A set of stringent quality checks guides the making of every Roger Dubuis timepiece
Roger Dubuis was founded in 1995, but it observes a century-old watchmaking tradition. The brand’s founding partners are the eponymous watchmaker and, until 2008, Carlos Dias, a watch designer with an extravagant imagination. They dreamed of making modern timepieces, while adhering to traditional standards. Consequently, all Roger Dubuis timepieces are hallmarked with the Poincon de Geneve, a seal of excellence that was established in 1886.
The Poincon de Geneve, also known as the Geneva Seal, is a hallmark of quality devised to protect local watchmakers. Historically a centre of jewellery making, the city shifted its focus to watchmaking due to the rise of Calvinism and its prohibition of flashy accessories. However, Geneva’s watchmakers had a penchant for manufacturing pricier timepieces, making them targets for copycats.
In response, the Geneva Seal was created to ensure that watches made in Geneva met certain quality standards. The original criteria were primarily in terms of movement decoration, but in 2012 standards were revised to include evaluations for functionality. Only about 0.1 per cent of the watches made in Switzerland every year qualify for the seal.
The demands of the seal are a key element of Roger Dubuis’ watchmaking. Every watch that leaves its Geneva manufacture bears the shield-shaped Poincon de Geneve hallmark on the movement. Though the seal embodies the ideals of traditional watchmaking, Roger Dubuis watches are distinctively modern in form.
A case in point is the Excalibur, Roger Dubuis’ flagship timepiece. It is characterised by a polished, notched bezel and triple case lugs, details that give it a distinctive presence despite its conventional round shape. It was conceived as a 47mm timepiece, but the collection now includes a 42mm size as well as a 36mm case for the ladies.
The tourbillon is the brand’s signature complication. All its tourbillons are equipped with a carriage in the form of a Celtic cross, making them immediately recognisable. Often, Roger Dubuis pairs its tourbillons with skeletonisation. Again, its skeleton watches have strong defining characteristics, featuring clean, geometric lines and a barrel bridge open-worked in the form of a star.
Until this year, the star-shaped barrel bridge was found only in skeleton tourbillon watches. The only exception is the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton, Roger Dubuis’ first skeleton watch without a tourbillon, featuring just hour and minute functions. Conveying the same striking aesthetic as the skeleton tourbillons with the emblematic star-shaped barrel bridge, it made its debut in January at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
Introduced alongside it was the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon, featuring the most elaborately conceived case yet found on a Roger Dubuis watch. Still furnished with the key elements of the Excalibur, namely the notched bezel and three-pronged strap attachment, the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon brings skeletonisation into the watch case. Its titanium case is open-worked, cut down to the lowest volume required for structural integrity. For a dash of colour, inserts of red anodised aluminium are used for the bezel, crown and case flanks. Even the hour and minute hands, as well as the minute chapter ring, have been open-worked and accented in red.
Equipped with a similarly skeletonised case is the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon, which comes with a gem-set bezel. A world-first, the metal bezel has a rubber coating over it. Geneva-based gem-setting specialist Pascal Vincent Vaucher took two years to develop a method to set diamonds into the rubber coating.
Roger Dubuis is the first watchmaker to utilise this technique with 60 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel.