The brand formerly known as Romain Jerome, now simply RJ, is well known for a particularly set of watches that they called DNA-watches. They were pioneered in creating watches that included within the case or movement parts of a rare artifact. For instance, their most famous was the Titanic DNA watch, which included pieces of the actual sunken ship as part of the watch. While this could be appear like a gimmick, the watches sold well and other brands have since followed suit, e.g., Bremont.
I was excited to see what watches RJ would show me this time at Baselworld 2019, my first time meeting with the brand at the fair. In addition to a special moon watch, which I will discuss in a different future post, the brand from Eysins, Switzerland showed me a series of fun and whimsical watches celebrating our love affair with superheroes and particularly the villains that so preoccupies them.
Collaborating with DC Comics, RJ got exclusive access and authorization to create watches that include aspects of these superheroes or supervillains. Of course, Batman would be one of these watches, but perhaps the more interesting models are the villains. Let’s take a closer look.
In the Batman and DC Comics mythology, the villains play an important role. Indeed in the Batman origin story, the Joker is the villain that kills Bruce Wayne’s parents and ends up creating the Batman character itself. Various parts of the movies (notably The Dark Knight and Batman Begins) and many of the printed comics have this idea as their main story line.
RJ tries to capture this essential plot line with their Joker and Two-face watches. Both watches include elements of the villains but also are a unique interpretation of the ARRAW case that RJ is famous for. Limited each to 100 exemplars, let’s explore each model.
The Joker watch is designed to be as flamboyant as the character it is designed to represent. Using colors that match the overall colorful but dark character, RJ designed this watch to be one that will draw attention while not screaming Joker.
The dial is hand painted with a common monochrome color scheme and pallet replicating the Joker’s own face makeup, however, no two-dials will be identical. The chronograph counters representing the dark surroundings of the Joker’s own eyes finish the dial. More interestingly, the subdial at three o’clock includes the joker ace pattern which is also replicated partly in the indices, as part of the stylized hands, and in the 45 mm titanium case pattern design.
Coming with the watch are a set of swappable green alligator straps included in a beautiful unique watch box that includes a unique Joker-inspired component. Every box contains a unique deck of cards replicating the overall color theme of the watch as well as the Joker’s overall evil playfulness.
The second villain watch is perhaps my favorite in RJ’s comic collection. It is the newest to be introduced and really hits the mark in representing the essence of the character it portrays. The Two-Face watch represents the dual personality of good and evil that Harvey Dent has transformed into in the Batman mythology. This is a character with both a light and dark side, a funny and horrible side, and a good and evil side.
The RJ watch for this character does what you would expect and does it perfectly. It divides the 45 mm titanium watch into two symmetrical parts seamlessly to represent the Two-Face character’s personality. The division is done so well that you would have a hard time noticing any seams where one ends and the other begin.
Especially interesting is that RJ’s division of the watch is done to show and hide the innards of the watch, showing the beautifully decorated black movement as if, like Harvey Dent, the dial and other parts of the watch melted away in an acid accident.
Included also in the Two-Face watch are small reminders of the important token used by this character. For instance at 9 o’clock is a running seconds in the form a of the coin that Two-Face uses when he makes life and death decisions. This is also replicated in the box where a special stamped Two-Face coin is included in every box.
The calf strap for the watch also includes the pattern of Two-Face with a smooth black and distressed grey leather and a second strap reversing the same motif. The straps are easily changed pushing the Batman logo on the side of the lugs to release them.
I’ll be up front and say that Superheroes are not really my thing. It was definitely something I grew up with and the movies are hard to escape these days — there seems to be a new one every three months making a debut in theaters.
I am not sure if it’s this over saturation with the genre or the fact that every such movies I saw since The Dark Knight (which interestingly includes both these villains as its main characters) has been less interesting and less well acted. I simply have not kept up with the recent movies. That said, I still like the genre overall. But what about these RJ watches?
Well for me these watches are meant for the hardcore superhero lover who is also into watches. Sure this is an obvious statement, but think about it, if you are truly a fan and collector of the Batman movies, having a unique watch celebrating the imaginary hero or his arch enemies, should be right into your realm. Of course, superhero lovers usually are young adults who likely do not have the means to afford these watches, however, for those with the means it perhaps makes sense. Prices for the Joker and Two-Face limited edition watches is set at €13,600 and €17,200 respectively.
Of course, with so many movies every year, if RJ could find a way to have, the heroes or villains, wear the watch in a movie, I am sure that would boost the whole concept and make these watches coveted props. À la James Bond if you may. But until then, for now, the RJ super hero and super villain watches will likely remain niche and “if you know, you know” kind of modern wrist art pieces. rjwatches.com