For many watch lovers, Raymond Weil is a familiar Swiss watchmaker that a lot of people recall being sold in places such as big department stores. Over the last several years, Raymond Weil has become less popular because the places that mainly sold its products have become less popular. More recently, the family that runs Raymond Weil decided to reintroduce its line of inspired, affordably priced Swiss Made watches to the hobbyist community. A product I think a lot of other watch enthusiasts will appreciate from the company is this reference 2785-SBC-60000 Raymond Weil Freelancer Calibre RW1212 Skeleton watch, with a two-tone bronze and steel case.
Many of the current Raymond Weil products are still intended for mainstream luxury timepiece consumption. That tends to mean that they are good enough for watch hobbyists but not necessarily themed or styled for them. That’s starting to change, and I think a great example is this and some of the other Raymond Weil models with the Calibre RW1212 Skeleton automatic movement.
The movement was developed by Raymond Weil with Switzerland’s Sellita movement manufacturer. The RW1212 family is produced by Sellita, but exclusively for Raymond Weil. I’ve long talked about the wisdom of this approach that blends practical uses of industrial efficiency with original and exclusive designs for movements that help products command higher prices. Raymond Weil currently has two versions of the RW1212 automatic movement: the standard “open heart” version and this more visually open RW1212 Skeleton version of the movement.
Core to the design of the RW1212 is the position and design of the regulation system at 6 o’clock on the dial, which includes a view of the oscillating balance wheel, as well as the operation of the escapement. This poetic animation of mechanical parts is eye-catching, even soothing to many. A full bridge over the balance wheel is uncommon and actually helps with structural stability. It also offers a “tourbillon-lite” dial visual that is, indeed, fun to look at and classy. Performance-wise, the RW1212 automatic movement operates at 4Hz with a power reserve of 38 hours; it is 5.47mm-thick.
The movement is tastefully skeletonized with perlage polishing on the remaining bridges (given a gunmetal gray color on this model) and an excellent view of the mechanism’s operation. Even the mainspring barrel has cutouts to see the mainspring wound on the inside (which can also function as a crude power reserve indicator). One downside of the movement is that it does not have a running seconds hand, which means it is best used for dress or social wear purposes (as sports watches typically allow the user to track the seconds). Not having a seconds hand does make the movement layout more visually elegant, which is why the decision was likely made to leave out a seconds hand.
When Raymond Weil first introduced the RW1212 Skeleton movement, it did so on a few watches that didn’t seem “open” enough. So, the next generation of Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton watches (which this reference 2785-SBC-60000 is part of) offers a more refined and open version of the open-work dial, allowing for a more expansive view of the movement. That said, there is still a very real scale for the hours and minutes. More so, Raymond Weil didn’t violate one of my personal design rules, which is to never put skeletonized hands on a skeletonized dial (unless you hate the people who actually look at your watch dials). The tapering hands are even filled in with luminant.
The 42mm-wide Raymond Weil Freelancer case is basic, but it is generally appealing. The case has a lot of bold lines and reminds me of a softer TAG Heuer Carrera case. It is 10.6mm-thick and water resistant to 100 meters. Over the dial is a flat, AR-coated (both sides) sapphire crystal. Another crystal is affixed to the rear of the case, offering a back-view of the skeletonized movement.
What makes the reference 2785-SBC-60000 Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton a bit special is the aesthetic and, specifically, the bronze parts. Raymond Weil took a decidedly fashionable stance here and decided to go with a stable aged bronze, versus something new that would not wear as nicely. The bronze bezel and matching crown look great if you are someone who enjoys that designer pre-worn look. (The “worn” part is not about scratches but rather a smooth weathering of the color similar to the look of oil-rubbed bronze. Raymond Weil puts it a bit more poetically, saying that “each watch has a unique, rich patina and self-indulgent lustre.”
The strap Raymond Weil choose to match the case looks and feels great. It’s simply called an “aged brown leather strap,” but it is really nice. Not only is the color and texture attractive and flattering to the eye, but the strap is pliable yet tough, and pretty comfortable to wear. The strap is attached to a folding steel deployant clasp.
What I think many watch lovers will really appreciate about this Raymond Weil Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton watch is how it really looks and feels like something a lot more expensive. It can be the affordable and fashionable solution in a room full of much more expensive, much more fragile watches that, in a lot of instances, aren’t gonna be that much more enjoyable to wear. Whereas your stock three-hand Freelancer timepiece might not have as much appeal to a seasoned watch collector, this particular Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton Bronze has a lot of elements that I think enthusiasts of all types can really get behind, especially for the money. Price for the reference 2785-SBC-60000 Raymond Weil Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton Bronze watch is $2,940 USD. Learn more or order at the Raymond Weil website here.