Timepiece

How this all-American watch company makes its watches

  • RGM Watch Co. of Mount Joy, Pa., Is one of the last all-American watchmakers.
  • A team of nine people make around 200 handcrafted watches each year.
  • On average, the entire process of assembling a watch takes three to five days.

Méline: RGM Watch Company was founded in 1992 by Roland G Murphy. Today, it is considered one of the only American companies to devote itself to the watchmaking of yesteryear.

Roland: There are no electronics, there are no printed circuits. So there are many more implications in its production. And something traditional that can be beautifully constructed and still be admired and enjoyed here today. It’s really more a matter of craftsmanship where hardly anyone makes movements and series of mechanical watches here in America. You know, we’re the only ones. You know, making one of our watches with an in-house movement, you know, it’s, it’s a process.

Méline: To create a watch, Roland first draws the design, then a 3D program models each part. Then the movement bridges and the main plate are built and decorated. The main plates with the movement parts on which the watch will be mounted, and the bridges will be mounted on the main plate to support the internal workings of the watch. In the interest of efficiency, RTM manufactures these parts in batches of a hundred or less. Once they’re done, it’s time to build the watch. First, the movement parts are assembled. These are the engine of the watch with all the gears working together to keep time. The dial or dials engraved using the pink Gulch motor, which dates from 1857. The guilloché pattern makes each watch unique. Since it is handmade, there will be tiny differences between each watch. The guilloche is associated with Swiss and German made watches and is rarely made in the United States. The finished numbered dial is now attached to the watch movement. Then the watch hands are attached and the movement dial is nested. On average, the entire assembly process takes three to five days and involves one or two watchmakers. RGM creates unique personalized pieces that sell for thousands of dollars, such as this Kauai model estimated at 13,900 and watches and series ranging from 2,750 to 98,500. The team of nine craftsmen make approximately 200 watches each year.


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