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July 24, 2024

C by Romain Gauthier: excellence in small numbers

Eye-catching designs, innovative micro-mechanics and an extremely high level of hand finishing are the ingredients behind Romain Gauthier’s success.

ROMAIN GAUTHIER, THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND

Romain Gauthier, the founder of the independent manufacture of the same name, was born in 1975 in Switzerland, specifically in the Vallée de Joux, the cradle of Swiss haute horlogerie. It was here that he developed his passion for traditional watchmaking, and then skilfully merged it with his knowledge of mechanics and engineering and a keen eye for design.

His initial training was purely technical: Romain Gauthier studied precision mechanics and qualified as a precision machine builder in 1997.

Romain Gauthier

His early professional career saw him as a machine programmer-operator at a watch component manufacturer, soon demonstrating his talent in the field by helping to transform the factory into one of Europe’s best performing. Attention to technical aspects kept increasing, so that in 2002 Romain Gauthier completed an MBA – his final thesis being the business plan for his (future) watch company.

Romain Gauthier thus proved to be an all-accomplished figure capable not only of building his own high-end watch from scratch but also his own watch brand. After working continuously for three years on this ambitious project, he was finally ready to launch the Romain Gauthier brand in 2005.

THE ROMAIN GAUTHIER MANUFACTURE

From the moment of its foundation to the present day, the manufacture has experienced unremitting growth with a succession of exclusive collections that skilfully blend refined and classic timepieces, contemporary casual creations and true ethereal objets d’art.

Romain Gauthier

The brand’s merit is that it combines the know-how developed by its founder in his everyday life, study and work with an uncompromising approach to haute horlogerie. The skilful mix of eye-catching design, innovative micro-mechanics and a very high level of hand finishing has led to the acclaim of the Romain Gauthier watches: they are true works of art produced in very few pieces (around 60 per year). 

The manufacture combines the taste of skilled craftsmen and antique instruments entrusted to expert technicians with state-of-the-art methods: this allows Romain Gauthier to design, produce, decorate, assemble and regulate all movements in house. This savoir-faire guarantees uncompromising quality, painstaking precision and rare beauty to all watches created by Romain Gauthier.

Romain Gauthier

The maison’s creations are divided into three main collections: Heritage, Freedom and Exception. 

The Heritage and Freedom collections are dedicated to the same models (C by Romain Gauthier, Logical One, Insight Micro-Rotor and Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette) interpreted differently: the Heritage collection fully exalts the more classic aspects of Swiss craftsmanship using noble materials such as gold and platinum, while the Freedom collection expresses a bolder vision through the use of more contemporary and casual materials that bring a more sporty and dynamic touch through the creation of watches that exude an edgy charisma.

The Exception collection includes unique pieces that offer collectors the opportunity to express their creativity through designs brought to life by virtuoso displays of decorative arts.

C BY ROMAIN GAUTHIER

The watch that most allows us to understand Romain Gauthier‘s absolute expertise in skilfully blending classical elements with contemporary, avant-garde ones is certainly C by Romain Gauthier: a timepiece that we present here, together with Hudson Watch Stand by Charles Simon, a company that shares the same principles of excellence and craftsmanship, guaranteeing a decidedly unconventional combination and a touch of bold minimalism.

C by Romain Gauthier Titanium

From the current Freedom collection (in the photos), the so-called Titanium Edition Five, with a rubber strap, and the Titanium Edition Bracelet version – combined with a light and comfortable bracelet thanks also to the integrated clasp – certainly stand out: two models under the banner of modernity and continuity, both in terms of the movement’s architecture and design of the dial (suffice it to say that the watch was named “Continuum”). Superb technique and casual style characterize these models that skilfully represent continuity in space-time through a futuristic vision opening new horizons. 

C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet
C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet

During its creation, Gauthier saw the need to make a contemporary and uncluttered case (41×9.55 mm) in harmony with the movement that would make the watch comfortable and ergonomic. And this is why, within the Freedom collection, he decided to use grade 5 titanium, a material that can add consistency to the watch and evoke a sense of continuity.

