Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

According to Dominique Renaud, this new DR01 Twelve First watch is his answer to a call from watch lovers for "something new." While the ambitiously complex new type of watch movement inside of the timepiece is certainly novel, it follows in a long line of experimental mechanical movements enterprising horological minds have been coming up with for literally hundreds of years. I recall recently visiting the Science Museum in London where you can see experimental time keeping devices from over the ages. Will the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First be a unique experiment destined for a museum, or will this new type of movement with its "Experimental Rotary Escapement" prove to be a real revolution?

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

I will do my best to forgive Dominique Renaud's people, as the product launch was almost as complicated and beguiling as the product itself. Despite loads of images, documents, and diagrams, so little of how the watch itself works and is constructed has been made clear. Dominique Renaud does, however, make it clear that each of the 12 pieces of the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First watch will be customized to the whims of each buyer. When asking for 1,000,000 Swiss francs, a little personalization is more or less expected, right? If we've left out important details such as case size and materials, or even what the movement fully does - then direct your complaints to dominiquerenaud.ch... oh wait, the website doesn't even exist yet at the time of writing, even though their e-mail addresses come from the domain. With that said, can we really blame Mr. Renaud, who just emerged from semi-retirement after roughly 15 years? When he left the watch industry, most brands didn't have websites anyway.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Even if many of you aren't familiar with Dominique Renaud, you will be familiar with his work. In 1986, Dominique Renaud and Giulio Papi created the watch movement-making and -designing firm Renaud & Papi. In 1992, Audemars Piguet acquired the majority share in the company, and it was renamed to APRP (Audemars Piguet, Renaud & Papi). Giulio Papi remains the guy in charge, and the legacy he and Dominique Renaud created is truly magical. Not only is APRP where most of Audemars Piguet's most complicated watches are birthed and created, but the company also does work for a number of other brands ranging from small operations such as 4N to exotic movements for big brands like Harry Winston and Chanel.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominuque Renaud's credentials cannot be discounted, and he is among the most intelligent "watchmaker engineers" alive today. The Dominuque Renaud DR01 Twelve First watch is really an exercise in producing an improved "regulation organ," or rather, that part of the watch which is responsible for accurate time indication. Most watches today utilize a traditional balance wheel and escapement system which works rather well and benefits from being relatively flat. The major weakness in today's most popular regulations systems is friction. Sure, gravity is an issue, but friction is the biggest issue. So when you see new types of regulation systems, many of them focus on reducing or removing friction.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

For Renaud, it seems as though a particularly frustrating element of the traditional regulation system was the pinion which the balance wheel oscillates on. This pinion as a concept is essential, but in this new type of Blade Resonator system with its Rotary Escapement, the pinion becomes an "unbreakable spatial pivot." In other words, the pivot as a component doesn't exist, but is rather a plane which part of the blade resonator moves on. You'll need to see the video to understand more.

A component that looks like a shaving razor has three "blades" which are tipped with PAC-MAN-style-cut synthetic ruby spheres. In these cut spaces in the spheres, the blades move back and forth, connected to a cylinder to emulate the oscillating arch of a balance wheel. Compared to traditional balance wheels, you can see how short the amplitude is. Moreover, connected to the blade resonator is an escapement system which emulates the benefits of a detent escapement with its direct impulse system. Only in the last few years have we begun to see traditional detent-style escapements show up in wrist watches. Arguably better for timing results overall, detent escapements are difficult to engineer into wrist watches because they can be so sensitive to movement and shock.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Nevertheless, Dominique Renaud seems to have engineered the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First watch with traditional shock protection systems and that "unbreakable" spatial pivot point. I suppose it is unbreakable since there is no physical pinion, but I still wouldn't want to drop one of these watches. Dominique Renaud speaks highly of the chronometric performance of the new system but fails to elaborate on actual performance or timing results.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

With that said, if the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First movement works well, it should be quite accurate. As mentioned above, the rotary escapement system has a low amplitude of just 30 degrees. This means a decrease in power taken from the mainspring, as well as less room for error. Furthermore, the movement operates at a frequency of 36,000 bph (5Hz). This taken together with the direct impulse escapement system does sound exciting for those who seek out exotic, yet high-performance mechanical watch movements.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Power reserve is said to be around two weeks. However, this 14 days of power reserve is still theoretical, according to Dominique Renaud. The movement uses a single barrel and this power reserve is calculated as a function of the system requirements. It is true that it appears Dominique Renaud himself is wearing a prototype of the watch, but I don't think it is fully functional yet, as indicated by some of the press release language.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

I can say that Dominique Renaud theorizes how his system might be used in other applications. Where the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First movement has drawbacks is in size and shape. The regulation system exists inside of a sapphire crystal cylinder tube, which sits atop another sapphire crystal tube where more of the movement parts are contained. I will suggest that it will be at least another few months if not a year before a presentable prototype is available, and it is unclear when the 12 commercial examples will be available to buyers.

