The American-born, Swiss-trained founder of RGM has brought watchmaking stateside for the first time in more than a century.
BY JONATHAN BUES
Before Switzerland was synonymous with watchmaking, the United States was the world’s premier horological force. In the late 19th century, companies like Elgin, Waltham, and Hamilton operated large factories that produced every component of a watch in-house. Around the turn of the century, the Swiss adopted their manufacturing methods and machinery, and the large U.S. brands closed their doors. American-born, Swiss-trained master watchmaker Roland Murphy has helped to revive a once-dormant industry through RGM, the first company to craft mechanical watch movements and cases in Pennsylvania since Hamilton decamped from Lancaster to Switzerland.
RGM’s Pennsylvania Tourbillon, the second of the brand’s three in-house calibers, is the first tourbillon that’s serially produced in the States. (This complex mechanism is designed to cancel out the harmful effects of gravity on a mechanical watch’s accuracy.) Murphy wanted a movement with a large tourbillon cage that would be visible from all sides. In the end, this meant conceiving his own—a costly and difficult feat, even for Switzerland’s best. RGM’s version, however, is made using mostly components made in the Quaker State, and assembled in the watchmaker’s Mount Joy workshop. Though haute horlogerie remains a European craft, watch collectors are turning their attention stateside, too.
RGM Pennsylvania Tourbillon in steel; $95,000; rgmwatches.com