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An Obsessive Compulsive Dream: The Romain Gauthier Logical One

One look at the Logical One by Romain Gauthier and you quickly realize that this is a special timepiece. Introduced in 2013, the watch won the best complication award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Romain Gauthier is a master craftsman with an unconventional background as a precision mechanic who made (and continues to make) components for the Swiss watch industry for over twenty years. His componentry work goes to some of the biggest names in luxury watchmaking, though the specific brand list is kept obviously hush-hush aside from his involvement with the more complicated end of Chanel’s watchmaking efforts.

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Quality in execution is absolutely paramount when it comes to Romain’s own watch line, and due to the complexity of his watches and the fact that he manufactures so much of his componentry alongside his contract parts production, only 50 or so Romain Gauthier watches are produced each year. For a bit of perspective, F.P. Journe—who is also considered to be a “small” independent brand—cranks out about 900 to 1,000 pieces annually. While it’s evident at a glance that this Logical One reference MON00163 is something special, it’s also evident that it warrants a second look.

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When looking at this watch, the first thing you notice is the unconventional openwork dial. It’s not skeletonized, but the dial in the traditional sense comprises two small oven-fired black enamel subdials. The rich black enamel provides a gorgeous contrast to the exposed rose gold plates while also letting the open-worked movement be the star of the show. The dials are very traditional and simple. Because of this, I think they nail the balance of being ready and legible when one needs to know the time while not distracting from the beautifully finished movement components. 

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Looking at how the movement and time display is laid out, it’s almost as if Gauthier designed it this way for educational purposes, like the watch was designed as a horological teaching tool. The movement inside this watch is certainly worth studying. Visible on the dial’s left side is the chain-and-fusee constant-force mechanism, part of which looks like an extremely well-finished bike chain. This ruby-link chain and innovative snail cam work to reduce friction and ensure constant accuracy even as the mainspring runs down. Yes, other watchmakers have introduced solutions to provide constant force while a watch movement’s power reserve runs down, but Gauthier’s is, in my opinion, the coolest looking.

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Another innovative feature of this watch is the winding pusher pioneered by Romain Gauthier. Instead of using the crown as one would on a traditional watch, the timepiece is wound by repeatedly pushing a subtly raised triangular pusher on the left case flank. Once you do this, you’ll see the chain activate and wind up the watch—it takes approximately forty pushes to wind the 46-hour power reserve fully. It’s a novel system that can make winding the watch more fun, and it reduces the wear and tear on the winding stem. 

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Examining the rest of the movement, you’ll find exceptional finishing throughout. The bridges are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and the contrasting finishes play off each other well. Even the screws are gorgeous, and you’ll notice that the slots in them are “S” shaped, which not only is more aesthetically pleasing but allows for more torque to be applied when assembling the movement. Little details like this really let you into a watchmaker’s mind and show you how thought through a timepiece is. Knowing how much went into this movement from an innovation and finishing standpoint, it’s no wonder so much of it was made visible. 

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When a watch has a movement and dial like the Logical One has, other details can fade into the background, but the case on this watch is worthy of the components it houses. Made of 18k white gold, the round 43mm case is primarily polished with some key areas of interest. The concave bezel is an excellent touch, especially on a watch this big, and it helps break up the design visually. From the side you’ll see the case flanks are rounded and polished as well, but you also see the satin finishing inside the recessed lug flanks. The recessed profiles with the contrasting finish really emphasize and define the sharp lug shape which is needed with rounded river stone-like case. The case is subtle and tones down the quirky watch but there are no corners cut. Like the rest of the timepiece the case is superbly finished and gorgeous from every angle.

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The Logical One is a large unconventional looking watch but its balanced well and checks all the boxes one wants when it comes to independent watchmaking. The form factor and finishing are stunning, the movement is inventive and original, and most importantly, because Gauthier produces so few watches, you get a sense of intimacy. You can feel the passion Romain Gauthier has put into this watch. The Logical One embodies the romantic image of watchmaking that we all hold in our heads, and while our love for watches may be confusing to some, it’s timepieces like this that make our obsession seem more, well, logical.

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