In May 1859, American Chess Master Paul Morphy was presented with a pocket watch from the Testimonial Committee of the New York Chess Club as a tribute to his genius and worth. Morphy had recently returned from Europe where his dominant play gave rise to a hero’s welcome back home in America. The watch, made by American Watch Company, was an elegant specimen of art and ingenuity. Unfortunately, it vanished sometime after 1921.

Not much is known about what happened to the pocket watch given to Morphy for his achievements; today only the original dial survives, on display at the NAWCC Watch and Clock museum in Columbia, PA, USA. It was here that RGM’s Roland Murphy first saw this unique enamel dial that he knew would one day be the inspiration in an RGM model.

Instead of the usual Roman numerals on the dial, various chess pieces represent the hours, finely done in red and black.

The Black King stands at twelve, the Red King at six, the Queens at one and eleven, Bishops at two and ten, Knights at three and nine, Rooks at four and eight, and Pawns at five and seven. RGM chose to create their enamel dial with similar chess pieces indicating the hours. “Chess in Enamel” also marks the first time RGM has released a double-sunk Grand Feu enamel dial in one of its models.

“Perhaps the most accurate player who ever lived, he would beat anybody today in a set-match. He had complete sight of the board and seldom blundered even though he moved quite rapidly. I’ve played over hundreds of his games and am continually surprised and entertained by his ingenuity”. – Bobby Fischer (on Paul Morphy)

The inspiration for the watch is from a pocket watch that was given to American Chess Master Paul Morphy in 1859 by the New York Chess Club at a Testimonial Dinner upon his return from Europe, where his dominant play had given risen to a hero’s welcome back home in America.  Paul Morphy was considered by many to be the greatest chess player of his era.

The original watch given to Paul Morphy was made by the American Watch Co, later known as Waltham Watch Co.  Morphy visited the factory in Waltham, Massachusetts on May 30, 1859, and was given a tour.  The original dial was designed by John Webb, Jr., head of Waltham’s dial department.

Under this extraordinary dial is RGM’s original in-house movement: Caliber 801, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017.

Inspired by America’s great watchmaking history, the 801 highlights classic bridge shapes, reminiscent of Keystone Howard Watch Company’s “Edward Howard” model. The unique winding click is inspired by the Illinois “Bunn Special.” Like the great Railroad watches from America’s past, the 801 features a high-grade finish that denotes the quality of its construction, including polished and blued steel components. The movement can also be customized.

The watch is housed in a polished stainless steel “Pennsylvania series” case. With its large lugs and ribbed sides, the watch is architecture on the wrist. Like many of the components of the Caliber 801, the case is also made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, and finished by hand. Inspired by Pennsylvania’s popular nickname, blued steel Keystone hands mark the time. The Keystone winding crown completes the Pennsylvania theme.

RGM is beginning the celebration of its 25th anniversary by immortalizing Chess in enamel. This truly unique piece will last for generations – like the dial that inspired it. Limited to 25 pieces in stainless steel.