History of Rpaige Watch
- The story of the Rpaige “Wrocket” watch begins with a milestone birthday celebration. My wife, knowing I was a watch fanatic and collector, and a 4th generation watchmaker, who has been collecting watches since I was a teenager, decided to buy me a special gift of a watch for my birthday. She wanted to spend between $2,000 to $3,000 for my gift, and she was excited that I would find the perfect watch for such a vast sum. She knows I collect steel and titanium watches. So in we walked, arm and arm, into a national, high profile, watch chain store. All of the great, and less great, brands were represented, and they even had their own brand of watches. “Show me everything between $2,000 and $3,000”. And out they came, all shapes and sizes, mechanical and quartz, with all sorts of complications. But, not a “Great Swiss House” brand in the bunch: no Jaegers, IWCs, Panerais, Breguets, Ulysse Nardins, Pateks, Vacherons, Blancpains, Cartiers, nor Zeniths. What was more frustrating, was that all the watches of lesser known brands that we were shown, all used the same basic mechanical movement: the ETA brand caliber. Was this what the watch industry had evolved into? The same insides with a brand name slapped on the dial? Wasn’t there any watch in the store, for this price range, that I would want for this special gift? This is where the story of Rpaige Wrocket really starts.
- I had founded several vintage and modern watch stores in the San Francisco Bay area, starting in the 1970s through 2001. I had seen the “death” of the mechanical watches in the 1970s, replaced by the electronic, battery operated quartz movements. And I had been in the business long enough to see the resurrection of the Swiss watch industry in the 1990s, as well as the extinction of the American watch Industry in the 1960s. And I personally witnessed the prices of watches go from relatively affordable, to expensive and beyond. The question kept nagging me for months after the watch store experience: could a watch be produced for under $3,000 that was a limited production, relevant, important, and not just another “Me Too” watch??? I needed to find out.I had previously produced four limited edition watches for my website, TimeZone.com, in the late 1990’s and completed the final watch edition in 2002. These limited edition watches were made exclusively by well known watch companies, who were looking for a platform for their brands on the internet, and to promote their brand on TimeZone.com. These watch companies had the foresight to understand that the internet would eventually become a major source of adverting, promotion and sales for their brands, and by joining up with TimeZone.com, the leading and most popular watch website at the time, they could expose themselves to this important audience. Thus the limited edition TimeZone watches were born., and proved to be highly successful, each limited edition model sold out. However, a lot has changed since I produced those limited edition watches, and the industry was evolving into a “war of attrition”: most of the well known brand name watches were bought up by the large Swiss watch conglomerates, the biggest player being the Swatch Group. Swatch owns around 18 different brands, including Breguet, Omega, Tissot, Blancpain, Tiffany & Co, Longines, Rado, Hamilton. But the real dominance of this conglomerate is their ownership of ETA, otherwise known as, ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse. ETA produces the vast majority of swiss watch movements for worldwide distribution to greater and lesser watch companies, specifically their workhorse movement, the ETA 2824-2. In short, about 80% of Swiss watches sold worldwide have these movements in their watch, regardless of brand! To me, the mechanical movement or “engine” of the watch is of the upmost importance. It’s the heart and soul of a watch, and determines the brand’s relevance, worth, prestige, and historical place in the watch world. Since I’m not a watch movement manufacturer, I needed to have a movement that fit my idea of importance for my new watch. I couldn’t use an ETA, that would make me another “Me Too” watch, and I couldn’t use a “great House” movement, that would make the watch way too expensive for my parameter of a watch under $3,000. Where could I turn? I turned to my roots. I had learned to fix watches on old American pocket watch movements. These are great teaching devices because the plates, wheels and parts are “oversized” compared to wristwatch movements, and it’s easier to understand watch mechanical theory by being able to visually see the parts in action.