The new RGM Model 801 Professional Aircraft hand-wound pilot’s watch belongs to the rare breed of mechanical timekeepers that are powered not by a Swiss made ebauche or a Japanese caliber, but feature a movement, which is (at least partially) made in the United States. The RGM caliber 801 that counts seconds inside the new timekeeper was first revealed in 2008, but went into a full production only a couple of years later.
With its 19 jewels, an impressive size of 16 lignes (around 36.09 mm) and frequency of 18,000 vph the movement looks rather archaic: I am not sure whether it was a deliberate decision to exploit current fad for vintage-styled watches powered by oversized calibers or if the brand simply needed lacked necessary know-how to design a modern mechanism from scratch and *ahem* took inspiration from some long-forgotten caliber designed by a long-forgotten watchmaking company before the Great War. Anyway, it still remains the first caliber in three decades that has its key parts (including bridges and plates) made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.
Somewhat resembling old Rolex movements (the caliber 618 Type 1a is the first that comes to mind,) the RGM caliber 801 features high level of decoration including rhodium or gold plating, as well as Circular Cote de Geneve pattern, circular graining and bevelling (the one that RGM prefers to call “anglage”).
Although the movement is large, the American watchmaker managed to keep the size of the timepiece’s body at manageable 42 millimeters in diameter and just 10.50 mm in height: a pleasant surprise these days, when numerous Swiss-based brands keep introducing pilot’s watches the size of a wall clock.
As you can see on the picture above, the stainless steel body of the watch comes in gunmetal finish that seems to be only appropriate for a military-themed timekeeper.
Accordingly, its dial is, too, designed to resemble numerous gauges of a WWII-era warplane with their busy, but still easy to read displays. The effect comes courtesy of clean sans-serif fonts and soft colors that don’t put too much strain on the eyes.
Well, perhaps, the small seconds indicator, which is placed at 6 o’clock, is not that good in terms of usability, since its thin small seconds hand is virtually lost among the sixty seconds markers of the same color.
Another good thing about this model is the choice of straps. I am not sure about the black alligator leather band or a stainless steel bracelet that you, too, can get with this watch, but the brown strap with its slightly worn look seems to be a perfect choice of this new RGM Model 801 Professional Aircraft.
Well, I hope the price will not be too high.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: RGM Watches
RGM Model 801 Professional Aircraft manual-wind watch specification
Price: $7450 (version on leather strap) / $8250 (version on steel bracelet)
Movement: Manual (hand-wound,) RGM caliber 801, Made in USA
Number of jewels: 19
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Movement decoration: Rhodium or gold-plated, circular Cote de Geneve, perlage, bevelling
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 38 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 10.50 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Brown or black alligator leather, ostrich leather or a stainless steel bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire, antireflective