ROGER DUBUIS When Time Strolls In The Seductive Garden

Known for its distinct style, Roger Dubuis is never a conformist. The fully fledged Manufacture has made a number of achievements in function and design, such as the double flying tourbillon, four balance wheels, twelve minitaure knights, applying guilloche on the mainplate, just to name a few, to catch any watch aficionados’ eye. This year Roger Dubuis put a spotlight on women’s wrists and is to raise the curtain on an array of the Velvet watches.

We saw many complicated pieces from the brand last year. The Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon is still vividly remembered by its skeletonised movement and dial designed in part spider and part star within a multi-level construction, not to speak of the two intricate pocket watches, namely the Hommage Millesime pocket watch and Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument. The former is equipped with a minute repeater, perpetual calendar and chronograph, while the latter features the brand’s signature four separate balance wheels. 

On the other hand, women’s watches have been the highlighted focus for many brands over the couple of years, some even unveiled entirely new women’s lines. Not to be outdone, at the start of 2016 the Manufacture first presents a couple of fascinating watches from the Velvet family, a collection exclusive for women. With precious touches, delicately refined craftsmanship, along with glamorous designs featuring sensual curves and feminine materials, the timepieces are very tempting options for the ladies. Even a man will envy.

Blossom Velvet

Understated yet elegant, the Velvet watch doesn’t come with complex functions in order to keep its simplicity and sublime beauty. All you can find on the dial are the hours and minute hands, and the Roman numerals that radiate from the centre. Quite a lot glittering full-paved diamonds models are also created for formal or grand occasions; diamonds are set from the dial, bezel, case, lugs to bracelet, all lending a luxurious touch to the pieces. Yet the latest Blossom Velvet is bestowed a totally different facade.

Inspired by the iconic Flower Clock in the centre of Geneva, the Blossom Velvet builds a garden on its dial. With softly curved petals and leaves in different shades of pink (or blue), the graceful floral exterior is no doubt the highlight on the dial. The engraved and sculpted floral motif is skillfully crafted by artisans from thick plate of Grand Feu enamel, thus creating mesmerising luminous effects when the light pours into the depths of the enamel and plays across the dial with every turn of the wrist. The flowers are also framed by dainty leaves interlaces with pink gold (or white gold) stems and tendrils, while the exceptional split-level mother-of-pearl dial provides an elegant backdrop to such a unique decor, showcasing the Manufacture’s impeccable craftsmanship .

Within this stunning setting, 6 diamonds sparkle at the centre of flowers. And the emblematic Velvet tonneau shape in the centre is surrounded by diamonds too. This 36mm opulent piece in white gold or pink gold is admirably thin at 8.77mm and rimmed with two rows of diamonds (154 diamonds, approx.1.19 carats) adorning the bezel and lugs. Did I also mention the automatic movement RD821 is stamped with the Geneve seal? The piece comes with a satin strap in a colour that matches the floral colour and offers two references, each limited to 88 pieces.

Case:pink gold or white gold
Movement:automatic RD821
Functions:hours and minutes
Limitation:88 pieces

Velvet Secret Heart

At first glance you know this is no ordinary watch, from the way the numerals descend on either side of the dial – but in ascending order. Dubbed as Velvet Secret Heart, its ‘secret’ is hidden on the sides of the dial, where a double retrograde date indicator is shown. There are two subtle red retrograde hands. Its move starts from the left and travels down the curve path of time. When the date jump from 15 to 16, the left retrograde hand will jump back to the start of its journey and disappear entirely as the right one will show up and take over. And each hand in turn indicates the date. This is the first ‘small complication’, described by the Manufacture, to enrich the Velvet collection.

Not only does the bi-retrograde indication add a playful twist on the dial, it is also an ideal match for the tonneau shape since it follows the symmetry of the dial. In addition, the slanting Roman numerals and the large upright XII and VI just make for a well balanced dial. And the 36mm diameter aptly provides enough space to ensure the readability of the bi-retrograde indication that is useful in daily life and not merely decorative. Driven by an entirely new automatic movement RD821B, the Velvet Secret Heart is embedded with 46 diamonds (approx.1.15 carats) and fitted with a blue alligator strap to complement its exquisite femininity. This petite beauty bears also the Geneva Seal and is produced in a limited edition of 8 pieces.

Case:white gold
Functions:hours, minutes, double retrograde date
Limitation:8 pieces

Interview with Lionel Favre,
Product Design Director of Roger Dubuis

How The Beauty Blossoms

S:Roger Dubuis | F:Lionel Favre

S: What is the signature of Roger Dubuis?

F: Roger Dubuis is a bold brand, audacious and very exclusive. The spirit of Roger Dubuis is a combination of extravagant design mixed with traditional watchmaking expertise. We are the only brand that currently has the Geneva seal for all timepieces; a guarantee of quality and finishing at the highest level. The mechanics in every timepiece is polished and finished by hand.

S: What is the message Roger Dubuis wants to send to its viewer this year at its SIHH booth?

F: This year, the star of the SIHH booth will be women – with new models of the Velvet collection being introduced. It is time for Roger Dubuis to give greater visibility to this collection which already is a great success! We have the Blossom Velvet with enamel – this is a timepiece I like a lot, because we have designed it in a very specific way.

S: What is the major difference or challenge designing women’s watches, compared to the men’s?

F: The inspiration for women’s timepieces comes from a different source – the Velvet collection was inspired by the jewellery world, the universe of a diva, which is full of glamour! For the men’s timepieces – the Excalibur collection, we try and highlight the beauty of mechanics with inspiration from contemporary architecture.

S: What kind of experience does one get when they buy a Roger Dubuis timepiece?

F: The satisfaction to be different, and to have a freedom of choice. This is the pleasure of owning a rare timepiece manufactured by a master watchmaker.

Excalibur Skeleton Automatic

Lest men would feel a bit neglected, Roger Dubuis also presents this avant-garde timepiece. The Excalibur Skeleton Automatic now appears in a spectacular new interpretation. It gears up with a high-tech composite known as carbon fibre sheet moulding compound (SMC), a lightweight material widely used in the aerospace industry. Twice as light and twice as hard as steel, it is produced by compressing carbon fibres with resin and steel moulded at extremely high temperatures, which is then reworked and compounded with resin. Indeed, carbon is long popular with luxury watch brands like Audemars Piguet, Panerai, Richard Mille and Hublot, and it is now Roger Dubuis’ turn. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first time Roger Dubuis creates a carbon case.

The case’s high-tech material adds some darkness, some robustness and some lightness to the piece, but retains the familiar Excalibur look – a round case with a fluted bezel and triple lugs. The skeletonised dial features the distinctive star bridge over the barrel and allows the wearer to admire the movement parts nicely polished by hand. This latest addition is powered by a micro-rotor at 10 o’clock delivering a power reserve of 60 hours, despite its reduced weight and openworked structure. Last but not least, Roger Dubuis watchmakers also played with the height of the micro-rotor so that the star-shaped motif and the rotor stand on different levels, thus creating fascinating 3D effects.

Movement:automatic RD820SQ
Functions:hours, minutes