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Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It takes a lot for a timepiece to be truly controversial. I am not just talking about people arguing whether a design is pretty or not. I mean a real discussion on whether the concept and construction of the watch is in good taste. Few people have been able to pull this off, and in the watch industry one man has been able to do it a few times – Yvan Arpa. For me, this watch sums him up, as well as the legacy he left behind during his time at Swiss watch brand Romain Jerome.

During the height of the most modern economic boom, Romain Jerome was little more than a quirky brand that sold golf-themed timepieces. The problem was that most golfers didn’t want to wear a watch (or a bulky one) while playing the game. The owners brought in Yvan Arpa who decided to create a watch that combined a few things: luxury, rarity, and unattainability. It also had to involve something that people all over the world would know about. An idea he settled on was the most famous sunken ship ever, the Titanic.

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

He imagined a collection called the Titanic-DNA. A steampunkish watch that was said to contain parts from the Titanic. Some people were shocked by the idea, and others thought that it was “pretty cool.” On more than one occasion I had to hear people speak of how horrified they were than someone would disgrace the memories of the people who lost their lives in the tragedy by making a watch with parts from the ship. Other people felt it was a pretty darn nice tribute to those lost souls. How you are personally going feel is subjective. For me, not being easily offended, I thought it was an interesting concept. My biggest question was always “exactly how much of the Titanic is in it?”

The watch also allowed Arpa to play with his fascination with decay. He loves organic decay in design and plays with it in the use of oxidized metal – here used for the bezel of the watch. While this is not the very first Titanic DNA (Titanic-DNA) watch, it does have the purist, original dial. I feel that this watch is one of Arpa’s enduring masterpieces.

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Arpa is no longer at Romain Jerome, which is now headed by the talented Manuel Emch, the brand continues the Titanic DNA collection with a series of interesting models and renditions. This model which is under the T-Oxy III range is offered in the brands current limited edition collection as of now. You can get it in black steel, polished and black steel mixed, or in 18k red gold (as seen here). The bezel is made out of what Romain Jerome calls their “stabilized Titanic Extreme rusted steel.” This is where the “Titanic” part of the watch really comes in.

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There is a reason the watch is called Titanic “DNA.” There are in fact small amounts of actual metal dragged up from the Titanic in the bezel. There is also metal recovered from the ship yard that the Titanic was produced at in Ireland, as well as other steel. Romain Jerome personally oxidizes the metal in a water treatment for several days before the bezels appear as they do. The idea is further to remind you of the oxidized nature of the ship metal deep below the ocean. One of the little ironies of the watch is the fact that the original metal used for the Titanic’s hull is now generally agreed to have been used in error. That a better metal would have been stronger – likely tough enough to not tear when hitting an iceberg.

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Titanic DNA case is 46mm wide and 15mm thick. You’ll find that over the years Romain Jerome has offered it in a variety of styles and materials including steel, gold, and ceramic. While the case is simple in concept, there are a number of small details that make it interesting. These include the brushed and polished sections, and of course the bezel “claws.” My favorite part is the dial. The hands are meant to look a bit like anchors, with lume at their tips, and the applied Arabic numerals are period perfect and brushed on the surface for ideal legibility. The hint of red on the subsidiary seconds – that looks like some type of engine room gauge – is a delicate and refined touch. There are Titanic DNA models with other dials identical to this one, but with date windows in the sub-seconds dial. However, I think this dial sans the date is more elegant. Look closely and you’ll notice that the face has a texture a bit similar to the bezel. According to Romain Jerome the dial is made with a bit of “Titanic coal.”

On the back of the watch is an engraving of the Titanic (as it would have looks on the ocean, not in the ocean). Look closely on the hull and you’ll see the number of the watch in the limited edition. Most Titanic DNA pieces are limited to 2,012 pieces. In fact, all Romain Jerome watches are part of limited edition sets. This particular model in 18k red gold has the reference T.OXY3.2222.00.BB. Attached to the watch is a rubber strap with an RJ initial on it and a locking butterfly clasp in titanium and 18k red gold. It is one of those types that is made to look like a standard ardillon buckle, but is more complex that than when opened using pushers on the side of the buckle. I like the RJ logo cut into the titanium part of the clasp. I also think that the watch would look really nice on a black alligator or crocodile strap.

Romain Jerome Titanic DNA T-OXY III Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Inside of the watch is a Swiss Concepto made caliber C22RJ51 automatic movement. Overall I like this watch for a number of reasons – the Titanic part of the story is just something to help explain it to people. For me it is art by Yvan Arpa, a piece of history combined with the avant garde personality of Romain Jerome, and a ‘watch icon’ due to its completely polarizing nature. It is also well-made and feels good on the wrist, not to mention easy to ready. Price for this model in 18k red gold is 23,900 Swiss Francs, while the T-OXY III collection starts at 11,900 Swiss Francs.

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  • kris c

    Great write up, but I still don’t get it. This watch holds nothing for me at all. All I see is $12k+ for an oddball case that holds an automatic version of the ETA 6497 (an answer to a question no one asked). Regardless of where the steel came from, it’s still steel. I’m not particularly offended by the use of Titianic bits, but I do think it cheapens the history somewhat. Cheapens is probably a bad choice of words considering the astronomical price of this thing, but whatever.

    You could get so much more watch for this kind of money.

  • BIG CHRONO

    Why stop with the Titanic’s DNA? Jerome could produce a watch incorporating the passengers’ DNA’s. They can call it the Titanic Passengers’ Genome watch. This gaudy commercialim is stricly aimed @ affluent boors who thrive off the misfortunes of others by purchasing this chintzy bauble. If they were to sell watches using parts of the Berlin Wall, it’s a lot different. Still too commerial, but not like these Hungarian Ghoulish (Goulash) timepieces.

    • BIG CHRONO

      It’s “STRICTLY”.

      • BIG CHRONO

        COMMERCIALISM. MY proofreader/spell checker is on holiday.

  • George

    So is Ariel’s 😉

    But that aside, I am amazed that RJ can sell these watches at this price point. It is hard for me to believe this series could entice 12 buyers, let alone 2012. While I like the contrast between the gold and the oxidized steel and find that aspect of the design quite striking, the overall impression is tacky and gaudy.

    • Like I said everyone… a highly polarizing watch.

  • Ulysses

    It literally looks like a polished turd. Really, the bezel looks like faeces. It is hard to imagine what the designer was thinking when he dreamed this up. Arpa should be flogged naked through the streets of Basel by someone like Speake-Marin. While I don’t take much offence at the use of metal from the Titanic in this watch, although it seems in poor taste, it is truly a dishonour to utilise it in a watch that looks like Arpa pulled it out of his ass.

  • Chris

    Good write-up. While I’m not a huge fan of the watch or the concept behind it, the design is distinctive and reasonably attractive.

    I also appreciate that Arpa had to vision to create a real brand image out of the mess that was RJ. He gave it a purpose and defined the company’s own DNA. That’s no small feat, especially when we look at how many established watch companies have spent years floundering to find themselves.

  • Mr. Champ

    Really big and really ugly.

  • George Monroe

    Note the lack of any mentioning of the watch being water resistent.

  • To Ulysses,

    The metaphors you use with ease seem to be from the back streets of poor taste! Find another blog to use them on!!

    PM

    • Ulysses

      Thank you for complimenting my verbal dexterity, but your praise isn’t necessary. It comes easily to me to express in rather more colourful ways the general opinions of most of the other people here – and the general view on this watch is that it stinks, both on a moral level as well as aesthetically. People who enjoy watches tend to have strong opinions on what they like and don’t like. While I am sure it is a complete coincidence that you are a vendor of these ugly timepieces and may feel the need to defend the products you sell for the sake of your profits, i’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

      Love, honour, country, family – these are far more worthy things to defend than an ugly little watch.

  • Ovidiu

    I like the 12 hour marking and, if they would ask me, I whould change the name from Romain Jerome to Jerome Romain so they could use it better for the 12.
    I think that will be a nice stuff!

  • alanS1616

    whatever the designer thought of u obviously didnt ….thats why u are writing ur silly ass opinion here and will never be able to afford this masterpiece of a watch

  • 5803822

    Great – but of course, what else from the fertile brain from the guy who gave us the splendid Nubeos

  • 5803822 Just saw this comment and was curious to ask – what is your impression of the relationship between Romain Jerome and Nubeo? Because from my understanding there is none. Just checking to see if you know something I don’t.

  • 5803822

    aBlogtoWatch 5803822 
    Sincere apologies Arial – got my “Ivans” totally mixed up – scrub the aplogies to you to ! blog above, it’s embarassing!!
    Arpa/Castro – apologies to you two to

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