Romain Jerome is a luxury watch company that does not shy away from fun and entertaining designs. Though they have plenty of more traditional dials and cases, their expertise translates well to crafting nostalgia-fueled timepieces. Now known as “RJ” due to a recent rebranding (2018), RJ has turned heads with iconic characters and franchises on their dials. On top of this, they’ve managed to generally geek out time-and-again since their horological pursuits began in 2004. Indeed, despite their young age—RJ has established its brand well in the world of watches over the past 15 years. Technophiles and everyday folks alike can appreciate their work. With the backing of Nintendo, Marvel, and DC (talk about a crossover), as well as a variety of “DNA” watches that are infused with stone and steel from volcanoes, the Titanic, and Earth’s Moon, RJ is a luxury watch powerhouse with refreshing ideas in timekeeping. Their movements are technically sound tourbillon Swiss builds that can withstand the elements quite well, while keeping high-end levels of time. For the sake of focus, we’re going to have a quick look at the laundry list of popular culture watches they’ve released over the last few years. With certified, licensed timepieces, RJ has taken icons from the world of entertainment—and boosted their brand quickly as a result.
The current list of big names RJ has under its belt includes many heavy hitters: Tetris, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Space Invaders, Pokémon, Batman, the Joker, Two Face, and Spiderman. Each of these timepieces has hand carved and painted characters that pay great respect to each franchise/character. The first of these releases was their 2012 debut of the Space Invaders watch. It was part of their Moon Invader watch series—which included watches made with actual moon dust. As it went, RJ landed a deal with Taito, the publisher of Space Invaders, not long after introducing their Moon Invader series. From there, RJ kept making connections and pushing for icons to end up on their dials. Before any of this however, their first iconic figure was the famed RMS Titanic. Being a controversial release, this watch featured actual pieces of the Titanic in its make. Though seen as disrespectful by some, this watch—along with their Moon Invader series—put RJ on the lips of luxury watch enthusiasts around the world. This gave them a boost in tackling iconic figures on their dials. After Space Invaders came Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong (featuring “Jumpman” aka Mario), after a licensing deal with Nintendo. As well, Tetris—the groundbreaking puzzle video game—was released near these Nintendo themed pieces.
Being no strangers to being geeky, RJ has/still releases steampunk designs. One particularly skeletal watch was their Batman watch. Kicking off other DC themed watches (featuring villains Joker and Two Face), this Batarang centerpiece watch has a glow-in-the-dark Batman logo among exposed gears. Any would-be Dark Knights out there, with a Bruce Wayne sized pocket book, can get their hands on it. It’s a pitch black design on almost everything, except for when the lights go out. At this point, the Batman logo glows blue, as if Commissioner Gordon himself is calling the night-time hero out to fight for vigilante justice.
Staying ever topical, RJ has recently released Pokémon and Spiderman wristwatches, too. With recent successes at the box office, these franchises have been doing a great job with their licensing, generally. RJ has been answering this nostalgic call quite well in the luxury watch world. In a previous post, we discussed both the RJ Pikachu and “Pokémon Tourbillon” watches. With the recent resurgence in Pokémon GO players, and with new Poké-films lined up for release, these timely releases are a delight—albeit quite expensive (running up to 200K USD). On top of the Pokémon deals RJ has struck, recent Marvel film releases make RJ’s rights to make a Spiderman watch seem almost like a lottery win. With a Spider-Man topped display at Baselworld last year, this timepiece debuted with much fanfare. Lucky Spidey fans, of the horological variety, got a skeleton face tourbillon dial—featuring the webslinger’s iconic chest piece. As it goes with RJ, they’re very well connected with the new wave of pop culture nostalgia that’s grabbing hold of audiences around the globe.
To some, it may seem strange or even unholy to make a luxury watch with a pop culture design. This is especially true considering that many timepiece enthusiasts (especially on the higher end of things) enjoy traditional wristwatches, and pride multiple complications over popular culture designs. However, these RJ timepieces are more than worth their weight in technical craftsmanship. As well, their existence represents a new generation in timekeeping where you don’t have to be a child—or buy a watch made out of plastic—to wear a beloved character or theme on your wrist. It’s incredibly surprising that not too many other luxury brands are taking this kind of leap in design. After all, despite luxury watches having a niche market, many pop culture franchises have a reach across all social strata. Even for those who cannot afford the price tag, the existence of these watches shows a more democratized exercise in luxury watch design. Can everyone afford them? No. But do they appeal to a massive audience—definitely. After all, everyone was young once, and many of these games, themes, and characters hold a heartfelt history with fans of all walks. So, good on you Romain Jerome (RJ), we look forward to admiring more of your work in the future.
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