Lifestyle Editor Aysha Majid talks innovative horology with RJ-Romain Jerome CEO, Manuel Emch.
Whether recovering steel from the Titanic or fragments of the Apollo 11 space shuttle, mingling silver with moon dust or sculpting volcano lava, Swiss watchmaker RJ-Romain Jerome uses unique elements as the poetic driving forces behind their commemorative timepieces. Their recently launched Octopus is the newest addition to the brand’s Titanic collection.
“We incorporated physical elements of the boat together with watch making steel,” explained RJ CEO Manuel Emch about the watch, which is the first divers piece in the collection. “There is a legend that the Titanic was dragged down by a giant octopus— which gave birth to the name. Everything around the watch echoes the number eight. It is resistant to 888 feet, an octopus obviously has eight legs, it’s limited to 888 pieces and the creature reflects water and diver.”
The rugged appearance of the style makes a striking contrast with the meticulous watchmaking care devoted to each detail. There are eight octagon head screws on the 46mm case as well as on the back of the watch, which is stamped by a hand-engraved octopus. For underwater sports devotees, the cross of St. Andrew’s flag (without colors) indicates the presence of divers practicing and the interior of the black rubber strap features suction cups. The Octopus is available in steel, black PVD-coated steel and black PVD-coated steel with red gold.
When asked how the company authenticate their products, Emch candidly explained: “We knew some of the people on the Titanic’s first diving mission. They offered something to us, but it was a small piece. So we contacted Harland & Wolff in Belfast (the shipyard who built the Titanic). They had a bit of steel in their museum and were willing to share it (for a price of course). We have elements of the Apollo 11 aircraft and real moon dust in the watches. We bought these all from auctions. The Statue of Liberty–it was actually they who contacted us and provided the material.”
How exactly are these pieces of history incorporated into the watch design? “We took all the pieces and melted them into watch making steel, as the steel from the boat is not the same quality as watch making steel. This does dilute the steel slightly which is why we call it DNA, but there’s always a physical element in the watches. Ultimately our aim is to evoke memories and encapsulate crucial moments in time.”
The Octopus is available at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons stores Dubai, retailing at around AED 50,500.