Roger Dubuis continues their collaboration with F1 tyre supplier Pirelli to use the rubber from their winning tyres on the straps. Now with the Excalibur Spider as the core of the watch and a new pit stop style quick switch mechanism to quickly interchange the bezel, crown and strap. One watch head, up to 6 different colours for the rest of the system. Hands-on review.
Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli
Retail price is SGD 111,000 inclusive of GST. Price includes the black base colourway. We understand the customer is given one colour kit of the his/her choice. but please confirm with your retailer or boutique. Additional colour kits can be purchased separately. Each colourway kit is limited to 88 sets.
The concept is simple. As Roger Dubuis is positioning themselves as a parallel to the motorsports industry, the strategy with their partnerships with Lamborghini and Pirelli continues. This novelty is not part of the Lamborghini collaboration, but one deeply steeped with Pirelli. But more of that later. For this introduction, we focus on the Pit Stop on motorsports events, particularly F1. A visit to the Pit Stop may take less than 2 seconds, or about so, but the cars can refuel, change 4 tyres during that period.
For the new Excalibur Spider Pirelli, this translates to a system where it is easy, fast and simple to customize the watch. The watch is delivered as a black base kit, but three additional kits in red, white and blue are available. All these colours are iconic Pirelli colour codes for the tyres used in F1. And the watch uses a unique system to rapidly transform from full black to a pop of colour in a click. Each colourway is limited to 88 kits.
The case, dial and hands
The case is based on the rather familiar Excalibur case design, executed in black DLC titanium, and in a case size of 45mm diameter. The iconic 3 lug design of the case remains unchanged, as is the skeletonized horns which form the main side lugs.
The case design has a sculptured look, with detailing on the edges in the form of ridges and lips, subtly reminiscent of racing cars. Though not quite all out F1 type design like the various Richard Milles, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli maintains the sleek, light feel of a fast automobile.
The dial is skeletonized, and as is the movement, which is the caliber used – RD 8 20 SQ, which is RD’s first automatic skeleton. The skeletonizing is rather extensive, and the entire movement is visible through the lattice like frame which remains. As is usual, part of this lattice structure incorporates the famous Roger Dubuis star. The micro-rotor winding system is also visible at 11 o’clock, and the balance wheel is seen at 8 o’clock.
The hands are gold, but with black PVD treatment. The hour and minute hands are skeletonized in the same lattice structure styling as the star, and the rhomboid tips are infilled with SuperLuminova. There is no seconds hands.
The strap is where the collaboration with Pirelli comes to full fruition. All straps are cut from the side walls of tyres used by winning F1 cars. The inside of the straps feature the Pirelli Cinturato Intermediate pattern. As a small attention to detail touch, the additional colour kits are thicker than the base bezel to mirror the look and feel of the distinctive Pirelli tyres.
The colours available are also the colour codes used by Pirelli in racing. In F1, the following colours are specified:
- Wet – orange
- Intermediate – light blue
- Super soft – red
- Soft – yellow
- Medium – white
- Hard – silver
And currently available for the RD Excalibur Spider Pirelli are light blue, red and white. Each colourway kit is limited to 88 pieces. We understand other colours will be available in due time.
The switcheroo system
The quick switch system is ingenious, and very intuitive. The strap attachment and detachment system is a system which we are rather familiar with. A sprung latch system is used to engage and disengage with a single push, and is a system used in various forms by different Richemont brands. Currently, all Richemont brands have a variant of this quick release strap system. We think this system was first seen in 2016 in the release of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, but not fully certain…if you know if there is an earlier use of this system, let us know in the comments.
But the interesting twist (pun intended) on the RD is the interchangeable crown and the bezel. A world premiere. And the system cannot be any simpler. A quarter turn to unlock, and a reverse quarter turn to lock. Simple. And used extensively in the sports industry for example to attach computers to bicycles. The Garmin lock and a new Quad Lock system has been in use for decades, and it is interesting that nobody has thought to use this simple, elegant and near foolproof system for watch bezels. But now they have, and kudos to RD’s ingenuity for making this happen.
In practice, the bezel exchange is effortless and easy to do. Simple. Elegant. Quick. Satisfying to use. And as importantly, provides a secure lock. The crown works on a similar system, but a bit more fussy to execute, requiring a push and a twist to free the crown, and a reverse process to engage a new crown.
The movement: RD 8 20 SQ
The movement used in the Spider Pirelli is the RD 8 20 SQ, a skeleton calibre with a star-shaped bridge used in a number (currently 20 models) of Roger Dubuis watches. The movement is highly skeletonized, and features the star bridge which is now an icon of the brand. The movement beats at 28,800 bph and has a 50 hour power reserve, and wound by a micro rotor, and is certified with the Poinçon de Genève.
In the Excalibur Spider Pirelli, the movement is visible from the front and back of the watch. The case back features the Pirelli logo on a dark sapphire glass.
Movement finishing is adequate, and ticks all the right boxes, meeting the Geneva Seal requirements. The main plate and bridges feature perlage with NAC coating. As a watch of sporty origins, the movement finishing is perhaps not up to par with the top level haute horlogerie levels, but we judge it to be sufficiently well executed to earn a tick.
The competitive landscape
The landscape of a time only watch, with motorsport inspired origins are fairly wide. From the top levels, in terms of pricing, we have the various Richard Mille watches. At the entry level, we find models which mostly feature chronographs, such as the Bell & Ross BR V3-94 R.S.19, Tag Heuer and perhaps even Zenith El Primeros which are able to offer rivals.
However, the RD, being priced at a rather high SGD 111k, is perhaps more comparable to the RMs. At least prospective customers who have the budget will perhaps also be considering the Richard Milles. We leave you to speculate on that.
Overall, this is a handsome watch. It wears well. Very well indeed. On the wrist, the 45mm feels much smaller, perhaps thanks to the curved lugs and clever shaping of the case. The colour accents are quite charming, and is able to transform the watch with each quick change.
The highish price is perhaps a deterrent, but we think not a big enough barrier to those who love the idea of the racing machine on the wrist.