Super-Villains: RJ's Polarizing Joker and Two-Face Watches
RJ (formerly Romain Jerome) takes on two of DC Comics most complicated evildoers, the Joker and Two-Face.
Since their founding in 2005, RJ has always been known for its unique watches and inspired collaborations through its core collection, RJ ARRAW. In the past, they have paired up with famous pop culture icons like Batman, Spider-Man, Super Mario, and Pac-Man.
Now the small and fiercely independent company has teamed up with two of the world’s biggest entertainment conglomerates — Warner Bros. Consumer Products on behalf of DC Entertainment— to launch two timepieces inspired by a dynamic duo of comic book villains —Two-Face and The Joker.
Two-Face and the Joker are, of course, icons because they are Batman’s biggest adversaries. But these bad boys are also iconoclastic because they broke the mold of what a villain was supposed to be. Neither have superpowers: The Joker uses his technological genius to create weaponized gags, and Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) uses a standard arsenal of weapons and superior planning skills to commit his crimes.
Likewise, RJ did not take the typical career path to become a watchmaking hero. The brand started in precision mechanics with over 20 years of experience making components for the Swiss watch industry. RJ uses this engineering expertise to create limited edition timepieces with innovative mechanisms designed with collectors in mind.
The new RJ DC Comics collaboration is, says RJ CEO and Creative Director Marco Tedeschi, “first and foremost a statement in horology, combining Swiss made craftsmanship with the latest RJ ARRAW designs.”
“It is also a bold statement in creativity and pop culture,” adds Tedeschi, “taking its inspiration from one of DC Comics’ most flamboyant villains to create a watch that possesses the same flair and character.”
The Joker has been the arch-enemy of Gotham City’s number one crimefighter since the very first edition of Batman was published in 1940. In his original iteration, the Joker was depicted as a psychopathic criminal mastermind with a cruel and twisted sense of humor — the antithesis of the noble Caped Crusader.
The new RJ ARRAW Joker watch takes many cues from the aesthetic of the original version of the comic strip villain. Nods to this chaotic character appear throughout the watch, from his lethal, razor-tipped playing cards to his clownish make-up. In fact, beneath the anti-reflective sapphire glass, each Joker dial in the 100-piece limited edition is individually hand-painted, meaning no two Joker watches will be exactly the same.
The dial itself has a pressed ‘plaster’-finish that recalls The Joker’s pancake makeup. Two black eyes sit at the center of the dial which then fades to white at the edges to reflect the Joker’s contrasting skin tones.
The ARRAW Joker chronograph comes in a circular satin-brushed 45mm titanium version of RJ’s signature ARRAW case. The ARRAW collection is noted for its four rubber RJ Bumpers, carefully crafted lugs and heart-shaped hands. The case’s is capped by a titanium bezel that is laser engraved with a pattern of jingle-hatted Joker faces.
Shuffling The Deck
In the late 1950s, in response to a crackdown on violence by the Comics Code Authority, the Joker became more of a punny prankster. In the 1960s, Cesar Romero's campy take on the criminal mastermind on TV's Batman came to sum up the character’s larger-than-life look.
Likewise, the RJ ARRAW Joker watch has an equally intriguing wardrobe. The watch comes with three colorful and interchangeable straps.
There are two alligator leather straps in bright green or purple with contrast stitching match the Joker’s hair and clothing. These leather straps are lined in hard-wearing rubber, while a third full-rubber black strap comes in handy should you need to make an underwater getaway (it’s waterproof to depths up to 100 meters). Each strap is fastened using a titanium deployment buckle clasp.
All three straps can be easily switched by pressing the Batman logo release screw on the watch lugs. As part of the collectors’ edition, each watch will be presented with an exclusive deck of Joker playing cards.
Both the Joker and Two-Face are both brilliant but psychologically damaged criminal masterminds. And both entertain a dual nature. By the 1980s, even Batman became a more conflicted anti-hero in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns four-issue comic book series.
Two-Face started as good guy Harvey Dent. After a disfiguring acid attack, Dent becomes obsessed with the contradictions between good and evil. In the Dark Knight universe, Dent is released from Arkham Asylum, his face fixed with plastic surgery. But Two-Face still inhabits his psyche.
To depict the layers of Two Face’s anguish, the ARRAW Two-Face watch uses a skeletonized movement and distressed finishes to evoke the physical and mental state of bent Dent. The left-hand side of the watch is traditionally clean and structured. The right side features an exposed three-layer movement. The case and dial are distressed to suggest that acid itself has melted the metal away.
The face of the watch also alludes to Dent’s torment. The left side of the dial features a laser-engraved coin, which represents Two Face’s tendency to make life and death decisions by flipping a coin. It also serves as a turning second hand. As part of this limited to 100 collectors' edition, each watch will be presented with an exclusive coin struck specially for the creation of the watch.
It Takes Two
Who are these watches for? RJ uses fantastic movements, including their first in-house movement on this series. Because the bad guys rarely get commemorated in a timepiece, they will also appeal to anybody who identifies with the outsider. And RJ collectors will want one of each for their collections.