RGM Watch Co. – Lancaster, PA


Roland G. Murphy

The name is on the dial. But, what’s behind the name and what has it taken to get it there?
Roland Murphy started in watchmaking the way most watchmakers do, with a fascination with mechanical watches. Roland started his career the way most Independent watchmakers have. He went to watchmaking school and began his career assembling, servicing and restoring mechanical watches for a commercial watch company in Switzerland. Roland, a Maryland native, decided to return to the States and settle his family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania the heart of USA watchmaking and the former home of the powerful and longest running USA watch company,Hamilton Watch Company. Roland established RGM Watch Co. in 1992.

Now, twenty years on and Roland is continuing to grow and nurture his own manufacture. RGM produces a great line of daily wear sports models that feature popular Swiss caliber. The sports models are robust and feature small volume detail work that’s unavailable from commercial manufacture producing comparable products at double the price. Roland Murphy really wanted to continue traditional technique. The first step was the Model 222 featuring a remanufactured Hamilton Calibre 921 that was optimized for wear on the wrist and featured the name “Roland G. Murphy” on the dial.

Hamilton Calibre 921 in Ref 222

The next step, to produce a high quality made in America calibre in the tradition of the Lancaster County by-gone caliber. The result, the Calibre 801. The Calibre 801 is aptly named for RGM’s location in a former bank building at 801 W. Main Street in Mount Joy,PA. The Calibre 801 is a reconceived homage to the classic pocket watch calibre of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The meticulous, hand finished 801 features an oversized escapement and balance and operates at 18,000 bph. The Calibre 801 is available in two Stainless Steel case styles. The first, a traditional 42mm round case (10.5mm depth)with “Calatrava” lugs. The second case, a 43.3 mm round case (12.5mm depth) with straight lugs and fluted case sides, milled in Lancaster County. Either case, features a display back to properly view the painstaking finish of the Calibre 801.

The Calibre 801

The watches are all customizable. Of course, RGM offers clients the opportunity to choose the finish on their watches and RGM has become known for their engine turned dials. Engine turning is done on century old, hand mechanical machines called ‘Rose Engines”. Roland is fortunate to have more Rose Engines in one place than I’ve seen anywhere outside of Europe. He has three radial machines and two precious straight line machines.

One of Roland's Straight Line machines

These Rose Engines enable the precious and traditional painstaking processes of engine turning.

Roland at one of his radial Rose Engines

A plethora of dials and finishes may be had and all you need to do is ask! The watches fitted with the Calibre 801 miraculously start at $6400!

One dial nearing completion.

RGM is now close to the launch of the newest 801, the 801 A RGM Aircraft. A traditional handwound pilots model with three unique technical dials that all feature the Keystone logo. The RGM Aircraft Professional will be great new addition to the rich 801 American Made collection.

Calibre 801 Aircraft dials.

In 2011, RGM was proud to unveil their first haute horology creation. The MM2 Tourbillon. The MM2 Tourbillon is entirely made in the USA. A tourbillon is a mastery of the high art of watchmaking and it harkens back to it’s creator and the father of modern watchmaking, Abraham Louis Breguet. Breguet invented the tourbillon escapement mechanism to isolate the escapement for shock and motion during wear (of a pocket watch). A modern tourbillon designed for the wrist, is a fine example of the interpretation of the watch as art by a master watchmaker. Roland Murphy is proud to produce limited examples in Stainless Steel and also, Platinum or Gold upon request.
In 2012, RGM will introduce their second manufacture calibre, a handwound, tonneau shaped Calibre that features a motor barrel! A feature from pocket watches that RGM has innovated and optimized for a new wrist calibre. WOW!

The new tonneau shaped calibre coming to life.

All of this aside, I am frequently asked why I am a devotee to Independent watchmaking? Well, it’s an easy answer. I admire the courage of the rare few watchmakers that step out from behind the bench to make a special statement about their viewpoint of horology via their own interpretation of mechanical watches. Each watchmaker struggles to find the ingenuity and true innovative spirit to yield their own authentic view on their art. RGM, is thousands of miles from the established epicenter of the industry and Roland is constantly adapting machines to do production processes and enabling his own work to be done more and more in Pennsylvania. How cool is that! Made in America!

Roland Murphy, interviewed by Ariel Adams for “A Blog to Watch” at GTE 2013

RGM Diver (Ref 300)

RGM Chrono (Ref 400)

RGM -Pilot Ref. 151

RGM -Pilot (42mm) Ref 250

RGM- Manufacture Calibre 801

Roland Murphy, conducts a walking tour of the National (American) Watch & Clock Museum

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