Roger Dubuis History: A Fresh Take On Extravagance
Roger Dubuis History: A Fresh Take On ExtravaganceHarold2019-12-26T11:00:30-05:00
Roger Dubuis is a Genevese watch brand (see all brands) with an emphasis on both innovation and creativity in its offerings. This company seeks to push the boundaries of watch design, therefore, dial and case designs are typically very unorthodox.
These include, for example, a watch with multiple straps, another with four balance wheels, or miniature knights serving as markers. The brand became increasingly avant-garde in its movements as its capacity to create more of its movement components increased.
Today, nearly every component of a Roger Dubuis movement is in-house. Therefore, its designers can run wild with out-of-this world concepts. This also means the company’s timepieces can include relatively rare complications, such as jumping seconds.
Other features often appearing in these movements include extreme skeletonization, and more usual ultra-high-end features like multiple flying tourbillons.
Images: Roger Dubuis
Though only around since the 1990s, this watchmaker fully embraces modernity with its distinctive creative direction. Still, in seeking and receiving the honor of the Geneva Seal, this company shows its respect for traditional horology.
The brand has boutiques across the world, but with an emphasis on Asia and its home Switzerland. Its focus is on unique designs, most often in limited editions, so production numbers of each watch are generally low.
Because of this, the watches don’t appear in a traditional catalogue, as each new line sells out quickly after release. To learn more about this company brief, yet eventful history, continue reading; otherwise, follow these links to jump ahead:
Because of their industry experience, the brand’s founders, Roger Dubuis and Carlos Dias, knew exactly what their goal was. Firstly, starting a brand-new watchmaking house was a perfect opportunity to invent a never-before seen aesthetic.
However, they also wanted to prove their mettle by attaining the revered Poinçon de Genève, the Geneva Seal.
The duo used Roger’s name because he was the movement designer. While Roger was the brains behind the movements, Carlos came up with many of the brand’s memorable designs.
Roger had a long career that included companies such as Longines, Patek Philippe and Harry Winston. He worked at Patek Philippe from the mid 1960s until 1980, and worked independently afterwards, designing by contract, until 1995.
This was when he founded the Société Genevoise des Montres, or SOGEM, with his friend and collaborator Carlos Dias. However, in 1996, when the company released its first collections, it was under the name Roger Dubuis – Horloger Genevois.
Specifically, these were the Sympathie and Hommage collections, and Roger himself made many of these first watches. A little later, the company’s eye-catchingly unusual designs and ingenious horology gained an eager following in East Asia.
The watchmaker continued to expand; in 1999 it opened in North America and, during that same year, it became a manufacture. Dubuis and Dias, however, wanted to take their production even further.
The company not only makes the movements, but nearly all components, from hairsprings and arbors right down to screws. The addition of smaller parts manufacturing took place between 2003 and 2005.
The manufacture also gradually got all of its in-house movements certified with the Geneva Seal. This requires a great deal of traditional finishing and polishing in order to achieve, eliminating nearly all machining marks.
During the increase in parts manufacturing capabilities, the size and complexity of the brand’s Meyrin, Geneva facilities skyrocketed. Accordingly, the growth of the firm was getting faster than Dias and Dubuis could keep up with.
In 2005, Dubuis left, and then, in 2008, Carlos Dias sold his 60% of the company. The brand had success early on and demonstrated its great potential, but lukewarm sales and complaints of unreliability bode ill.
Richemont bought Dias’ 60%, and thus set to work repositioning the watch house for greatness. The group repurposed parts of the Roger Dubuis facilities; for example, one of the watchmaking ateliers went to Cartier.
In general, though Dias’ role was over at the brand, Richemont continued the brand in his manner. Dubuis was hired back in 2011, though the extravagance of design that increases by the year evokes Dias’ direction.
Artistry & Excellence in Excalibur
The best example of this is perhaps the Excalibur series, which began when the enormous Meyrin facility opened.
The spirit of the collection is to exhibit not only mechanical virtuosity but design that celebrates tradition and history.
For example, the Excalibur Knights of The Round Table line draws from Arthurian legend, executing it with exquisite craftsmanship.
All models in the series feature twelve knights standing while pointing their swords towards the center of the Round Table.
The first release, which debuted during SSIH 2013, features a recreation of the Round Table of Winchester Castle. Each knight is not identical; instead, every one is an individual 18k rose gold sculpture cast from its own mold.
On the dial’s scene, the knights hold their swords out towards one another while pointing to a central Tudor rose. This longtime symbol of England appeared on the Winchester Round Table, an addition to the table during Henry VIII’s reign.
Subsequent releases display the same Round Table scene, though increasingly abstracted. The third of these, for instance, takes the design in a direction that is equal parts lapidary and Las Vegas.
Specifically, in this third entry, alternating wedges of gold and vitreous blue enamel radiate from the center. The translucent blue enamel and faceted golden knights evoke fine jewelry, while the radiating pattern resembles a roulette wheel.
Quatuor: Strategic Dissonance
While the Knights of the Round Table’s design exudes chivalry of a long-gone era, the Quatuor’s look is science fiction. However, the altogether improbable complexity and precision of this watch’s mechanism is no fiction.
In order to achieve incredible accuracy, The Excalibur Quatuor fits four spring balances in a single automatic movement. These are placed at an incline, in order to maximize visibility, and more easily fit inside the case.
Each balance has a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. Although the name “Quatuor,” French for quartet, suggests four balances in harmony, this is intentionally not the case.
All four balances oscillate off-beat with each other, so that a differential gear system may average their output. This then allows the watch to nullify inaccuracies that outside forces introduce on the balance, including gravity and other motions.
Because of this, the Quatuor has an extremely rapid, quadrupled ticking sound.Because of this system, the watch achieves an error of one tenth of a second per day. This is far below the COSC mechanical chronometer standard of -4/+6 seconds/day.
Indeed, this is low even for quartz movements, and would pass the COSC requirements of ±0.2 seconds/day for quartz chronometers. Naturally, this technology is exceedingly difficult to implement and manufacture, therefore the watch sells for over $1 million USD.
Fascinating to many, but outrageous to others, Roger Dubuis watches can be quite divisive. Certainly, for any occasion, these timepieces make a bold statement.
Find the brand’s collections on the official site, which uses descriptions like “deliberately extravagant,” an extremely fitting description. You might also like to read about specific calibers; the official site has individual descriptions with depictions of all components.
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