C.F. Martin & Co is widely known as the premier maker of acoustic guitars. For the milestone of the making of its two millionth guitar, it turned to the world of hand-crafted watches to create a one-of-a-kind instrument.
“There is a connection between people who like fine guitars and fine watches and we've decided to bring those two together with something that’s pretty special. When we started this project we didn’t know where we would end up,” said Chris Martin IV, chairman and CEO of C.F. Martin & Co. “The budget became what it needed to be to get it done right.”
To do this the 184-year-old Nazareth, Pa.-based company partnered with custom watchmaker, Roland G. Murphy, owner of RGM Watch Co. in nearby Mount Joy, Pa. What they created is a fully playable guitar with the artistic interpretation of the mechanics of a watch on the front, back and fretboard; and with a RGM watch embedded into the headstock of the piece.
In addition, custom Waverly steel tuners were fashioned by Murphy with rose gold guilloché-engraved inserts that resemble a watch crown. The center of the caps features the “keystone” shape that signifies the nickname of Pennsylvania as the “Keystone State.” The watch movement, clearly visible from the back of the headstock, has its own crown in the same style as the tuners. The shape of the watch was modified to fit into the wedge shape of the headstock.
It’s based on the Martin D-45 style body, with the back and sides constructed from Brazilian rosewood. The top is crafted from bearclaw Engelmann spruce.
Robert Goetzl artist and illustrator who worked on the design, said it took 18 sketches to get it right. He consulted with Murphy to ensure the overall artwork was both aesthetically pleasing and technically accurate.
Martin did not disclose the value of the guitar and it will not be sold. However, it will be on view at the Winter NAMM 2017 music trade show in Anaheim, Calif., January 19 - 22, 2017.
In addition to the one-of-a-kind guitar, Martin and RGM also collaborated on a D-200 Deluxe guitar with many of the same features. It’s based on Martin’s classic 14-fret Style 45 Dreadnought with the top crafted from bearclaw Engelmann spruce that features an aluminum rosette with guilloché engraving.
The guitar's back of pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood is inlaid with watch gears cut from reconstituted stone, mother-of-pearl, bloodwood, Hawaiian koa and ebony. The soundboard inlays feature a minute track in mother-of-pearl, birdseye maple, flamed Hawaiian koa and ebony, and a pickguard with pearl inlaid watch gears. Another decorative detail is the triple-strand abalone pearl striping that bisects the length of each side, referencing the early Spanish-inspired instruments of C. F. Martin Sr. The maple bound ebony fingerboard shows watch gear mechanisms. Each guitar comes with a newly designed watch from RGM that references details from the D-200 guitar design and bears a matching serial number with each edition of the instrument.
Limited to 50, the guitar retails for $149,999 and also will be unveiled at Winter NAMM 2017.
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