Raymond Weil, one of the few independent, family-owned operations in the Swiss watch industry, marked their 40th birthday this year. And while I’m sure there was cake, and perhaps even champagne, the best part of the celebrations has to be the Calibre RW1212.
This automatic movement, with distinctive open-heart escapement, is unique to Raymond Weil, designed in-house and made by Sellita. RW1212 marks the first time Raymond Weil have dipped their toes into the deep (and often murky) waters of in-house movements, and it’s a testament to the brand that they’ve been transparent about the movement’s design, development and construction, and they’ve made a mechanism that meets their needs, in that it’s a solid, robust automatic, with a touch of drama, thanks to the design of the escapement, which has been positioned in such a way to allow an uninterrupted view from the dial-side, suspended via a diamond-polished double bridge, a look that evokes (very consciously, I suspect) the placement of a tourbillon.
While closer inspection (of the watch, or the price tag) reveals that the RW1212 isn’t a tourbillon, the effect is somewhat the same — allowing the user to see the beating heart of their watch. It’s a nice touch, and one that many people getting into mechanical watchmaking will appreciate.
The movement might be the hero of the watch, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. The rest of this Freelancer is finished to the same neat and attractive standard, with elements like the hands and hour makers tying this model into the rest of the Freelancer family. Then there’s the hobnail pattern on the central dial section, which adds some more visual fun (in case you tire of the escapement). But beyond this, the Freelancer is still very much a sensible, and rather stylish, daily dress watch, offered in a range of options, including steel and two-tone with yellow or rose gold PVD-plated options, on bracelet or leather. This versatility means it has ample potential for wearing up or down, as required. The case is well-sized at 42.5mm across and a pleasingly slender 10.6mm profile. The fact that the watch also has a 100m water rating is also a point in its favour as a reliable daily wearer.
That Raymond Weil has chosen now to release their own movement speaks to the fact that the market for well-priced mechanicals is increasingly competitive, and also that Raymond Weil isn’t content to rest on their laurels, and is continuing to evolve with a changing watch market. But what I really want to know is: what will the follow-up act to the RW1212 be?
Raymond Weil Freelancer Calibre RW1212 Australian pricing
Raymond Weil Freelancer Calibre RW1212, two tone on bracelet, $3150, on leather $2850
Images by Jason Reekie.