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

In many ways, the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First movement looks like a clock movement made small and for the wrist. I would very much like to see this as a clock for my desk (even if I don't think I'll have a million dollars or more to spend on it). With that said, the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First watch is designed as a wrist watch and it is certainly unique in its appearance. In the short technical animations, you can see how the entire movement system with dial rotates around in the case. If you can pull off the look of the case design on your wrist, then you'll be in for a visual treat (especially if you are a movement lover).

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First Watch Priced At 1,000,000 Swiss Francs Watch Releases

What is really nice is that despite the ups and downs of the economy as well as the luxury watch industry itself, the allure of constant innovation and new designs keeps people like Dominique Renaud not only interested, but coming back for more after their retirement. Many aging watch makers I've known of work until the moment they die - which, for better or worse, is a testament to the allure of watch making and watch creating. As mentioned above, the Dominique Renaud DR01 Twelve First watch will be part of a limited edition of 12 watches with a price of 1,000,000 Swiss francs each.

What do you think?
  • I want it! (1)
  • Thumbs up (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I love it! (0)
  • I_G

    Only 912,000 euros, this is for low ballers not real millionaires.

    • David

      I think design it’s a point of view. It’s more like a traditional piece of art with a modern and futuristic movement! I love this thinking process.. I’m amazed by this uge amont of work and I’m sure this will be a revolutionnary watch. This design is special, “anticonformist” and give us a shock! And fortunately, there are people that dares designs that break the rules.

  • Ryan

    Is it April 1st already?

  • BrJean

    What, no tourbillion here? Canceled my preorder!

  • MEddie90

    With all the focus on price and bombastic design I think its easy to miss the fact that this is pretty interesting horology. That oscillator and escapement arrangement is crazy, i’m guessing there aren’t that many (if any at all) practical advantages (ok so an improved power reserve I guess) but its none the less impressive as a horological curiosity. Its always interesting to see new escapement designs and with Parmaganis offering last SIHH there seems to be alot of experimentation with low amplitude oscillators.

    Also the use of ruby spheres on the escapement and the lack of silicon in the oscillator and escapement is a nice change, its cool to see watchmakers use older generation materials to develop new designs.

    Looking forward to more details.

    • Jeviar Dfirst

      This one is mind-blowing! Hope he released a book about the technical feat in this piece, eventhough I may not able to pull of that look on my wrist

      • MEddie90

        Certainly not a daily wearer, more a work of art and technical wizardry. I love the 3d movement architecture too, a really out of the ordinary piece in all respects.

  • If this was from anyone without Dominique Renaud’s experience and reputation this would seem more pipe dream than good idea. So maybe he is on to something. But I have to wonder if it will really be better than tech such as the Breguet magnetic pivot and the Ulysee Nardin Anchor escapement’s “virtual hinge” which is also a low amplitude device.

    • IanE

      Still, the bragging rights of a $1M watch shouldn’t be ignored!

      • Just ’cause it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s worth anything. Case in point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Rich

        • IanE

          Yes indeed – but if your pal has a 1M Richard Mille, a chap has to show he can too!

        • Shinytoys

          Now I have to delete this from my apps…Jeeze what a buzzkill…

  • IanE

    Interesting tech if it ever works, but that design is, to my eyes, ridiculous (and hideous)!

  • word-merchant

    Unfortunately the lack of the date on this watch means it’s a non-starter for me, which is a shame, as this looks like a good tool watch for wearing around the house.

    • And just like you can use a screwdriver as a chisel, you could use this watch as a hammer.

  • Pierre Savard

    An interesting micro-machine for sure. It is good that they offer customization on these pieces so that I can request a date with a cyclops and a helium escape valve.

  • SuperStrapper

    Another 7-figure cartoon. Even in renders this thing looks a mess.

  • Decades of engineering and design, and he chooses the watch face from a 1967 Bulova and his name written in a font doodled by a 15 year old skateboarder. With some of these pieces, it seems like the watchmaker’s skills are inversely proportional to their design sensibilities.

  • BNABOD

    you lost me at blade resonator and of course the look of the thing is hideous and as Valannin points out the whole name written in the front like a good old Renault 4L is just plain awful

    • David

      I think design it’s a point of view. It’s more like a traditional piece of art with a modern and futuristic movement! I love this thinking process.. This design is special, not modern or new, but looks like nothing and give us a shock! And fortunately, there are people that dares designs that break the rules.

