Hands-on review Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

GPHG 2020 nominee in the Men's Category

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The independent manufacture Romain Gauthier launched this summer a superlative timepiece – the Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition. While the Insight Micro-Rotor Collection is now part of the brand’s signature, the new watch is expressed in a high-tech case and features exceptional finishes. 

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

I have met with Romain at the end of the summer, on a rainy afternoon. The perfect weather to stay, admire and talk about watches and high-end Horlogerie. I have published the press release here and a detailed article about manufacturing this piece here. It is always a pleasure to meet Romain, especially when there is time to make a long conversation about watchmaking. I always found the Romain Gauthier pieces highly technical and innovative, but the finishes were always the ones raising the rang to the level of art.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

We can consider this piece a performance of modern watchmaking. It combines the latest studies of high-tech materials with the proficiency of hand decorations. All that combined with a revealing architecture that highlights both worlds.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Carbonium® case

Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition is revealed in a 42mm case manufactured in a high-performance, carbon fibre composite, the Carbonium®. This high-tech material was invented and it is produced in France by Lavoisier Composites.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

As you can observe in the picture above, the watch is higher on the top side. Other details visible are the carbon fibres arrangement – this is realised through a special compression-moulding process to ‘upcycle’ the epoxy resin and carbon fibres. These types of processes are used in the aerospace industry.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The case is manufactured from a single Carbonium® block with a fibre length of 50mm – the sweet spot between mouldability, aesthetics and mechanical properties. The case is shaped using a 5-axis machining process. The final detail is the matt finish. To make the case watertight, it is performed a multi-step waterproofing process involving resin injected in the microspore (specific to the carbon materials).

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The watch is fitted with a Carbonium® crown, engraved with the Romain Gauthier logo. Having the watch in hands is an extraordinary experience. An ultra-light case – 15.36g, that almost floats in hands, that is extremely comfortable on the wrist. To the light wear contributes the natural rubber strap with Carbonium® pin buckle.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Besides the high tech materials and manufacturing processes used for the case, the Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® impress on the dial/movement side.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Carbon, skeleton and high-end finishes

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition respects the Insight Micro-Rotor Collection. The key element of the time display is the monoblock Carbonium® hour-minute dial and small seconds dial.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The fibre arrangement is unique for each component. The light offers an interesting view of the fibres. Of course, the s-shaped screws keeps everything in place.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The rest of the watch face offers a view to the true beauty of Manufacture Romain Gauthier – the skeletonised ultra-light natural titanium Insight Micro-Rotor movement.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Romain has created a truly contemporary skeleton watch that is a technical and artistic tour de force – I could not agree more with this affirmation. To create this level of adorning in titanium is difficult due to the natural resistance of the metal. To achieve this level are necessary 250 hours of work.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The beauty of the movement stays not only in the exceptional anglage. The movement features hand-frosting, polishing countersinks, circular graining, straight graining and snailing. The final result can be contemplated after more than 350 hours of hand finishing.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Complex shaped bridges, exceptional finishes – horological art

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition is energised by a bidirectional micro-rotor made from 22k solid gold. The calibre is atypical – the balance wheel is visible on top, the micro-rotor is visible from both sides. But the backside of the watch offers another delight – a series of details, Romain Gauthier specific, that spoils the eyes with horological beauty.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Every component of the movement is extensively decorated. As an example the gear train, on which every wheel is skeletonised with a five petals pattern. Further decoration involves chamfering and polish.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

The barrel can hold up to 80 hours, regulated by a 4Hz balance wheel. To note the polished jewels sinks, the s-screws and the superlative finishes.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

As any high-end, independent piece, many of the details can be personalised up to a point. What will definitively remain is the exceptional care for details.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Off-the-scale hand-finishing

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition is the perfect example of excellency in watchmaking. For the independent brand, this piece is a pinnacle of expertise.

The watch is a bliss on the wrist – light and comfortable. Using carbon and titanium is extremely difficult for manufacturing but highly desirable for the end product. The watch offers an uncomparable view not only from its extraordinary open architecture but from the exceptional decoration involved. For the price, the watch is an outstanding proposal.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition Technical Specifications and Price

Features and indications

  • Off-centre hours, minutes and small seconds
  • In-house, automatic movement
  • Superlatively hand-finished, skeletonised mainplate and bridges in natural titanium
  • 22k gold bidirectional micro-rotor
  • Double mainspring barrel in series giving 80-hour power reserve
  • 42mm Carbonium® case
  • Available exclusively through Manufacture Romain Gauthier

Dial and hands

  • Carbonium® hour-minute dial and small seconds dial (monobloc)
  • Skeletonised hour and minute hands in matte-finished steel
  • Solid small seconds hand in matte-finished steel
  • Colour of hands and dial accents customisable

Movement and finishing

  • Dimensions: 32.1mm x 6.8mm
  • Power reserve: 80 hours
  • Number of jewels: 33
  • Number of components: 206
  • Balance frequency: 28,800 vph / 4Hz
  • Components in: 22k gold micro-rotor, titanium, steel, stainless steel, beryllium copper, brass and German silver
  • Choice of final finishing to the bridges and mainplate (hand-polished or matte-finished bevels)
  • Colour of plaquette engravings customisable

Case

  • Material: Carbonium®
  • Dimensions: 42mm x 12.9mm at the highest point
  • Water resistance: 50m/5atm/170ft
  • Sapphire crystal with interior anti-reflection coating, front and display back
  • Carbonium® crown for manual winding and time-setting at 2 o’clock

Strap and buckle

  • Natural rubber strap, colour customisable
  • Carbonium® pin buckle

Price

  • Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette Manufacture-Only Carbonium® Edition with hand-polished bevels on the bridges: CHF 155,000 excluding taxes

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