Watches: RJ-Romain Jerome Día de los Muertos Resucitado

By Thierry Ané on November 3, 2014

RJ-Romain Jerome’s experiments with the Mexican holiday known as “Día de los Muertos” started back in 2012 with two 25-piece limited editions part of the then called “Capsules” collection (renamed the “Collaborations” now). Featuring a stunning dial with a skull-shaped appliqué adorned with a champlevé decoration, cold enamelled in different colours, with a cross on the middle of the skull or without the cross, these stunning timepieces could have just been a one-time creation just like other “icons”, be they “artistic” like the Tattoo-DNA or “generational” like the DeLorean-DNA.

It appears, however, that this colourful and extremely graphic celebration and remembrance of friends and family members who have passed away remains a great source of inspiration for the brand’s design team. Indeed, last year the brand introduced the extremely refined “Día de los Muertos Diamante”, a magnificent collection of no less than 5 different models adding the sparkles of black sapphires or white diamonds to the visually striking skull appliqué.

In my opinion, gem-set timepieces quickly become tacky, particularly so when they include a decorative motif, but this is not the case here: not only are these creations tasteful and refined, they are also extremely original in the way the precious stones are set on the bezel. They thus represent a perfect expansion of the original “Día de los Muertos” series.

For 2014, this “historical icon” comes back with four additional models, again in limited runs of 25 pieces for each version, that manage to bring something new to the “Día de los Muertos” saga and make the collector in me wish I had bought all the 2012 and 2013 renditions and start a themed mini-collection!

The “Día de los Muertos Resucitado” offers a range of new dial designs in the same 46 mm black PVD case and black ceramic bezel as the previous versions. The new timepieces are still powered by the self-winding RJ001-A calibre, a time-only movement that offers 42 hours of power reserve. These beautiful timepieces water-resistant to a depth of 30 meters are mounted on black horn-back alligator strap secured by a folding buckle for an additional touch of elegance.

What makes each rendition special is the design of the “calaveras”, the skull in the middle of the black mirror-polished dial with the characteristic engraved traverses and applied black “RJ” logo. Two of these precious “Memento Mori”, nicknamed respectively Blanco y Negro and Negro y Blanco, are the negative version of each other (save for the cross on the skull again). They play on the tried and tested black and white colour scheme to bring out the gloomy side of this “day of the dead” celebrated by many cultures, albeit in different forms.

My personal favourite is called the Azul Pastel and boasts a great-looking “calaveras” in different shades of blue, purple and pink. These cold colours work perfectly with the “death” theme but still bring some light to the dial. Since they are pastel, they appear less “garish” than the yellow, red and green combination of the original model and become therefore more than ever in sync with the “Memento Mori” iconography.

The last version, namely the Oro Rojo, is a tribute to gold, a metal that has always had a special place in the culture of Latin-American countries. Here again, the designers show a lot of restraint to keep the timepiece utterly tasteful: the red gold is mainly used for RJ-Romain Jerome’s iconic four paws that hold the black ceramic bezel and the hours and minutes hands. Subtle hints of red gold-coloured enamel are also used to enhance the beauty of the otherwise all-black skull appliqué.

The “Día de los Muertos Resucitado” Blanco y Negro, Negro y Blanco, and Azul Pastel will retail for US$ 18,500 while the Oro Rojo model will cost US$ 20,950. They all are extremely appealing watches with the right touch of originality making the problem of choice a very difficult task…

For more information please visit the RJ-Romain Jerome web site.