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Review: RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong

With price, hands-on analysis and live photographs.
by Simon Neo on March 3, 2017
Positives

Big appeal to fans of Donkey Kong and Super Mario.

Love the hand-made appliques, it brings the watch to life.

Use of cold enamel on the applique and satin-finish for contrast.

Negatives

Priced a bit on the high side for a "toy" watch.

RJ-Romain Jerome is known to offer a wide variety of creations across the spectrum of “Air”, “Earth”, “Sea” & “Collaborations”. Among these, the “Collaborations” collection draws a great amount of attention for its unique blend of craftsmanship and innovation, bringing collections to life. Great examples of the above would include collaborations with game makers of Tetris, Pac-Man and Pokemon. And for 2017, the RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong.

For SIHH 2017, the brand unveiled its latest collaboration with Nintendo to produce a limited series of RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong watches. Donkey Kong was specially chosen for the collaboration as it has always been the origins of Super Mario. For many who may not be familiar with the history of Super Mario, Mario made his first appearance as “Jumpman” in Donkey Kong, braving obstacles to save his girlfriend. The Donkey Kong game was first released by Nintendo back in 1981 and it was known to be the first game that puts the player to test in terms of skill and timing. RJ-Romain Jerome also released a Super Mario watch in 2016.

 

RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong

 

For this collaboration with Nintendo, Donkey Kong was specially chosen as it represents the origins of Super Mario.

For this collaboration with Nintendo, Donkey Kong was specially chosen as it represents the origins of Super Mario.

 

Case, Dial and Hands

The RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong comes in a signature Moon invader case, measuring at 46 mm in diameter and is made of black PVD-coated titanium. The dial showcases a typical game level in Donkey Kong where Mario is avoiding barrels thrown at him by an angry Donkey Kong. We find it very interesting that the structure and ladders in this depicted level were intentionally left uncolored, this allowed for both Donkey Kong and Mario to appear more prominent on the dial.

 

The dial showcases a typical game level in Donkey Kong where Mario is avoiding barrels thrown at him by an angry Donkey Kong.

The dial showcases a typical game level in Donkey Kong where Mario is avoiding barrels thrown at him by an angry Donkey Kong.

 

As this is a Nintendo game dating back to 1981, RJ-Romain Jerome set out to create that pixelated effect on the dial. This was achieved by relying on many different techniques and finishes to attain an overall deep 3D effect on the dial which is captivating to the eye. If one looks closely at the dial details, one would notice the structure and ladders are satin-finished to allow for a contrast between it and the DLC-coated dial, enhancing the 3D effect. The overall result is one which is remarkable in the colour intensity and brilliance.

 

The pixelated effect on the dial was achieved by relying on many different techniques and finishes to attain an overall deep 3D effect.

The pixelated effect on the dial was achieved by relying on many different techniques and finishes to attain an overall deep 3D effect.

 

Furthermore, to enhance the “Nintendo” effect, the appliques of both Donkey Kong and Mario have been hand-painted in cold enamel in the game’s original colours, and then applied by hand. The dial also features an oxidized black and satin-brushed hour and minute hands with Superluminova C1 “blue emission”, enhancing the legibility of the dial in dark conditions.

 

The Movement

The RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong is powered by the RJ001-A, a mechanical self-winding movement operating at 28,800 vph and featuring a power reserve of 42 hours. It beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations an hour, contains 23 jewels and it packs 42 hours of power reserve. The RJ001-A is the standard movement used in numerous other RJ-Romain Jerome watches.

The RJ001-A is based on the Valjoux/ETA 7750, with the date and chronograph functions stripped off. This is not a totally new concept to use a donor base movement with the complications stripped. The early automatic Panerais with subsecond at 9 feature a similar stripped Valjoux. These were known as OPIII by Panerai, and was used in the Panerai PAM48 and PAM104, though Panerai retained the date.

The watch does not feature an open case back, and we did not have the opportunity to open the back to view the movement. The characteristic 7750 wobble of the spinning rotor can be felt as one shakes the case. The case back is pretty unique as it features a grainy-textured stellar-patterned with Donkey Kong medallion.

 

The case back features a grainy-textured stellar-patterned with Donkey Kong medallion.

The case back features a grainy-textured stellar-patterned with Donkey Kong medallion.

 

Concluding Thoughts

The RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong is one of a kind and would certainly excite avid fans of Super Mario & Donkey Kong. We like how RJ-Romain Jerome made special efforts to bring the dial decorations to life utilizing special techniques and finishes. The smart choice of finishes and colors on the appliques help to give the watch its own character, in sync with the aesthetics of 1981.

The RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong comes in a limited series of 81 pieces, to symbolize the year Donkey Kong was released in. The watch strap is black vulcanized rubber with grainy-textured interior of stellar-patterned and features a black PVD-coated steel folding clasp. The RJ-Romain Jerome Donkey Kong is selling at S$ 24,800 with GST (same price as the Super Mario). At that price, fans of Donkey Kong and Super Mario may be keenly attracted, but perhaps the regular watch collector might find it a tad pricey. Fun watch, nonetheless.

 

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