Due to the fact the Swiss Franc is performing so well at the moment it has made the watch industry a tough environment to survive in. For the large groups like Rolex, Swatch, Richemont and LVMH that is not a particular problem. Even though their profits might have declined slightly they will be able to weather the storm. However the smaller independent watchmakers have to be a lot more resourceful and come up with sustainable strategies. In my opinion they can only achieve this with ingenious marketing campaigns and sophisticated designs. Swiss brand RJ Romain Jerome perfectly illustrates this point.

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For a long time I have admired the talents of Yvan Arpa, especially his eccentric approach to watchmaking. His own brand ArtyA has incorporated blood, butterfly wings; tobacco leaves and shredded Euro bank notes into the dials. Maybe these idiosyncratic designs won’t appeal to the masses but it has gained him a lot of positive exposure. Effectively ArtyA is an extension of the work he did with RJ Romain Jerome. During his three-year period with the company (as CEO) he was instrumental in developing the now famous DNA collection of watches.

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Even though I have written numerous articles for Total Watch Reviews (and other reputable magazines) I have only published one hands on review. This editorial featured the wonderful Moon Dust-DNA Black Mood Ochre. Thanks to the courtesy of the Paragon Boutique in Singapore (http://www.thehourglass.com) I got access to try on the fantastic Capsule Tattoo. Dimensionally the timepiece is much larger than the Black Mood Ochre and has a diameter measuring 50mm. Although I found the watch felt fairly comfortable to wear it did feel slightly heavier than I expected. For a watch retailing over $18,000 I would have definitely expected the use of a much more exotic material than 316L steel.

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Visually the Tattoo Capsule delivers on its promise and has a really striking appearance. It is not the first time that a watchmaker has explored the Tattoo theme. Just over a year ago I featured Linde Werdelin’s sensational Oktopus Moon Tattoo with a hand engraved gold case. The concept of the Tattoo Capsule is slightly different and design mostly revolves around the dial. I love the distinctive façade depicting a sailboat anchor with bolts of lightning. Accomplished artist Mo Coppoletta has created this sublime three-dimensional embossed style illustration. Other successful features include open-worked hour/minute hands, textured black bezel, oversized crown and sapphire crystal lens.

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At the heart of the watch is a bespoke self-winding movement developed by Lajoux Perret. Normally RJ Romain Jerome purchases these mechanisms in ébauche form and then assembles/decorates in house. The Caliber RJ001-A comprises 23-jewels and oscillates at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz). Functionally the Tattoo Capsule features hours, minutes and has a power reserve of 42-hours.

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The Tattoo Capsule (as tested) has a black textile strap with matching black PVD matching buckle and is limited to only 25 pieces worldwide. Priced at: $18,450.

For more information about RJ Romain Jerome visit the company’s website: http://www.romainjerome.ch

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