He may not be a household name (yet) but Romain Gauthier (pronounced Ro-man Gaw-tee-a) is nevertheless the talk of the high-end of town this week, and with very good reason. After a period of what some have described as hibernation (more on that later) Gauthier seems to come out of nowhere with the unveiling of his incredible new timepiece, the Logical One.
I was intrigued by this latest development to say the least and so when an unexpected opportunity came up to get hands on with the only working prototype in existence I of course jumped at it. Read on to hear my thoughts and for those who missed the technical write up on this piece last week, please click here to read it.
A Long Time Coming
For many the Logical One has been a long-time coming, not least of all for Gauthier himself. After successfully developing and delivering his first two collections, complete with in-house manufacture movements, several years ago the brand all but dropped off the radar completely. It is no coincidence of course that this disappearance coincided with the advent of the 2008 financial crisis that sounded the death knell for so many other small brands.
Recognizing the need to consolidate in order to ensure their long-term survival, Gauthier scaled back his watch-making operations completely and focused instead on his manufacturing business, which produces parts for some of the world’s best known watchmaking brands;
“It was a difficult decision,” explains Gauthier ”but it was the right one for us at the time. The focus on the manufacturing business not only allowed us to develop the necessary expertise to conceive the Logical One, it also provided the ongoing source of capital needed to fund the project.”
This level-headed approach means that the brand has not only weathered the financial crisis in surprisingly good shape but they are also now in the enviable position of being able to once again focus their full attention on conceiving incredible new timepieces, such as the Logical One.
Hands-On With The Logical One
The first thing to strike you about the Logical One is its incredible aesthetic appeal and this is very much by design. Gauthier explained that for him watchmaking is all about passion and so each piece he creates must be emotive. As he sees it, the manufacturing business is the lungs of his organization, ensuring there is enough oxygen (capital) to keep things running smoothly, whilst the watchmaking side is very much the heart. This is where he finds his greatest enjoyment and is free to truly explore the outer limits of his creativity.
The guiding principle for the piece (and the brand as a whole) according to Gauthier, is the blending of traditional practices with cutting edge technology. This is nowhere more evident than on the dial, which is more or less effectively split in two. On the right-hand side there is a very traditional hours/minutes/seconds time display, whilst on the left-hand side we find Gauthier’s highly innovative take on the constant force fusee chain system. The common design thread that binds the two? Straight lines.
Look closely and you will see that you can draw a straight line from the middle of the main dial all the way down to the middle of the balance wheel. Although it’s not immediately apparent this is actually a visual reinforcement of the straight-line system that forms the basis of the constant force system, just another of those small touches that when viewed in totality are not individually remarkable, and yet if one were to be altered or removed the overall look would change dramatically.
Another detail that cannot be truly appreciated until you get up close and personal with the piece is the incredible depth of the dial. The hand-finished, highly polished sharp internal bevelled angles in the movement plates and bridges coupled with the ‘stacked’ time display create a contrasting layered effect, which truly is a delight to behold. I easily spent 5 or 10 minutes just holding the piece in my hand at different angles and observing the delicate intricacies of the movement that only become truly apparent upon closer inspection.
The Logical One sits comfortably on the wrist and does not feel bulky at all despite its slightly larger dimensions (the case is 43mm in diameter). I must admit though it is a challenge to stop yourself from staring at it all the time as the ruby-studded fusee chain in particular is really quite alluring, not that I was complaining mind you.
As this piece was still in the prototype stage it did not feature the power reserve indicator on the reverse of the movement, however overall Romain said he was very happy with the piece at present and did not envision there would be any major hurdles to clear before readying it for full production.
Orders are being taken already with delivery of the first pieces estimated for the third quarter of this year. A final price hasn’t been fixed yet but the indications given by Romain suggest that the red gold version would probably retail for around 160,000CHF – 170,000CHF excluding taxes and the platinum version would be closer to 190,000CHF excluding taxes.
All in all quite reasonable pricing I think for a piece of this caliber, especially from a collector’s point of view given the significance of the highly innovative constant force system and the years of R&D that went into developing it.
The Final Word
Sitting there talking with Romain it is obvious he has a genuine passion for what he is doing, and that shows through clearly in his creations. However, he is also a businessman who recognizes the need for a stable and reliable cash flow to support his passion, and as such has taken the appropriate steps to ensure these measures are in place.
Now that may seem like a strange thing to say at the end of a watch review but it is perhaps one of the most critical questions to ask yourself when making the decision to purchase a piece from a high-end, independent maker; will they still be around in a year? In five years? Fortunately in this case I am confident in saying the answer is a resounding yes, and more importantly I think we will see plenty more exciting developments from this young brand well before then, especially if Romain’s parting words are anything to go by;
“I’m only just getting started.”