There was a time when America dominated the world of horology. However, that day is long past, and now there’s only one company in the entire country that can legitimately claim to manufacture their own movements (other than some artisan watchmakers who make fewer than 5 pieces per year). Seriously, only one. That company is RGM. The fact that so few brands have been able to accomplish manufacturing a movement outside of the watch hubs of Switzerland and Germany gives you an idea of just how difficult a feat that is.
Roland G. Murphy’s fascination with horology started when he was in high school working in the wood shop of a clock company, making their cabinets.1 Subsequently, he enrolled in the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then enrolled in the WOSTEP school in Switzerland in 1986. Upon graduating, he returned to Lancaster, PA to work in product development for Hamilton Watch Company. Soon, he attained the position of Technical Manager. In 1992, it was time for Murphy to strike off on his own, and RGM was established.
For the first decade and a half of the brand’s history, RGM used ETA movements for his watches. In 2008 he was finally able to realize his first movement, the Caliber 801. Since then, he has added two more movements, a tourbillon and a tonneau-shaped movement with moon phase, to the catalog of in-house calibers.
While RGM does indeed make bona-fide in-house movements, not all of RGM’s current watches contain those in-house movements. To their credit, they are clear about this fact, and clearly display which movement is in each watch on their website. When you think about it, that’s more than can be said for even some of the most prestigious Swiss brands who also use external movements on some of their watches, but often obscure that fact.
1 – RGM website