Raymond Weil Freelancer Calibre RW1212 Skeleton Review. BY WATCHADVICE


Raymond Weil’s latest skeleton watch comes in the form of the Freelancer 42mm Full Skeleton Calibre RW1212. Skeleton watches present a unique interpretation of watchmaking, where sometimes everything is removed down to the bare minimum to showcase nothing but just the movement and the time. 

There is something about a skeleton watch that just grabs attention. Whether it’s the human curiosity to want to know what goes on behind closed doors or whether it’s the fascination of seeing all the intricate pieces come together to create something complex yet beautiful, skeletonised timepieces can awaken the watch fanatic in all of us. 

This however does not mean that skeleton watches can always be so easy to read. Quite a common pitfall with skeletonised timepieces is that sometimes watchmakers get too caught up in the movement of the watch that they negate being able to read the time. This is mainly due to the fact that the hour indexes and hands can blend in with the movement, which can make it quite hard to read the dial at a glance. With Raymond Weil’s latest skeleton timepiece, although it has been reduced to the bare minimum to highlight the movement as much as possible, the brand, for the most part, hasn’t compromised on the readability of the dial. 

Design:

The Freelancer 42mm Full Skeleton Calibre RW1212 comes in a 42mm stainless steel with a black PVD coating case, with the crown also being stainless steel with black PVD coating. The fluted crown also comes with Raymond Weil’s signature RW monogram. The use of black PVD for the case is quite important as it acts to highlight the movement and provide a direct contrast to the inscriptions throughout the outer parts of the dial. 

The main plate on the dial has been done in black as well, which arguably is one of the reasons why the hour and minute hand can stand out so well and make it easier to read the time. The hands are also filled with sueprluminova to make it easily visible at night. The hands also have just the right finish to not stand out too much and take attention away from the movement underneath. It’s also clear enough to tell time at a quick glance. The place of origin for the brand “Geneve” and the Raymond Weil moniker has been positioned on the rehaut, which is much less intrusive on the dial. 

The balance wheel accentuated in a gold-like appearance is positioned at 6 o’clock. To further highlight the balance wheel and escapement, the twin-spoke bridge that’s holding it in place is done in black as well. At the 12 o’clock position, we can see the open-worked barrel as clear as day. Due to the open-worked nature of the barrel, we are able to see how much of it is “wound” or in tension, which will let the wearer know easily an estimate on how much power reserve is left on the watch. 

Movement:

The movement Raymond Weil has used for the Freelancer 42mm Full Skeleton Calibre RW1212, is the self-winding in-house RW1212 calibre. Raymond Weil worked closely with the Swiss movement specialist Sellita to create this movement, in which they were able to create a full open-worked movement. The RW1212 calibre movement beats to a frequency of 28, 800 VpH (4hz) and gives out a power reserve of approximately 38 hours. 

Even with a full open worked dial, the Freelancer 42mm Full Skeleton Calibre RW1212 comes with an open case back as well so that we are able to see the rotor and back of the movement. To keep in the theme of only showing the bare necessity, the rotor has been skeletonised as well and also coated in black in order to highlight the other moving parts of the movement underneath. 

How does it wear?

Straight off the bat, let’s get one thing clarified, this is not a tourbillon, although it can easily be mistaken for a tourbillon with the placement of the balance wheel at 6 o’clock. On a 6.5inch wrist, the 42mm case sits perfectly, thanks to lug to lug distance being just 48mm. Case thickness is approximately 10.6mm, which means this would be an ideal choice for office wear and better yet, a daily watch. 

 

On a 6.5inch (16.5cm) wrist

Weighing just 96 grams (including the rubber strap and buckle!), this watch can be worn for a long period and the black rubber strap is comfortable for daily wear. I enjoyed looking at the skeletonised dial, the finishing is nice on the eyes and I often found myself moving my wrist around to catch light from different angles to enjoy this dial. On the wrist, the watch feels and looks expensive, which I think is great, given its price point. The omission of the second hand and the hour markers works well in this case, as your eyes are drawn to the mainspring and the skeleton dial, but some may miss these small details.

I had the opportunity to show this watch to a few watch enthusiast friends of mine and almost all of them thought this was a tourbillon from far (and I don’t blame them). This dial is so well executed and as said before, the placement of “Raymond Weil Geneve” at 12 o’clock on the inner dial gives more room to showcase the skeletonised dial. Previously it was placed at the 3 o’clock position and took a fair bit of space in the dial.

On a 6.5inch (16.5cm) wrist

If I had to nitpick, I had one issue with the watch, it was the blacked-out sapphire glass that was used in the case back. I had to really focus on the case back to see what was going on and at times it’s hard to see the rotor which blends in with the rest of the movement. I feel that this is a missed opportunity for Raymond Weil, had they kept the case back glass clear, one could have enjoyed the case back as much as the dial. 

Priced at $4,795 AUD, I believe it’s great value for the watch you get, especially compared to the previous version. This watch feels premium and can easily come across as being more expensive. If you are in the market for a watch under 5k and are a fan of a skeletonised dial, it would be a crime not to consider the Raymond Weil Freelancer Calibre RW1212. The way the watch is presented, it can easily be one’s first watch purchase or would be a great addition to an existing collection.

On a 6.5inch (16.5cm) wrist

Raymond Weil Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton Specification:

Model Reference:2785-BKR-20000
Case Diameter: 42mm. 10.6mm thick and 48mm lug to lug
Dial: Black galvanic with a complete opening on the skeleton movement, black circular tachymeter scale
Case: Stainless steel with black PVD coating
Functions:  Hour and minutes
Movement: RW1212
Power Reserve: Min. 38 hours
Water Resistance: 10 ATM / 100 meters

 

Australian Retail Pricing: $4,795.00

Pros:

  • Unlike previous models, Full skeleton on display – best one to date 
  • Bang for buck Skeleton watch
  • Beautifully Executed – Cleanly laid out dial

CONS:

  • Some may miss the second hand
  • Some may not appreciate having no hour Indicators
  • Caseback is fully blacked out, the rotor isn’t as clearly visible

Overall Rating: 8.1/10

  • Value for money – 8/10
  • Wearability – 8.5/10
  • Design – 8/10
  • Build Quality – 8/10