When it comes to watches featured reused, repurposed, or otherwise recycled movements, I am all ears. I like the idea of new life getting breathed into these tiny mechanical machines which, if properly maintained, can live for quite a long time. Sure, vintage movements may not have the accuracy of modern movements, but there is no doubt of the appeal of a 100+ year old movement ticking away on your wrist. Which brings us to today’s watch. the R. Paige Duo.
While we may not have featured stuff from Richard Paige before, his work should be familiar to our readers. He’s collaborated with Mark Carson on a few different models, as you can see here. With the R. Paige Duo, we have a watch that showcases something that’s become rather popular lately – a freshly-maintained pocket watch movement (and dial) getting fitted into a modern case. While some brands have opted for 3D printing to generate their cases, Paige has gone with a more traditional case (I presume cast and machined, but one supposes it could be fully machined).
The R. Paige Duo definitely is wearing it’s own case, though, as evidenced by the lugs. They are articulated, which of course gives it a better fit to your write (important for a 44mm case). That’s not the only reason, though. You see, the R. Paige Duo is meant to be worn movement side up. That’s why the lugs are articulated as they are, and also why the watch features quick-change spring bars. It’s a simple matter to flip the strap pieces around, and then you have a nice bit of metal artwork going on your wrist.
That also explains why the R. Paige Duo has such a flat profile. If there was any curve to the top crystal, or something different to the case back, it would give a weird feel on the wrist. Here, though, things are kept flat with fairly minimal (and flat) bezels surrounding the sapphire crystals, front and back. In the case of our loaner, it featured a movement from Illinois Watch Company (made in 1914, it has 17 jewels, swan neck regulator, and gold-finished screws), which was particularly fitting as that’s where I call home. The movement itself is beautiful, with the sort of finishing and construction you rarely see these days. I also liked the golden accents that show up on the movement (mostly in the screws), which pick up the golden tone of the dial.
Oh, and that dial on the R. Paige Duo? Yet another work of metal art, for sure. As with the movements, these dials are vintage ones as well, rescued from dusty drawers and long-forgotten boxes (or so I like to imagine). This one is a rare Sterling silver die struck dial with an actual plate of gold fused to the top. There is a small bit of rework done on them (such as with the R. Paige logo) but it’s kept in theme with the overall design of the watch dial. In this, you certainly feel that Paige has an appreciation and understanding of what it is that he’s breathing new life into, honoring it’s past while bringing it forward.
And what he’s honoring with watches like the R. Paige Duo is the history of American watchmaking. With the movements, he features either Waltham (out of Massachusetts) or Elgin (from Illinois) movements. For one thing, that gives it a uniquely American story. By consolidating what movements are being leveraged, it allows for expertise to be built up in maintaining the movements, as well as practical manufacturing considerations for the cases, etc. I would presume the dials follow the same sort of idea, given that, in that era, dials were the size of the movements (not like the dramatic need for spacers we see in todays constructions).
All of this is to say that yes, the R. Paige Duo is a lovely watch, and one that a person who is into watches, and into the history of the industry, would certainly appreciate (I mean, just look at the weights on the balance wheel, you don’t see that today; see those below). Of course, as we all know, how a watch looks is only part of the story – how it wears can be just as important.
As you would imagine, with a 44mm steel case and a 57mm lug-to-lug measurement, this is a watch that wears big. The articulated lugs help to ameliorate that a bit, but I felt that it was a touch large on my 7.25” wrist (then again, folks have different tastes). For a big watch, though, I fit pretty well. Part of that is the fact that it’s only 12mm thick. Combined with the flat profile top and bottom, you can fit the watch under the cuff fairly simply. Slipping it back out to read the time is a snap as well, and with the big dial, reading the time is a cinch (even with an all-metal dial like we have here).
In a nod to modern tastes, the handset on the R. Paige Duo does have a bit of lume to it, so you can check the time in the dark. It’s nothing that you’ll be reading maps by, but it gets the job done, for a few hours at least. Of course, all of that is out the window if you wear the watch in it’s reversed configuration. I did do that for a day, just to get a feel for it. While you certainly aren’t telling time any more (that would be a clever trick), you do get to see the artistry that was used to build the movement. In this way, it’s a nod to an even older history of watches, when they were really more of ornamentation and jewelry than a functional tool. While I wouldn’t expect owners would wear it reversed regularly, it’s fun to do – and, as we all admit, there are plenty of other ways to check the time these days.
As I said at the outset, I like seeing old movements being given new life. The R. Paige Duo further cements that feeling of mine. While I may not have selected this particular example myself (and you do have some customization options with movement and dial selection; this is why pricing ranges from $2,400 – $3,500) given the large golden dial, there is a lot to like here. It’s a modernized vintage look, with true vintage roots courtesy of the dial and movement. Many of us might have thought about taking apart an old pocket watch to get a better feel for how they work. With Paige’s creations, you can just admire them for their beauty, and not have to worry about how you’ll get the thing back together again. rpaigewatch.com
- Brand & Model: R. Paige Duo
- Price: $2,400 – $3,500 depending on dial and movement
- Who’s it for? This is for someone who appreciates and enjoys the artistry of older pocket watches, and wants to be able to carry one with them daily – without needing a waistcoat
- Would I wear it? This one in particular? Probably not, due to the gold tone of the dial. If it was one of Paige’s enamel dials, though, then the calculus swings in the the watches favor
- What I’d change: I know standardizing on movements sizes helps things, but I’m wondering if there’s a smaller caliber out there that would enable a more compact (say, 40mm) watch case
- The best thing about it: It has to be that dial and movement – hard to be the original stuff!
- Case: Polished Stainless Steel sapphire crystal front and display back.
- Dimensions: 44mm diameter, 12mm thick, 57 mm end to end
- Movement: Waltham or Elgin antique/vintage American pocket watch movement.
- Dial: Original antique/vintage metal and enamel dials.
- Weight: Steel case – 95 grams
- Price: $2,400 to $3500
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