When we last discussed the Rpaige (Richard Paige) watch brand, it was as a review of the Rpaige Wrocket watch. If you recall, the concept was to take the movement of a vintage American pocket watch, and place it in a watch case with a special dial unique to the Wrocket collection. Consider, for a moment, if you took that concept back a step, and instead of Rpaige using a Wrocket dial, they just used an original pocket watch dial to match the antique movement. That is what I am going to review today: an Rpaige Waltham Original Antique limited edition watch.
When I first put one of these on my wrist, I thought it was most cool. I am normally not into vintage timepieces, but this is even beyond that. This is the movement and dial of what used to be in a pocket watch, and I don’t suspect the people using them at the time generations ago would have imagined that someday people would be putting them on their wrists. That is pretty cool if you ask me, and they actually look really nice on the wrist today.
Rpaige has assorted an amazing collection of antique pocket watch movements and dials over the years. Each is faithfully restored, but also very much an historic item. While the movements are each in fine working order, one can visually see the patina of time and signs of actual use. One of the most interesting parts of the movements is how nicely they are decorated. The movement restoration cleans them to back the original luster without losing the intricate engraving designs. In some instances, Rpaige offers even higher-grade movements that are less common and more impressively detailed.
Rpaige indicates that each of his Original Antique watches use American-made Waltham or Elgin movements that are sometimes over 100 years old. Waltham produced watches in Massachusetts, while Elgin produced watches in Illinois. This particular watch contains a Waltham pocket watch movement. Waltham officially closed in 1957, and its original factory is preserved by Massachusetts as a state historic structure.
The mechanical movements are manually wound and feature just the time with a subsidiary seconds dial. The cases are well-designed to fit the movements, and I like how they take up most of the caseback space under the sapphire crystal exhibition window. I actually wonder why modern watch companies don’t finish or decorate their movements in this way, as it might be interesting. I mean, why doesn’t Breguet apply machine guilloche engraving on its movement surfaces, in addition to the dials?
The Rpaige Waltham Original Antique watch case is 44mm wide, and available in steel or titanium. This case happens to be in titanium. The design of the case is art deco-inspired, but versatile enough so that it looks appropriate with a range of dials. Richard Paige himself is an avid art deco collector. An unnecessary, albeit appreciated detail on the case is the blue sapphire crystal cabochon in the crown.
Attached to the case is a simple black leather strap, though other options are available. You’ve probably noticed that the strap can be easily changed, which would give a timepiece like this a lot of wearing options. I am sure someone has already tried it on a NATO strap. Funny enough, it is very enjoyable to wear a pocket watch on your wrist. Tastes for watches at this size are common now, and it looks remarkably appropriate on the wrist of the correct person.
The watch dials are cleaned and restored as well, but the bright and vibrant colors they retain are likely due to the fact that they are enamel painted. Enamel painting and then backing is an excellent way of preserving colors. Compare an enamel painted dial with one that isn’t from the same historic era, and you’ll surely notice the difference in how they age. Even today, enamel painting is not really surpassed when wanting to preserve the look of a dial.
Looking at the Rpaige website, you’ll see the range of Original Antique dial and movement watches. Some dials are popular classics, while others are more unique or even one-of-a-kind pieces. Very few collectors such as Richard Paige could even assemble a collection like this. It feels special being able to wear them as well, because of their being matched to an original movement. Prices for most of these Waltham or Elgin-dialed watches is $2,800 – $3,500. Only the most rare models are a bit more. That is also priced at least a few hundred dollars above the price of an Rpaige Wrocket. Nevertheless, the prices feel really quite fair.
Rpaige offers both a nostalgic and historic sense of value in these watches. This particular version is limited to 50 pieces, which means the dial was common, but also very popular. Even for non-watch collectors, I can see a lot of people enjoying a watch like this, where the visual presentation is equal to the story behind it. Quite nicely done, this Rpaige Waltham Original Antique dial and movement watch is priced at $2,900. rpagiewatch.com
>Model: Waltham Original Antique dial
>Price: $2,900 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Historic American watch-lover looking for something really cool.
>Best characteristic of watch: Faithfully captures the spirit of a classic American pocket watch for today, and on the wrist.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Not all the dials match the case as well. People might complain about 44mm width, but with these movements, there isn’t going to be anything smaller.