Romain Jerome Spacecraft

To state the obvious, the Romain Jerome Spacecraft is not for wallflowers.
This is not a Clark Kent watch.  This is a Bruce Wayne watch.

Photography by Ronald Chew

by The Balance Coq

  • December 6, 2023

Here at TBC, we have a bit of a thing for driver’s watches.  Driver’s watches feature an angled dial that allows the wearer to see the time when their hands are at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.  A prime example would be the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.  And Tiffany & Co. with their East West Automatic.  On the other end of the price range, there is the Seiko x Giugiaro Speedmaster.   And Autodromo built their success on the back of affordable driver’s watches.  But no, these are not the driver’s watches we are talking about.  Our proclivity is for the wedge-shaped ones that took after the Amida Digitrend .  Watches like Girard-Perregaux’s Casquette, the MB&F HM5, the HMX, the HM8, the HM8 Mark 2 , or even their MoonMachine 2.  These are the ones that keep us up at night.

And because of its vaguely-wedge shape, one might be mistaken in thinking that the Romain Jerome Spacecraft is an example of a driver’s watch.  There is, however, a marked difference in how the Spacecraft and say, the HM5, tells time.  One reads time off the HM5 from the side, as is the norm for watches of this ilk.  In the case of the Spacecraft, reading the time requires looking at both the top of the case as well as the side. Hardly practical then when you’re doing barely legal speeds on the outer lanes.

Everything about the Romain Jerome Spacecraft challenges norms – from how one reads it, to how it looks like a watch piece for Darth Vader.  And there is a reason for that.  OK, there are actually three good reasons for that, if you insist on being pedantic about this watch’s creation.

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The first reason is Manuel Emch .  Emch, who ran Romain Jerome at the time as its CEO, has a sharp sense of humour and refined eye for art.  One needs to only look at the ongoing revival of Louis Erard under his stewartship (as both a not-CEO and shareholder).  Is it too big a stretch of the imagination to consider the Spacecraft a precursor to what Emch is doing now with the visually arresting Silberstein and Chaykin collaborations?  Both endeavours have produced functional pieces of art through-and-through, and like all good art should, it is best when not everyone agrees that they like how it makes them feel.

The second, and perhaps most important reason, is Eric Giroud .  The amply-talented watch designer for hire is credited for the design of the Spacecraft case.  Giroud – who interestingly also collaborated with Emch for Louis Erard – has done everything from sober efforts with mainstream brands like Tissot and Mido, to the many Legacy Machines and Horology Machines. It is safe to say he breathed refinement onto the Spacecraft design brief and anchored the design to production reality.

What watch is complete without a geared heart?  To that end, Emch enlisted the services of legendary watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht (he of Harry Winston Double Retrograde Perpetual Calendar fame) to put function into form. The Caliber RJ2000-A automatic movement is an ETA 2892 with an exclusive-to-RJ module on top. It features a lateral placed, linear read hour display with a jumping and retrograde hours setup. When fully wound, it provides 38 hours of power. That figure is less than what the base movement would usually provide, but given that torque needs to be distributed to the piggyback module, the performance should be considered adequate.

Surely given the shape of the Spacecraft case, the time display would prove to be a challenge.  Granted the Spacecraft is not Wiederrecht’s finest work – given his lifelong obsession with legibility – but the result was inventively necessary.  First, one needs to look at the linear scale of hour markers pointing out to the side of the watch. An orange arm sits behind the current hour. Next, one needs to look at the small window with a view of a disc on the top of the case that offers the minutes.  Does it make for a quick legible experience?  In truth, a resolute no.  But with enough practice, the wearer should be able to tell time pretty quickly off the Spacecraft (and the even more exclusive Black variant).

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Untitled design

The Spacecraft has a titanium-and-steel case, replete with matt finished triangular surfaces that cover the top of the case and extend to sides.  The watch is actually smaller than it looks, measuring 44.5mm at its widest, 32.85mm at its narrowest and 50mm long.  Just as cars and swimming pools do not go well together, so too is the case for the Spacecraft and water.  It only has 30 metres water resistance, which should discourage most owners from bringing theirs to any event involving water sports.

The Romain Jerome Spacecraft only has a total production run of 99 pieces.  The Spacecraft Black variant that was mentioned earlier on has a run of only 25 pieces.  Given the depth of horological talent involved in the making of this watch, both are compelling pieces of art.  If you can find a good example of either variant, do not hesitate.  In the meantime, work on your billionaire superhero alter-ego persona.

Specifications

BrandRomain Jerome
ModelSpacecraft
ReferenceRJ.M.AU.SC.001.01
Case MaterialTitanium and steel
Case Width44.5mm
Case Height18.5mm
Lug-to-Lug50mm
Lug Width20mm
MovementRJ2000-A (modified ETA 2892)
Production99 pieces; discontinued
WearsTrue to size

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