RJ-Romain Jerome Octopus

RJ-Romain Jerome just launched its first diver’s watch, the Octopus.  It’s about time, really – the RJ DNA of legends collection started years ago with the Titanic-DNA model, but contrary to the understandable perception that a watch made with steel from the sunken Titanic would be a dive watch, the Titanic watch was in fact not a diver.    The “Octopus” is named after the ocean giant that became a powerful symbol in Jules Verne’s famous novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  It comes with a decent set of dive spec’s and a neat inner-rotating sapphire bezel system, though not what I would have expected for the price.  The reality seems to be that most of the attention on this watch seems focused around the symbolism of the Octopus theme and the rich detail incorporated into the case.  Available in three different versions and priced from $13,750, you can see them all below.

RJ-Romain Jerome Octopus

Limited edition 888 pieces in each of steel, black PVD-coated steel and black PVD-coated steel with red gold

46mm steel case with bezel notched in stabilised rusted steel from the Titanic, 270m water resistance, automatic mechanical movement, One crown at 9 o’clock to set the watch and a second crown at 3 o’clock for the internal rotating bezel, Hand-engraved Octopus stamped on the case back, hours, minutes and seconds enhanced with “blue emission” Superluminova

CEO Manuel Emch indicated that he wanted this diver’s watch to be different in terms of both its aesthetic expression and its technical execution.  To this end RJ touts the dual-crown design and an “exclusive unidrectional rotating sapphire bezel system.”  And then there is the “Octo” theme, with several details of the watch echoing the number eight:  eight octagon head screws on the 45mm case as well as on the back of the watch which is stamped by a hand-engraved octopus, two screw-locked crowns are adorned with eight rivets, a water resistance rating of 888 feet (270 meters), and each piece a limited edition of 888 pieces.  As well the black rubber strap has suction cups (on the inside) like the ones found on the arms of an octopus.

On the above features I can acknowledge the unique aesthetic expression — the overall look is commendable.  But as to what is technically different about this piece, well its hard to say.  The depth rating is at the low end of the range for respectable divers, and there is really no detail on the movement or its origins except to note that it is an automatic mechanical.  As well, RJ does not elaborate on what seems to be a neat internal sapphire bezel system.  On this front, I think RJ has a huge opportunity to further develop their brand.  It is known that RJ uses reliable and easily adaptable calibers sourced from La Joux Perret and Concepto.  OK, fine.  But I think that a more special and/or unique movement — this in combination with the powerful “stories” that RJ sells today, could really elevate the brand.

Clearly the emphasis here is more form than function, and that’s OK.  RJ does a great job with its cases and dials — they are made with unique materials and incorporate fine and original details.  This is really what RJ is all about — the symbolism, the emotional connection of its watches.  RJ sells themselves as a creator of stories, not as a manufacture of movements.  I personally think that if they could also bring a bit more focus on the mechanics, the movement, of their watches, that RJ-Romain Jerome would have an even more compelling offering.  Overall, though, nicely done.