Romain Gauthier timepieces have been hailed for their eye-catching designs, innovative in-house movements and extremely high level of hand-finishing. The latest creation by the independent Swiss manufacturer of watches based in Le Sentier and Vallée de Joux, Switzerland is Insight Micro-Rotor Lady Opal – “a luxury ladies’ watch that sees colour, sparkle and sublime craftsmanship spectacularly come together.”
Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Lady Opal is a five-piece limited edition in 18k red gold.
The semi-transparent crystal opal used to make the dial and mainplate cover of Insight Micro-Rotor Lady Opal is from the town of Coober Pedy in South Australia, often described as the opal capital of the world. It was collected at source by a connoisseur of rare gemstone almost half a century ago.
This precious opal is regarded as the finest thanks to its highly stable internal structure that makes it diffract light, resultingin a resplendent play of colour. Its compactness and low porosity mean its vibrant appearance will remain constant overtime.
Developed, produced, decorated, assembled and regulated at Manufacture Romain Gauthier in the Vallée de Joux,Switzerland, Insight Micro-Rotor Lady Opal’s movement has been designed to be highly visible so the observer canacquire an immediate appreciation of the mesmerising mechanics and immaculate hand-finishing, hence the moniker“Insight”. The superlative movement decoration includes hand-made and hand-polished bevels, hand-frosting,circular-graining, straight-graining and snailing, in addition to hand-made and hand-polished jewel countersinks.
The hour-minute subdial, small seconds and mainplate cover are made out of semi-transparent Australian crystal opal thathas been skilfully finished by hand. This gemstone exhibits flashes of pink, green, purple and turquoise in a majestic play of colour.
Powering the indications is an in-house, automatic calibre that boasts a 22k gold bidirectional micro-rotor, the front ofwhich is snow set with brilliant-cut diamonds of varying sizes.
The scintillating micro-rotor is framed by a cut-out in the opal-adorned mainplate. It turns smoothly and inaudibly betweentwo bridges, each fitted with a friction-minimising, wear-resistant ruby bearing. In whichever direction the micro-rotorsways, it winds a serially operating double mainspring barrel offering 80 hours of power at full wind.
Other design details of the case include a lip in the caseband that flares out to join with the bezel; the crown positioned at 2 o’clock to free up space for wrist movement; and the bombé sapphire crystal which rises so that its highest point is over the hour-minute display, the de facto centre of the dial.
More of the movement can be admired through the display back. Here, the micro-rotor can be seen engaging the visible train of gears, beginning with the reversing gear that gives the mechanism its bidirectionality. The gears and ratchet wheels are notable for their circular spokes which have been bevelled.
Finally, the golden bridges – which feature hand-made, hand-polished bevels and jewel countersinks – are secured in place using Romain Gauthier’s in-house screws with S-slot heads.
Australian crystal opal dial and mainplate cover
Given that each opal dial and mainplate cover is different, and each arrangement of the diamonds decorating the microrotor is different, no two Insight Micro-Rotor Lady Opals watches look the same.
Once the raw opal is carefully selected, a wire saw is used to remove an ultra thin slice which is then fixed onto a heated baseplate with tree resin, after which the outline of the hour-minute subdial, small seconds and mainplate cover are cut using a three-axe machining centre.
The one-piece mainplate cover bears a complex shape with a figure of eight cut in the centre to accommodate the small seconds and balance wheel.
Insight Micro-Rotor Lady, Romain Gauthier’s first ladies’ timepiece was firs introduced in 2018. At SIHH 2018, the luxury Swiss manufacture presented a limited edition in red gold featuring stunning in-house automatic movement, snow-set micro- rotor and shimmering mother-of-pearl dial.