Never mind haute horlogerie—hyper horology is where it’s at with Roger Dubuis

By Alvin Wong 9 October, 2023

Now operating under the auspices of luxury conglomerate Richemont, Roger Dubuis has not only stayed faithful to its founder’s horological philosophy, but charged it up with a greater spirit of audacity

Remember that child from school who used to rile the teachers with strange questions, bend the rules whenever he could and didn’t care about homework, but always aced the finals? If that child were a company or brand, he would be hailed as a ‘disruptor’ in modern corporate parlance. Highly upsetting for those who are wedded to the status quo, for sure, but recognised nonetheless for off-kilter ways that inexplicably spawn success.

Fully integrated and independent, the Roger Dubuis manufacture located in the heart of Geneva is dedicated to the cause of hyper horology. Photo by Roger Dubuis

In the world of horology, too, there are many watchmakers and brands who’d love to be that child. In fact, the truly successful have always been those with guts and gumption to go where no other brands dared; by creating new mechanisms, rethinking ways to display time and challenging design conventions. The old guards from the 18th century, especially, demonstrated the spirit of disruption with fearlessness and finesse. That many of them continue to flourish today is proof that fortune favours the brave.

But to be fair, those legacy watch brands started with carte blanche. They set new standards and wrote blueprints for a new age of horology when there were previously none. Modern watch brands have it tougher. After all, how many more ways can one reinvent a timepiece? And more crucially, who would dare take a chance on a watch that veers far beyond the tried and tested?

Mr Roger Dubuis. Photo by Roger Dubuis

Hyper horology

Roger Dubuis may not have all the answers, but it is not shying away from attempting them. A bona fide modern watch brand that was founded only in 1995—a fledgling compared to companies with centuries-old histories—Roger Dubuis has been a disruptor right from its inception.

The brand’s late namesake founder was a master watchmaker who paved the way for the emergence of niche but highly esteemed modern-day independent watch brands in the late 1990s. Upon Dubuis’ passing in 2017, the company’s employees issued a joint statement hailing his “unique mastery of haute horlogerie and avantgarde vision”.

Now operating under the auspices of luxury conglomerate Richemont, Roger Dubuis has not only stayed faithful to its founder’s horological philosophy, but charged it up with a greater spirit of audacity. At the Watches and Wonders exposition in Geneva earlier this year, the brand even officially trademarked its ‘hyper horology’ modus operandi, a term that it introduced in 2022.

All Roger Dubuis’ watches are produced entirely in-house at its headquarters, and bear the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Hallmark) of quality excellence. Photo by Roger Dubuis

Derived from the Greek root word that means ‘over’, ‘hyper’, as expressed by Roger Dubuis’ watches, is exactly that—creations that go over the edge. One easily discerns the brand’s penchant for excess and extravagance in watches that brandish radical complications and designs. Whether on futuristic skeletonised tourbillons with neon bridges, a mini-horological sculpture depicting the knights of the round table or racy Lamborghini-inspired limited editions, these examples of hyper horology are designed to send collectors’ hearts thumping.

To take an even broader view, hyper horology expresses adrenaline-fuelled creativity that goes beyond watchmaking. It embodies a spirit of boldness; a rallying call, if you like, for like-minded thrill-seekers to embrace the extreme fringes of high-end contemporary watchmaking.

The Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph (price upon request) features a newly designed in-house automatic movement. Photo by Roger Dubuis

Free radicals

The Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph that graces this issue’s cover counts among several new Roger Dubuis models that embody hyper horology.

The watch’s 45mm case, made of carbon composite and ceramic, is imposing. Design accents referencing Roger Dubuis’ affinity with supercars and motor racing are lavished on the case and dial. Its red-on-black colourway, dynamic skeletonised case and openworked dial that invites you to gaze upon its exposed mechanical engine combine to deliver a sense of excessive, sportive opulence. But appearances tell only half the story. Once referred to as a brand that epitomises the research and development spirit of Richemont, Roger Dubuis never prioritises style over substance.

The watch is, as its name suggests, a flyback chronograph. Powered by the state-of-the-art RD780 automatic movement, which was developed and made completely in-house, the watch features two patent-pending innovations: a Second Braking System, which improves the stability of the chronograph seconds hand, and the 120-degree Rotating Minute Counter, a satellite display system for the minute indicator.

A signature of the Spider Excalibur timepiece is its extreme skeletonisation, where the case, dial, movement and hands are artfully hollowed to express sports-inspired machismo and dynamism. Photo by Roger Dubuis

Roger Dubuis also pushes the envelope on the watch’s performance. Instead of a regular balance wheel (the pendulum equivalent inside a wristwatch) that is positioned horizontally, the Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is fitted with one that is inclined at 12 degrees to compensate for gravitational errors.

And it’s not just the Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph. All of Roger Dubuis’ watches will overwhelm you with theatrical designs and radical concepts. Expressive aesthetics, exhilarating complications and an experimental spirit—built on the age-old tenets of fine watchmaking—are par for the course; the watches demanding exuberance as much from their creators as they do their owners. And like that kid in class who couldn’t help but challenge the norm, Roger Dubuis, too, doesn’t believe in making its watches any other way.

Roger Dubuis

This story first appeared in the September 2023 issue. Purchase it as a print or digital copy, or consider subscribing to us here