GTTP: Preview Of The New Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton
Editor’s Note: Just need a quick watch fix? This preview of the new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton is a GET TO THE POINT (GTTP) review with all the info you want / need to know QUICK. Let’s get to the point.
What Is It
The new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton Calibre RW1212 in two-tone bronze debuting a more comprehensive skeletonised look than its 2018 Baselworld predecessors. It is also available in stainless steel with black PVD coating model ref. 2785-BKR-20000, and joins the brand’s pre-existing skeletonised family that includes 3 models from 2018. It retails for 4’795 AUD and impressively features a (somewhat) in-house movement, and a 100m water-resistance thanks to the screwed-down case-back and crown
Because not everyone can afford a Jaquet Droz or Girard-Perregaux skeletonised timepiece. Or a tourbillon. The new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton kinda offers both of the above at a fraction of a price, while still retaining the coveted Swiss-made tag. I say kinda because this is not a tourbillon but replicates its aesthetics by placing a balance wheel at 6’o clock
When released: 05 May 2021
“Calibre RW1212 is a tribute to the present and a symbol of the future. Its name picks up the digits of our address here in Switzerland: 1212, standing for the Geneva suburb Grand-Lancy. It symbolizes the path we have travelled to date and the free-spirited approach we bring to watchmaking. It is our first in-house movement, born from our partnership with the Swiss movement manufacturer Sellita”Elie Bernheim, CEO, Raymond Weil
Who Is It For
It’s not so much for seasoned watch collectors as it is for watch enthusiasts who would like a solidly built skeletonised timepiece that is Swiss-made, decently water-resistant, and looks rugged and handsome with the use of Bronze, and something that they can wear on a daily basis and proudly flaunt a rather different looking timepiece
Skeletonised watches are not everyone’s cup of tea, so this might have a polarising effect. But if this style floats your boat, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton is definitely one of better looking skeletonised watches in this price segment out there, one that features a bespoke movement rather than using a movement that’s not designed to be exposed.
That said, for nearly 5k AUD, there are a plethora of options around, from brands such as Tissot, Oris, Hamilton, Maurice Lacroix and Alexander Shorokhoff. It faces some competition and price point challenges, and frankly, unless we get the chance to go hands-on, it is a bit hard to say how well this performs against other offerings.
The new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton ref. 2785-SBC-60000 features the somewhat in-house — specially made for the brand but from third-party Sellita — that is the star of the show here.
I was quite impressed by the last year’s Raymond Weil Freelancer Green ref. 2780-STC-52001 that featured a beautiful Clous de Paris in the centre of the dial and the same case dimensions of 42 x 10.6mm, and had the same balance wheel visible on the dial at 6’o clock, and was a more pocket-friendly version at only 3’150 AUD upon release and has now increased to (a still very decent) 3’395 AUD .
It also featured the same movement, RW1212. The independent Swiss watchmaking Maison has been producing watches since 1976 but it was only in 2017 that they designed a bespoke in-house movement that was in turn developed by the Swiss movement manufacturer Sellita. The heart used — calibre RW1212 — is a self-winding mechanical movement with a slender two-spoke balance bridge, escape wheel and a visible balance wheel beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h).
The brand officially lists the movement specifications as being 5.47mm thick and providing a 38-hour power reserve and based on my knowledge, I would say it is a modified SW400-1 S b or SW400-1 S a given the movement architecture.
It could also be a skeletonised version of the workhorse SW200 family, but in all fairness, doesn’t look like an SW200-1 alteration or SW400-1 S c as those movements are only 25.60mm while the others I have mentioned above are bigger at 31mm and seem more befitting of the case diameter of 42mm.
The SW300 skeleton family usually provides a much higher power reserve, and given the low 38-hour power reserve of the Calibre RW1212, I doubt it is that family as well.
Though all of these are slimmer at 4.67mm thickness, so my best guess is that Raymond Weil has modified a Sellita SW400 family member.
In the end, whatever base movement it is, or if it’s completely designed from scratch, it still appears to be a workhorse movement that for all intents and purposes should be reliable. The take-away for watch enthusiasts is that the calibre RW1212 is definitely solid performing, and is also handsomely finished and decorated.
How Does It Do
Independents rarely provide cheaper offerings, and one of the most admirable aspects of Raymond Weil is that since its inception it has provided the watch community with well built and good-looking Swiss watches at affordable prices. The new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton ups the ante.
Most brands at this price point will feature borrowed movements that usually are not designed to be exposed and to give credit where due, I commend the brand for putting in the effort.
From the press images, I really like the presence of the slim bronze bezel that should develop a nice patina over time. This bezel also stands in strong contrast to the brushed sides of the steel case, providing a sense of nuance that’s carried over onto the dial with the play of golden lume-filled hands against greyed movement landscape.
Looking from the top, even though the case is rather large at 42mm, the grey chapter ring sits lower than the bezel and brings in a sense of visual depth. And the slim 10.6mm thickness means that it will sit low and definitely fit under the cuffs. I would have personally preferred a second’s hand, but I don’t think its absence is a deal-breaker in any way.
The aged brown distressed leather strap nicely complements the bronze bezel and features what appears to be a secure and easy to use stainless steel folding clasp with a double push-security system. A small detail that I like the most is the presence of the complementary bronzed and fluted screw with the RW monogram crown.
In-house movements these days carry an extra price tag, so anyone wanting to scratch that itch at this price point will be pleased with this offering. If you are someone who likes skeletonised watches but found the first generation of the RW not up to your taste, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton Calibre RW1212 should change your mind; it further opens up the movement and presents with a timepiece that is a sure shot conversation starter.
To find out more about the new Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton Calibre RW1212 and other RW watches, head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy © 2021 RAYMOND WEIL GENÈVE. To read our in-depth hands-on reviews, please head here.