C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet
C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet

As for the dial, there is no shortage of surprises either: the most attentive observer cannot fail to notice that the hour and minute hands are off-centred on the horizontal axis, and that the hour markers become slightly thinner and vary in length, while the 5-second intervals of the small seconds at 7 o’clock are also marked by tapered lines of varying length. Gauthier explained this play of perspectives by stating that, ‘Rather than a series of enclosed circles, as we often see in watchmaking, I wanted an open, airy dial on which full or part orthogonal lines form vanishing points with the axes of the hands, reinforcing the notion of continuity’.

C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet
C by Romain Gauthier Titanium Edition Bracelet

The Titanium Edition Five features a titanium dial handcrafted by the Manufacture’s experts who have skilfully created a variation of tones and play of light with breathtaking reflections, while the bracelet version features a delicate salmon-coloured dial, sandblasted and treated with a special coating protecting it from UV rays.

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium
C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

The tapered, three-dimensional hands and index are made of 18-carat white gold and filled with superluminova for enhanced legibility, as are the numerals and applied hour markers, which are carved from a single block of white gold. 

In between the bezel and caseback, the one-piece caseband and lugs are geometrically sculpted, alternating satin and polished finishes crafted with aesthetic grooves to make the shapes stand out.

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium
C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

The rubber strap with pin buckle follows the form of the angular lugs and the rounded caseband so as to appear as a continuous, organic extension of the case (for the collector who does not like straps, there is also a bracelet version). The crown for winding and time-setting is placed at 2 o’clock, creating space for the movement of the wrist. 

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium
C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

Gauthier’s genius is also evident in the movement’s technical construction: the watch is endowed with a stop-seconds mechanism that allows the time to be set exactly according to a reference time. Like many other stop-seconds mechanisms, the balance sets a stop when the crown is pulled out but, instead of using a straight or L-shaped balance stop lever, Romain Gauthier chose to use a snail cam that performs a double function: it touches and stops the balance when the crown is pulled out and, when the crown is reinserted, the snail cam makes a turn, giving the balance an impulse to help it start beating again. 

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium
C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

The recurring themes of modernity and continuity can also be found inside the hand-wound manufacture movement, beautifully displayed through the case back. Taking centre stage are some finger bridges, historically typical of the Vallée de Joux, but reinterpreted here in a modern way: they are horizontally configured and feature a ‘stepped’ shape – previously seen on some of the Logical One bridges – that not only provides volume and depth, but also give the sense that the bridges are literally flowing over the gears and balance wheel without a clear end.

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

The outer edges of each bridge all feature a double bevel, while the flat bridge surfaces and rubies are each framed by a raised border that has been straight-grained. Within these edges, the manufacture’s specialists used a special hand-engraving technique to create an original dimpled texture. The movement’s mainplate beneath has been hand-frosted.

C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium
C by Romain Gauthier Edition Five Titanium

The impressive decoration of the movement isn’t confined to the bridges and mainplate: the gears and the ratchet wheel with their round, bevelled spokes have been circular-grained, while the spiral cam and the S-head screws – another Gauthier signature – are mirror-polished. Lastly, the spring barrel cover has been embellished with a superb snail decoration. The timepiece also features a balance with curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights, as well as a hand-assembled, triangular-shaped pallet lever to ensure maximum rigidity.

C by Romain Gauthier Titanium

Classic styling, modern lines and the skilful use of micro-mechanics: C by Romain Gauthier represents the perfect fusion of all these elements, enabling the creation of a sporty, modern timepiece without renouncing the very high technical content true to Swiss haute horlogerie tradition. 

To access one of these works of art, you will need CHF 39,000 + TAX for the Titanium Edition Five version with a rubber strap (limited edition of 38) and CHF 42,000 + TAX for the Titanium Edition Bracelet.

By Alberto Moroso