For this SIHH 2012, the tendency instilled by Georges Kern the previous year gains momentum. Thus, the corollary of a general tendency that involves the whole industry (especially automotive engines and computer technologies), far beyond watchmaking, is that we are witnessing an overall downsizing. This tendency, inspired by obvious ecological necessities, corresponds also to the comeback of a certain conservatism from the “30 glorious”.
Therefore, the new watches from Roger Dubuis will be a mix between Roger Dubuis phase 1 , with the more-than-classic “Bulletins d’Observatoires”, and the phase 2, that of the exuberant pieces from the euphoric new watchmaking. In the continuance of “La Monegasque”, three new collections are presented at this SIHH.
First, an interesting creation intended for women, the Velvet. It brings some freshness to the universe of women’s watches, with a dedicated design. The versions featuring metallic wristbands are the most comprehensively designed, because the bracelet’s central link is an extension of the built-in “fore links” integrated to the bezel at 6 and 12 o’clock.
This type of neo-classic design, or even iconic, is the kind of work one could almost expect from a corporate company like Cartier.
The watch should reach its declared target. Because it is an exclusive watch, due to its caliber and its finishes, but whose design remains sufficiently mass market, or even emblematic, to please a majority of women, typically as a gift.
The watch is 36mm across; it features a RD821 automatic caliber, 25.5mm by 3.43mm, set at 28,000 v/h with a 48-hour Power-reserve. As some pointed out in the article on “La Monegasque”, a “par epargne” work on the counterweight would have fitted the watch better than the current screen-printing. However, it is only a detail; this movement is an excellent choice for a woman’s watch without complications. Moreover, it benefits from the “Poinçon de Genève”, a standard hallmark at RD. A feature almost unique in this niche. This creation shatters many prejudices regarding women’s watches. Misconceptions that state it is impossible to fit high quality mechanical calibers in such pieces, because of the constrained dimensions as well as lack of interest women have for mechanical beauties.
The Excalibur collection more or less revisits the design of the previous Excalibur from Roger Dubuis, but as I said earlier, in a downsized version, without the central lug.
With 42mm in diameter, the case could appear a little small for a watch with a martial theme.
However, on one’s wrist, its aperture is enormous, and the watch seems to be a 44mm rather than a 42. Exactly the opposite of La Monegasque, which looks like a 42 when it is really a 44.
This paradoxical demonstration by the designers from Roger Dubuis is the proof that a technical chart is nothing without an IRL try.
The automatic Excalibur features the RD620 caliber with micro-rotor, set at 28,800 v/h with a 52-hour Power-reserve. Several versions of dials are still available in stainless steel or in rose gold. For the pictures, I selected the gorgeous lapis lazuli models as well as the mother-of-pearl one.
This utilization of lapis lazuli is uncommon and must produce fabulous contrasts when fitted in the rose gold case.
These kinds of creations could lead the way to other watches featuring an antique style, made of bronze matched with Lapis.
The biggest novelty of this Roger Dubuis SIHH is of course the Pulsion. The Pulsion is the sports watch of Roger Dubuis new collections, 44mm titanium, waterproof up to 100m, one could have hoped for 300m, in order to safely practice all types of nautical sports…
If the waterproofing is limited, it is probably because of a surprising and innovative aesthetical choice: the watch is covered with a large sapphire that must be 43mm across, and fastened by tiny screws.
The non-reflective treatment is excellent and only the black internal bezel produces a slightly blue shimmering, which is superb incidentally, as you can see on the photos. Visually it is rather innovative, seen from sideways as well as from the front. Compared to the Easy Diver, the case got skinnier, but it also became more complex, regarding the dial as well as the design of the middles. As a result, the general look and feel of the watch is quite technical, very cold, bordering on certain Cyberpunk creations from the independent watchmaking.
Regarding the dial, the Cotes de Genève of the Railroad create a convincing contrast with the perlage of the RD680 caliber’s plate. The 12 and 6 numbers, set directly on the plate, strongly enhance the volume effect and emphasize the depth of the hollowed out dial.
If the look of the watch is super modern, the RD680 caliber is super classic, a pure product from the integrated Roger Dubuis factory.
It is already present in the catalog of La Monegasque series; it is a magnificent chronograph movement with micro-rotor, stamped with the “Poincon de Genève”. It is 31mm in diameter and 6.3 in thickness, and is set at 21,600v/h with a 60-hour Power-reserve.
Beyond the obvious quality of its bevelings and its finishes overall, it is a very demonstrative caliber due to its layered architecture. Moreover, this layout gives a lot of consistency to the watch, which is in 3D on its head and tails, a rare feature.
One could be surprised by such Cyberpunk, technological and uncompromising aesthetical choices.
Logically, such a high-end chronograph caliber should be fitted in quite classic cases, like a Nautilus from Patek (although it was a UHO at the time of its launch).
However, considering the RD new lines overall, La Monegasque is already a very « Sports-chic » model.
Hence, creating a watch too classic would have been redundant and not very exclusive.
The creative team from Roger Dubuis chose to go into Sports-Geek (© pifpaf), assuming that the postmodern adventure takes place in Fargo-North Dakota as well as on a yacht in Barbados. The result is a watch that is the synthesis of certain marked trends in watchmaking, from Richard Mille to Hautlence or, of course, Blancpain Carrousel 1 minute.
But this Pulsion Chrono is far more than a well-understood synthesis. First of all it is a realistic watch, in terms of size, price-quality ratio (35k CHF), realistic because of its high quality, but also because it can be worn everyday, or even because it is relatively discrete, so much so it is the antithesis of a certain hackneyed tawdriness.
Some will justifiably continue to regret the « Bulletins d’Observatoire » series, since the CEO and the creative team of Roger Dubuis took a disconcerting parti-pris: that of fitting watches with contemporary designs with calibers featuring a level of finishes worthy of the classic high-end watchmaking (well, the one that is not sullied).
But upon further analysis, the interesting point in this approach is to offer watch lovers and collectors worldwide a less exclusive access to the excellence of Helvetian watchmaking.