Very Subtle Master Wayne: The Romain Jerome Batman DNA Gotham City
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"I know we can, but should we?" is a phrase that has never once been uttered at Romain Jerome. The brand seems to have a perverse pleasure in offering delightfully ridiculous watches whose designs seem at odds with the price tag that accompany them. Founded in 2004, Romain Jerome specializes in creating watches that have the "DNA of legends" inside of them. Their past watches have included the Moon DNA collection that incorporates pieces of steel from Apollo 11 and the Titanic DNA which has seen coal and pieces of steel incorporated into the dial and case of the watch. Just as some found the notion of selling pieces of the Titanic controversial, I'm sure there is a whole different audience arguing about the validity of Romain Jerome's latest offering, the Batman DNA Gotham City DNA.
In my mind a Batman themed luxury Swiss watch is silly. Replace the Superluminova with a back-lit LED operated by a Bat-shaped pusher and you've got yourself a Happy Meal toy. Spending nearly $20,000 on a Batman themed watch is tantamount to sheer lunacy. With all of that in mind, the Romain Jerome Batman-DNA Gotham City is awesome, a joyful combination of childish glee and Swiss engineering. The Batman DNA Gotham City is the third watch that Romain Jerome have made to honor the World's Greatest Detective. In 2014 we saw the first Batman DNA watch which has an almost identical case with the same clamps seemingly holding down a bezel that looks ready to explode. 2015's Spacecraft: Batman looks like a cross between The Dark Knight Trilogy's Batmobile and 1970's muscle car dashboard with only the smallest Bat symbol placed above the hour track as a nod to the Caped Crusader.
The 46mm steel black PVD case is huge with the straight almost architectural looking lugs surely only adding to the size it wears on the wrist. The leathery folds and crackles of the black horn black crocodile leather strap evoke the feeling of a bat's outstretched wings with a black PVD clasp that matches the color of the case. It is the dial that really is the selling point of this watch with the Bat Symbol taking pride of place in the center, a forced perspective of the fictional Gotham city in 3D beneath it. The design is similar to the advertisements for The Dark Knight Rises where the Bat symbol was created in reverse silhouette out of crumbling towers.
Like Gotham City itself it is at night that the watch shows it's true colors. The "streets" of the watch have been painted in black superluminova which in darkness transform into a brilliant bright blue. Whilst I really enjoy the effect it is odd to see such a vivid color used on a watch that seems to revel in the darker side of the Dark Knight. The case back has an engraving reading "The Dark Knight Returns" which is considered one of Batman's greatest, and darkest, stories which sees an older Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to brutally attack crime in Gotham City. Not quite the spandex and "POW SPLAT KAPOW" of Adam West. The lack of hour markers and black on gray on black on black aesthetic limits the functionality of the Gotham City but at $19,500 it's safe to assume that those in the position to buy this watch can afford to have people wait for them.
What is strange is that there is no real "DNA" of Batman inside the watch despite a partnership with Warner Bros and DC Comics. I would have thought a piece of the Batmobile (Take your pick Romain, you've got seven to chose from), a strip of fabric from a suit or even a piece of the comic could have found it's way inside. One of my favorite pieces of history seen in a watch is the Bremont Codebreaker which has a piece of paper used in the breaking of the Enigma machine as a serial number reference. Romain Jerome would have received the ire of angry fans if they have chosen to use a page from the first outing of Batman as original copies can cost up to $400,000.
You don't need me to tell you whether or not to buy this watch. The Venn diagram of "Batman fans" "Luxury Swiss Watch buyers" "People with $20,000 spare" has a very small intersection but one full of people dedicated enough to have already placed an order. To those who can order one I salute you but also ask should you?