The biggest surprise of this year’s Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) wasn’t that impossibly complicated AP. No, it was something way simpler. Who would have thought that the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds timepiece could win the GPHG 2023 Challenge Watch Prize? Well, no one at Fratello could. But when it did, it had my full attention. And that’s why I had the winning watch shipped to HQ to find out what it was all about.

My colleagues think it was accidental, but it was actually a carefully orchestrated field test. After I received the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds, I placed it on the right side of my desk. It’s in a spot where my watch-hungry colleagues simply can’t miss it. There are two questions I will answer. The first question is: did the experiment work? The answer to that is “yes.” And the second question is: why do this experiment? Well, that question will take some more words to answer.

Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds

An office experiment with the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds

Raymond Weil is a brand that hardly gets any attention on Fratello. The last time I wrote about it was in August of last year, and before that, the last time it got more than a mention in a story was when my colleague Ben covered two new releases in 2020 and 2019. Those are slim pickings if you’re a diehard “RW” fan. But are there any? That’s another question that I will try to answer, but first things first: why do the experiment? It’s because I wanted to find out how my colleagues would react to a watch that caught my attention when I saw it pop up as the winner of the GPHG 2023 Challenge Watch Prize. It didn’t look like any RW I had seen before. It did look like a watch Longines could have made, for instance. I was very curious to see how the Fratelli would react to the RW with its sector dial.

Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds over shoulder

The charisma of the sector dial

Guess what? Everybody who noticed the watch on my desk stopped, looked at it, picked it up, and acted positively surprised. Just like me, they didn’t expect this type of watch with the name Raymond Weil on the dial. The biggest attraction is, without a shadow of a doubt, the sector dial. If there were a watch prize for dials, not the sunburst or the fumé dial but the sector dial would claim the top spot on the podium. It’s very clear that the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds (2930-STC-65001) is based on the rich heritage and traditions of horology, and it shines with its refined simplicity. In reality, though, a sector dial isn’t that simple. It’s a geometrical composition that captures the eye and pleases the brain.

Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds on wrist

The dial under the sapphire box-type crystal presents the hours, minutes, and seconds periods on discrete tracks that enhance readability. Looking closer, we can see different finishes too. The hour track is smooth, the minute track is concentrically grained, and the central area of the dial shows a fine, vertically brushed finish. Also, the recessed sub-seconds register at 6 o’clock is a nicely detailed affair.

Millesime Automatic Small Seconds

A classy watch composition

Completing the dial, the tapered, dark hour and minute hands provide plenty of contrast with the dial during the day. Not only that, but a touch of Super-LumiNova also provides readability in dark conditions. Since the dial is the obvious star of the show, other features have to wait their turn. Well, now it’s time to mention the steel 39.5 × 10.25mm case.

Raymond Weil

It has a moderate size, it’s slim enough, and it has nicely shaped and short lugs with a 46.3mm span. Consequently, it fits well on the wrist. Plus, it’s water resistant to 50 meters/165 feet. There are also a couple of details to be found here. The bezel, for instance, shows a vertically brushed satin finish that contrasts ever so delicately with its polished, beveled edge.

The gray calfskin strap with its steel pin buckle is no afterthought. It has nicely contrasting, simple white stitching that doesn’t dominate the look but strikes a nice balance between vintage and sporty. There’s also a “W” stitched detail that proudly marks this Millesime Automatic Small Seconds as a Raymond Weil timepiece.

No surprises in the movement department

The surprises here are on the outside and that lovely sector dial. Under it, the Millesime Automatic Small Seconds utilizes the self-winding RW4251 caliber. That seems to be a less Sellita SW261-1 that beats at a 4Hz frequency (28,800 vibrations per hour) and has a power reserve of 38 hours. Through the sapphire crystal on the case back, you can see the oscillating weight, and the decoration is pretty sparse aside from a W-shaped cutout.

Raymond Weil Millesime

Millésime is the French word for “vintage,” and it suits this timepiece that takes its place in a long line of sector-dial watches. The price of the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds is €1,950. Is that a price befitting a prize-winning watch that may not be the most original timepiece around but has loads of undeniable charm? My Fratello teammates like it, I like it, and the truth is, we’re not the only ones.

Do the diehard RW fans like it? Ah, the fans. Yes, the third question in this story: are there any RW fans out there? To be honest, I don’t think so. The brand has satisfied and returning customers at best. Will the Millesime Automatic Small Seconds and the other models in the small collection bring in fans? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t mean the GPHG winner isn’t worth considering if you’re on the lookout for a sector-dial watch with timeless charisma.

Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds

Let us know what you make of this watch in the comments. Was it as surprising to you as it was to us? If so, you can also check it out on the Raymond Weil website.

Watch specifications

Millesime Automatic Small Seconds
Silver with sector-style layout, black indices, sub-seconds register
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
39.5mm (diameter) × 46.3mm (lug-to-lug) × 10.25mm (thickness)
Box-style sapphire with antireflective treatment on both sides
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire display
Raymond Weil RW4251 — Sellita SW261-1 base, automatic and hand winding, 28,800vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50m)
Gray calf leather (20mm width) with white vintage-style stitching and pin buckle
Time only (hours, minutes, small seconds)