Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor
Best Things Come in Small Packages
Despite the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor measuring a mere 39.5mm in diameter, it contains twin barrels which deliver a prodigious power reserve of 80 hours. Angus Davies gets hands-on with this impressive exemplar of haute horlogerie.
A friend of mine is incredibly petite, but despite her lack of inches she is blessed with much intellect and spirit. Indeed, despite being small, there is much virtue to be found in her compact frame. The same could equally be said of the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor which, despite measuring a modest 39.5mm in diameter, is imbued with much mechanical merit.
During Baselworld 2017, I made the acquaintance of the Insight Micro-Rotor and fell under its beguiling spell.
The dial / front of the case
The hours and minutes are presented on a subdial just below noon. The hour track is adorned with Roman numerals and the dial canvas is presented in oven-fired blue enamel. The base of the dial is formed of 18-carat white gold. The hour and minutes are a fascinating design, featuring open-worked detail which affords small glimpses of the dial epidermis below.
Overlapping the hour and minutes subdial is a small seconds display. Again, this dial surface is composed of oven-fired blue enamel, while a sole white gold hand conveys the running seconds. In the upper echelons of the subdial an S-slot screw holds everything together in steadfast union.
Despite the two subdials being small, they remain highly legible and supremely stylish.
At 4 o’ clock a cartouche proclaims the initials of the talented watchmaker responsible for this impressive creation. Occupying the southern hemisphere of the dial is the balance which features a Breguet overcoil. Furthermore, the rim of the elaborately styled balance wheel features masselottes.
Positioned at 9 o’clock is the bi-directional micro-rotor adorned with a spiral-shaped motif. The jewel sinks and screw sinks are highly polished, the surfaces of the main plate and bridges are frosted and the bevels beautifully gleam in contrast. Interestingly, the bevels are not straight but arc, bestowing a slightly different appearance to most anglage I encounter.
Where this dial excels is with the seemingly simple appearance to its composition. Moreover, the bridges float effortlessly conferring a sublime perception of weightlessness. This is a beautiful watch.
The modest dimensions of the case, merely 39.5mm in diameter, ensure that the watch has widespread appeal and, according to Romain Gauthier, the watch ‘sits comfortably, even on slimmer wrists’.
The case of the model I lusted over in Basel was formed of the noblest of metals, 950 platinum, however, alternative versions are available in 18-carat red gold. The bezel is highly polished, while other surfaces are satin-finished exuding a comparatively muted air.
A winding crown is positioned at 2 o’clock, mitigating the risk of skin abrasions and congruent with the overall aesthetics of the watch granting a neatness to proceedings.
The bombé sapphire crystal ‘gradually rises towards 12 o’clock before steeply dropping again’, resulting in the case having a depth of 12.9mm at its highest point.
The movement / rear of the case
Four ‘plaquettes’ come to the fore when appraising the rear of the case. They specify the jewel count, the maker’s name, the place of origin and the serial number from the limited series.
On the left flank of the case (crown side, when viewed from the back), two spring barrels are almost revealed in their entirety. Each is adorned with a spiral-shaped motif similar to the aforementioned micro-rotor.
The jewel sinks are polished and the brand’s S-slot screws abound. The large micro-rotor bridge is beautifully expressed with glorious bevels gracing its form. Again, the bevels are not straight but bow, casting different shadows than straight flanks.
The two spring barrels collaborate in series to deliver an impressive power reserve of 80 hours. The motion of the micro-rotor is whisper quiet and harnesses the merest of subtle movements when worn.
Where this movement excels, setting aside the peerless finishing, is the open disclosure of the barrels and micro-rotor. Everything is clearly visible, enticing the wearer to move closer and absorb every morsel of detail.
During my time in Baselworld 2017, I was repeatedly asked which timepieces were my favourite. There were a few watches which elicited words of praise from my direction. However, one watch which always came to the fore was the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor.
This watch may be compact yet, somehow, all the desirable attributes of a fine timepiece are present. Furthermore, despite its neatness, every element has sufficient space to breathe and allow the observer to quaff each subtle detail and nuance.
Do the best things come in small packages? Based on my experience with the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor I think the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
- Model: Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor
- Case: 950 Platinum; diameter 39.5mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
- Movement: Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 28 jewels; 206 components
- Strap: Alligator leather strap with white gold pin buckle.