Behind all those classic dress watches, there’s always been a certain audacity lying at the heart of RAYMOND WEIL. This, after all, is the underdog brand that dared to launch in 1976 when the quartz crisis was raging and the Swiss watch industry was teetering on the brink. Yet RAYMOND WEIL, the brand’s eponymous founder, was undeterred by such harbingers of doom. Pluckily sticking to his conviction that there was a gap in the market for an entry-level luxury watch, he quit his day-job and struck out alone. Forty-five years on, it’s fair to say the gamble has paid off.
That bold spirit continues to inform the approach of one of the last remaining independent Swiss watchmakers (now headed by his grandson, Elie Bernheim). When it comes to RAYMOND WEIL’s watches, that character is most readily evident in the brand’s Freelancer range. Launched in 2007, the collection was designed for the modern man with a full-contact lifestyle who’s determined to remain in control of his own destiny. Featuring an eclectic mix of mechanical watches, the pieces in the Freelancer range are united by their robust functionality and keen price points – qualities that continue to make this RAYMOND WEIL’s best-selling collection.
Chronographs have always been the watch of choice for every self-respecting man of action. Effectively they serves as mechanical stopwatches, their visual identity defined by the presence of sub-dials that keep track of seconds and elapsed minutes and hours. The Freelancer family includes its own handsome range of automatic chronographs that mix functionality with sharp, modern looks.
First things first: these watches are built to perform with 48-hour power reserves and water resistance of 100 metres. But RAYMOND WEIL adds style to substance with the inclusion of genuine calf-leather straps that ensure these chronographs will shine in any professional setting.
While chronograph dials can sometimes feel a touch busy, these are configured with the design nous to ensure the overall impression remains sporty yet refined. Options include a gorgeous blue dial that really pops off the leather strap or a sophisticated silver for a slightly dressier aesthetic.
Open balance wheels
One of the secret pleasures of a mechanical watch is the fact that it’s propelled by a meticulously assembled network of tiny cogs and gears that all work together in a harmony of engineering. But all this craftsmanship is traditionally hidden from view beneath the surface of the dial.
The Freelancer range offers a neat solution by fitting the RW1212 collection with apertures in the dial to offer a glimpse of the balance wheel that drives the in-house movement within. The diamond-polished balance wheel and skeletonized bridges ensure transparent visibility extending to the very heart of the watch. Named Calibre RW1212 as a nod to the postal code of the company headquarters in Grand-Lancy, it pays tribute to RAYMOND WEIL’s determination to highlight the richness of watchmaking expertise, while infusing it with its uniquely free-spirited attitude.
Surrounding this opening, the centre of the dial is indented with a micro-grid pattern that gives way to an outer ring with a smoother texture to encapsulate the hour indexes. There’s just enough detail to add interest, while ensuring the spotlight remains with the balance wheel’s hypnotic thrum.
The Freelancer “Calibre RW1212” comes in several versions, featuring a silver, blue, black or green dial teamed with a steel case and bracelet, or with a leather strap, as well as in two-tone variations featuring matching bracelets or leather straps.
A skeletonised dial exposes all of a watch’s internal engineering. In a way they’re a demonstration of a mechanical watch’s true credentials but, more importantly, they make for a mesmerising spectacle on your wrist. A skeleton dial is always something of a statement piece that demands closer inspection.
The Freelancer skeletons invite you to admire their in-house self-winding mechanical movements in all their glory, the internal architecture beautifully delivered with additional polishing and decoration.
While legibility can prove an issue with these dials, RAYMOND WEIL neatly presents the skeletonised main-plate in black to provide a solid backdrop against which the selected parts of the movement can really shine.
RAYMOND WEIL asserts its ambition for innovation with the dial completely opened, offering a view of the balance wheel at 6 o’clock and exposing the manufacturing beauty, and highlighting the richness of watchmaking expertise. The new stylish skeleton Calibre RW1212 is proof of the ever-evolving achievements to these in-house movements. Make no bones about it - this is a watch that proves it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
The Freelancer “Calibre RW1212” Skeleton is available as a black PVD case with a rubber stitched strap or a Bronze & Stainless Steel case with an aged brown leather strap.