Hands-on review Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel

Romain Gauthier’s first series watch in stainless steel features a stunning dial crafted from ultra rare, visually arresting meteorite

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel on the wrist
Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel on the wrist
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel is the first timepiece created by the independent brand in… steel – as the name suggested. This limited edition was officially launched today. I got the chance to a preview and now I come with my own impressions. 

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel
Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel impress from the first view with the ultra-rare Henbury meteorite. The meteorite is boasting exceptionally coarse intersecting bands of nickel-iron crystal, making the watch very eye-catching.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel – The beauty of nature on the wrist

Since its founding, Romain Gauthier impressed with high-end pieces. The beauty of the hand finishes, the innovative movements and designs are possible only in small numbers – approximately 60 timepieces per year. So it comes as no surprise to see the Prestige HMS Stainless Steel in a limited series – only then pieces.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel
A good looking watch, on or off the wrist.

But where’s the crown?

If you are not aware of the brand, you also are not aware of the technical achievements or gimmicks that the brand use. So yes, the 43mm steel case has no visible crown. That is the key signature of Romain’s Prestige Collection.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel oblique
The Prestige’s case is a mixture of shapes and finishes.

The case’s body features a convex polished surface. The two steps bevel features the same polish applied to its lascivious curves. The curved lugs are straight-brushed, breaking the monotony of a whole mirror polished case.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel oblique crown
The right view of the watch is the same as the left one. No classic crown is present, regardless of 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock or other more or less traditional position. A trained eye will still notice the flat crown mounted on the back of the watch.

The secret of the Prestige Collection, respectively of the HMS Stainless Steel, lies on the back side of the watch. The unusual crown is a flat system hidden from the view. The crown offers, besides an aesthetical advantage, a technical one. The energy is directly transmitted to the barrel without a 90 degrees translation – less stress, more efficiency.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel back
“The crown system features a tiny ceramic ball and rubber spring. This combination handles the radial and axial forces exerted during winding and time-setting better than a conventional crown spring would, while the ceramic used for the ball is resistant to wear and reduces friction for smooth functioning. Two O-ring seals – one of which is oversized – provide the necessary waterproofing and dust protection, especially when the crown is pulled out to set the time.” – Official press release

I’m gonna send him to outer space, to find another race…

The superlative of the Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel lies not in the case material or in the phenomenal architecture and finishes of the in-house Calibre 2206 HMS. The spectacularity comes from the dial side.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel
The dial is an octahedrite, an iron meteorite discovered in 1931 at the Henbury crater field in the Northern Territory of Australia (one of the best-known meteorite impact sites).

So the Swiss watch is built with a rock arrived from outer space in a place with Kangaroos, Koala, Tasmanian devils and Dingo dogs…

My dad would often take me to mineral and gem fairs where he would buy the likes of agate, labradorite, quartz and desert rose. I think when you are a young boy, it is hard not to be fascinated by these objects, their stunning colours and shapes that, quite incredibly, have been made by nature. […] So when I first set eyes on this meteorite, the size of its crystal bands and the way they reflect the light, I knew that it was something special. It really stood out from the other iron meteorites that we are used to seeing. Immediately my thoughts turned to how I could use it for a special edition timepiece.” Romain Gauthier

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel dial details
The meteorite looks like a fairly ordinary chunk of grey metal until it is subjected to a nitric acid treatment that reveals intersecting bands of nickel-iron crystal, known as Widmanstätten patterns or Thomson structures. These structures formed during a long period of cooling within the parent asteroid.” – Press Release

To make a dial out of a meteorite is not an easy task. The manufacturing process requires special tooling. Moreover, being an iron-based material, the surface is treated anti-corrosion to preserve its appearance in time.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel dial details
The meteorite dial is adorned with gold applique hour markers filled with lume and with white printed indexes and rail track.

To ensure the legibility, the dial has all the decorations printed in white, including the minutes and small seconds registres. The hour indexes are small multifaceted triangles filled with a luminescent substance for a good low light view. The hands are manufactured in blackened steel and filled with Super-LumiNova.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel small seconds sub-dial
The small seconds sub-dial is placed at 5 o’clock. The unusual position for the second’s indication increase the charm of the watch.

