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SIHH 2014: The return of the king – Homage to Roger Dubuis

by Peter Chong on February 5, 2014

Roger Dubuis, the man, began the company in 1995, with a very interesting collection of Symphatie watches. I have written about these remarkable pieces here. Roger himself almost disappeared from the scene for a while, but now under the Richmont banner and a new management under Jean-Marc Pontroué, it has renewed itself, and dedicated to full in-house manufacture. And the king…Roger Dubuis has returned.

This year, Roger Dubuis elected to do an entire series of watches dedicated to the founder…their Homage series to Roger Dubuis.

Homage Tribute to Mr. Roger Dubuis

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Roger Dubuis Homage Tribute to Mr. Roger Dubuis

Made with the RD 540 form shaped movement , curiously encased in a 45mm diameter pink gold round case. I am wondering why use a form movement, which is typically a signature of a form case, in a round case.

Nonetheless, the movement is nicely done. Made of 293 hand-finished components, a full 750 hours of manufacturing, of which 220 are dedicated to meeting the strict demands of the Poinçon de Genève, with Roger Dubuis laying claim to be the only watchmaker to have 100% certification by the Geneva agency. The new movement features the magnificent flying tourbillon with the characteristic 3 armed, stylized cage design, and is limited to 208 pieces, a nod to the fact that 208 was not only a lucky number in Chinese numerology, but also the register number of Mr. Dubuis when he was a student at the Geneva Watchmaking School.

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Roger Dubuis Tribute to Mr. Roger Dubuis Tourbillon dial detail, showing the tourbillon and lacquer dial

The dial is white lacquered, with a pink gold ring on the dial, white lacquered flange, powder minute circle and Roger Dubuis transfers, pink gold appliques. A bold design, and implementation, but one which in my view, works on a watch like this.

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Roger Dubuis Homage Tribute to Mr. Roger Dubuis case back showing the movement.

The movement is nicely laid out, with good finishing. Note the anglages of the bridges are nicely done, with the sharp horn on the bridge on the top. However, the inward angles on the elaborate toubillon bridge is simply finished and rounded rather than a more difficult and, to my eyes, a more beautiful execution with sharp edges.

Homage Chronograph

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Roger Dubuis Homage Chronograph

The new chronograph, shown above in white gold, with the guilloche dial in a rather fetching sun burst pattern and framed by charcoal grey appliques. The movement is the RD680, with 242 parts, 42 jewels is equipped with the traditional column wheel, and is self winding with a micro rotor to provide the movement with 52 hours of power reserve.

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Roger Dubuis Homage chronograph movement side, showing the chronograph works and column wheel in the far end of the photograph.

The movement is reasonably well finished. I particularly liked the long, curved blade spring (visible in the photograph above on top left from about 2 o’clock to about 12) curving around from the bridge where it is attached to the column wheel. The bridge bearing the minutes counters with the stacked wheels can be clearly seen between the balance wheel and the micro rotor. Interesting to note also that the prototype movement says 44 jewels, but the specifications sheet says 42.

Homage Automatic

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Roger Dubuis Homage Automatic with diamonds in pink gold.

Shown above, in a42mm  pink gold case, set with diamonds. Also available without diamonds, and in white gold. The watch features a similarly styled guilloche dial in a sunburst design with appliques. The movement is a self winding RD620 with micro rotor to provide an autonomy of 52 hours.

Homage Double Tourbillon

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Roger Dubuis Homage Double Tourbillon

For me, the pièce de résistance is the more technical and aestetically even more daring double tourbillon. I have photographed this watch for Revolution Magazine as part of a photo spread I did for them in 2011. 

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Double tourbillon case back showing the back plate, with circular graining.

The movement is the rather spectacular RD100 movement, with double flying tourbillons in their characteristic stylized tourbillon cages. When the movement was initially introduced, the tourbillons rotate in different directions, one clockwise, the other counter clockwise. This provided a spectacular visual treat for the viewer. But it was noted that the rate and consistency of the watch is better with both tourbillons spinning in the same direction, and subsequent examples have been made like so.

I also note the same roundeed inward angles on the anglages of the elaborate tourbillon bridge spider, like the one on the RD540, and the similar high level of finishing otherwise.

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Detail showing the double tourbillon. The finishing on the stylized cages are exquisite, and black polished. This finishing technique is very labour intensive and leaves a mirror finish on the top of the cage. Note the blackened portion indicative that the angle of the light reflected is not co-incident to the lens, while other parts are bright as the light reflects directly into the sensor.

The dial is the signature Homage dial with guilloche sunburst with applique as found in other members of the Homage series (with the exception to the Tribute to Mr. Roger Dubuis as that watch has a lacquered dial). Interestingly, the two seconds hand do not totally scynchronize, I am not sure why they should or should not, but just an observation that they don’t. I will be sure to ask the watchmaker and report back here.

Homage Haute Joallarie

The Homage  Velvet Haute Joaillerie in white gold with 304 diamonds, automatic movement.

The Homage Velvet Haute Joaillerie in white gold with 304 diamonds, automatic movement.

I feel this series of Homage watches may signal the return of Mr. Roger Dubuis, who was also seen around the booth, taking photo opportunities with the various press. I hope that he will be more involved in the design and manufacture of the watches that bear his name, as he is one of the true master watchmakers of this generation. What are your views?

 

 

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