder, as a simple way to keep it set and running while not worn.
As you’d expect at this price, the watch is delightful to interact with. Pushers are crisp and definite, handwinding smooth, setting precise with no slop, and of course timekeeping is chronometer-grade.
I’m particularly struck by the classic diameter. The RGM 160 feels restrained and classic. Stylish, not fashionable, and I would wager long odds it’ll feel the same when your grandchildren inherit it. This is a watch for the ages. List price is $6,300 on a strap and $6,950 on the bracelet shown. That’s not cheap, though to be fair, it’s a fraction of what you’d pay for most comparable Swiss watches.
To paraphrase the movie, if you can afford to, I highly recommend picking one up.