What is cool about the meteorite dial is the uniqueness of each piece due to the fact that each dial has its own pattern, its own distinctive look.

The beauty that comes from within

The Romain Gauthier is established as an haute-horlogerie brand with no rabat on its finishes. The Calibre 2206 HMS follows closely the high quality that the independent brand offered over the years. The in-house movement offers a strong power reserve of 60 hours.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel back Calibre 2206 HMS
The Calibre 2206 HMS offers many eye-catching details.

The first detail that strikes is the movement’s architecture. The construction allows seeing through the components, showing a glimpse of the meteorite dial.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel back Calibre 2206 HMS
The movement features the so-called Vallée de Joux finger bridges – a gear on a pinion or shaft for each bridge.

The movement has its bridges and the mainplate treated black NAC. The mainplate was frosted by hand. The Calibre 2206 HMS features hand-chamfered bridges with straight-graining (horizontal brush) and polished, rounded bevels. The components are fixed using the brand’s signature S-slot screw heads.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel back Calibre 2206 HMS
The Vallée de Joux finger bridge with an additional engraving. A frosted plate mounted with S-slot signature screw heads bears an engraving with the timepiece’s number N°x/10

The 28,800 vph, or 4Hz, regulator features the Romain Gauthier balance wheel with curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights. The hand-assembled pallet lever that is triangular – to ensure the maximum rigidity.

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel back Calibre 2206 HMS details
The rhodium-treated and circular brushed gears offer a nice contrast on the black NAC treated mainplate background. The gears feature patented high-efficiency profiles of the gear teeth designed for optimal contact. Note the beautiful perlage (snailing) visible on the mainspring’s barrel.

Do I love it? Do I adore it? – End words

Oh yes, I do… I have a week spot for meteorite dials. The Romain’s Gauthier interpretation of the time measuring device featuring the celestial marvels is – “out of this world”. Leaving the joke and big words aside, the Prestige HMS in steel case is a beautiful watch. The intriguing case construction with no visible crown gives an elegant note. The meteorite dial makes the time reading more enjoyable.

The Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel on the wrist
The Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel on the wrist – elegance and prestige

Another important detail of this watch is the rarity of its main attraction – the meteorite dial.  The only other known sample of this meteorite is housed in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.

So you get a limited series gorgeous piece with out of space materials and with gorgeous finishes. Plus, every piece is unique in its way. So yes, I love it!

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel soldat

Romain Gauthier Prestige HMS Stainless Steel Technical Specifications and Price

Limited edition of 10 timepieces with a price of 68,000 Swiss francs, excluding taxes

Stainless steel case featuring dial made from rare Henbury meteorite

Features and indications

Hours, minutes and seconds

Entire dial made from rare Henbury octahedrite meteorite

Stainless steel case

Flat crown on caseback for ergonomic winding

Finely hand-finished, in-house movement visible through display back

Dial and hands

Off-centre hour-minute subdial at 12 o’clock

Small seconds at 5 o’clock

Super-LumiNova-filled hour and minute hands in blackened steel

Small second hand in blackened steel

Super-LumiNova-filled white gold applique hour markers

Meteorite details

Discovered at: Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve, Northern Territory, Australia

Year of discovery: 1931

Classification: Octahedrite

Movement and finishing

In-house movement Calibre 2206 HMS

Dimensions: 34mm x 5.5mm

Power reserve: 60 hours

Number of jewels: 22

Number of components: 128

Balance frequency: 28,800 vph / 4Hz

Finishing: Highest-level haute horlogerie hand-finishing

Treatment: Black NAC-treated bridges and rhodium-treated gear

Case

Material: Stainless steel

Dimensions: 43mm x 12.1mm

Water resistance: 10m/1atm/30ft

Flat crown on caseback for ergonomic winding, pulled out for time-setting

Sapphire crystal with interior anti-reflection coating, front and display back

Strap and buckle

Black alligator leather with satin-finished stainless steel pin buckle

For more information please visit the Romain Gauthier Webpage.

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