Visitors admire a Lange & Söhne repeater chronograph pocket watch, ca. 1905, at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Courtesy of RGM Watch Co.
Twenty-five years ago Roland Murphy founded RGM Watch Co. Last weekend he celebrated this event by hosting an open house at his workshop in Mount Joy, PA, and by revealing his newest watches at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA. Murphy, a graduate of the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, PA, and The Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP), conducted both well-attended events. RGM watch enthusiasts came from all over the country.
At the open house on Friday, September 15, RGM’s skilled employees demonstrated their various tasks from servicing watches to designing and machining parts in the entire process of watchmaking in a modern-day watch company.
Visitors gather around current models of RGM watches. Keith Lehman.
A disassembled RGM tourbillon on display under a glass case. Keith Lehman.
Adam Robertson, an RGM employee, discusses and demonstrates his work to visitors. Keith Lehman.
Countless horological gems were displayed, including a dissembled tourbillon movement, a collection of U.S. Corps of Engineers watches from World War II, and more than 35 current models of RGM watches. Despite the antiquated tradition of creating handcrafted watches, RGM’s workshop is incredibly high-tech. Equipped with two CNC machines, computers to precisely design custom parts and movements, and a 3-D printer, RGM is truly a business that embraces the past but pursues the future.
On Saturday, September 16, the NAWCC Museum was packed with watch and clock enthusiasts. Murphy led an informative tour through the Museum, highlighting various sections and pieces, including the Waltham Watch Co. machine line, a Masonic pocket watch manufactured in Lancaster, PA, by Willian Wallace Dudley, and a guitar that Roland designed for Martin Guitar Co. to celebrate its two millionth guitar.
Murphy standing in front of the showcase of watches made by William Wallace Dudley, a watchmaker famous for his Masonic watches.
Murphy standing in front of a showcase full of Hamilton pocket watches. Roland discussed Hamilton’s history and its significance in American watchmaking.
Murphy explaining how he made the RGM/Martin Guitar Co. D200 two millionth guitar.
Of course, it was the new watches that the crowd was anxious to see. Four showcases were in the rotunda, but the contents of three were concealed. The showcase that was not draped housed the Paul Morphy Chess Watch, called Chess in Enamel, released earlier this year. Like the PS-801-BB Baseball in Enamel watch released in 2015, the Morphy watch was inspired by a pocket watch found in the Museum.
The first watch Murphy revealed was the Model 222-RR (Railroad) watch that features a restored Hamilton pocket watch movement. It differs from other RGM models because the crown is at the 1:30 position. The dial is a Grand Feu enamel dial and the numerals are modeled after American railroad watches of the past.
Next, he revealed three Model 25 watches with different guilloché patterns and galvanic colors on their dials. These watches contain top-quality ETA automatic movements in American-made cases.
Finally, the 801SW-COE Corps of Engineers sweep seconds watch was revealed. To accommodate the center sweep seconds hand, this model required many more specialized parts than its predecessor the 801-COE Corps of Engineers.
Murphy about to reveal the Model 222-RR wristwatch. Keith Lehman.
RGM's Model 222-RR Railroad watch on display. Keith Lehman.
The crowd eagerly closed in on the Model 25 watches after Murphy removed the cover on the showcase. Keith Lehman.
Three RGM's Model 25 watches on display. Keith Lehman.
RGM's 801SW-COE Corps of Engineers wristwatch. Keith Lehman.
A handsome spread of food was available in the Museum Theater along with a chocolate and vanilla cake (it was a birthday party after all). Playing in the theater was a video that RGM produced in collaboration with Martin Guitar Co. about the design and creation of the D200 two millionth guitar.
“It’s always a pleasure working with Roland and RGM,” Museum Director Noel Poirier said about the event. “Roland always brings a large following for his events and many of the visitors had never been to the Museum before.”
Museum Director Noel Poirier gives a demonstration of the apostolic Engle Clock. Keith Lehman.
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