      • BNABOD

        daring and ugly do not have to be mutually inclusive. new and technically advanced is one thing hideous is a another and just calling it art because it is modern “read ugly” then sure go for it. just my opinion btw

        • David

          Yes it’s your point of view and the mine is that this design is traditional and futuristic in the same time and those lines create some tensions in the design shape that are interesting and not much seen in the watchmaking industry. But it’s also my point of view, your vision is not the same as me, some will love this and some will say it’s ugly like you said…

  • frauss

    Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it.

    • wallydog2

      Some watch! Some flagpole!

  • Hydra

    cant get a NATO attached to it….so it a no go for me!

  • iamcalledryan

    Fascinating. I need to learn more about that escapement. Totally agree with Ariel that this is better appreciated as a clock than as a watch!

    • MEddie90

      I was thinking the same, my understanding is that the majority of position error in a regular watch comes from distortion of the balance spring and varying friction at the balance pivot. In this scenario since the balance is near friction-less I would guess that any change in friction due to position would be relativity small, same goes with the spring as it seems to be shorter and stiffer than a balance spring so will be distorted less by gravity.

      I also second the point that this would make more sense as a clock, in-fact when I first saw the image I assumed it was since there was no sense of scale in the rendering. I’d love to see this escapement and balance combined with the JLC Atmos, now that would be a combo.

    • egznyc

      I agree this would be one heck of a clock – but didn’t Ariel say the bigger benefit was less friction?

  • mtnsicl

    This is just a made up joke, right?

  • DanW94

    Interesting, I kind of like the canister look. I’ll take my movement shaken, not stirred….

    • egznyc

      Funny how shaking and stirring are both movements … The “spectre” of another Bond movie …

  • Shinytoys

    It worked for Mazda, this could be the shape of things to come 🙂

  • Theoretical, unproven, no working prototype, renders only, a year away from functionality, crazy pricing… this wouldn’t even fly on Kickstarter. I say scale it up and make a MB&F style table clock out of the idea. The architecture and wristwatch don’t make a lot of sense to me.

  • cg

    Where is the propeller? Meant to float not sink right? There is an evil empire deco feel to it though…

  • Marius

    You simply have to love the Swiss! So, Mr. Renaud has no website, no working prototype, no information regarding accuracy or chronometric performance, but, on the other hand, Mr. Renaud knows that the price will be 1 million francs. Simply superb!

    This is an interesting concept, but unfortunately, Mr. Renaud will have to get in line. Every other Swiss brand has introduced revolutionary and ground-breaking technology. You have the Omega co-axial, the GP constant force, the Parmigiani Senfine, the AP escapement, etc. In fact, even the Hello Kitty watch brand has developed a revolutionary escapement.

    • Richard Baptist

      agreed sounds like a bubble

    • And Hello Kitty seems to be further along with their “Cat Escapement”.

      • iamcalledryan

        You win the image-pun competition for the week, possibly the month.

        (the rat-trap-ant is a close second)

    • iamcalledryan

      New escapements are appearing in greater numbers these days, and although the price-tag seems to be getting well ahead of itself, Mr R can at least attribute his name to the AP escapement and numerous great inventions before it (not sure about the Hello Kitty). he also developed the HYT tech.

      I actually view the price tag more as a direct R&D funding exercise. In other words, the established brand sucks it up and absorbs the cost across tens of units and the eventual mass-production models, whereas this appears to be the highest form of horological kickstarting…

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Weird , i cant make up my mind if i love it or hate it

  • Sevenmack

    On one hand, the unproven escapement looks fascinating. In a well-designed case, it could be awesome. Sure, it will still be less accurate than a Citizen Eco-Drive quartz. But still glorious. Unfortunately, the design M. Renaud proposes looks as messy as that steampunk crap Romain Jerome is actually selling. It may cost $1 million. But it isn’t even worth $150.

  • Nelson

    Extraordinary work by Dominique Renaud. Welcome back.

  • David

    I think design it’s a point of view. It’s more like a traditional piece of art with a modern and futuristic movement! I love it but it’s my point of view. I’m surprised by this watch, this new escapement with new balance wheel, so much novelties here! This design is special, “anticonformist” and give us a shock! And fortunately, there are people that dares designs that break the rules.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    I have a bridge for sale.
    You can see the computer rendering of what it should look like.
    And I have a scale model in my backyard – but you cannot use it as it does not support the weight of any vehicle.
    Also, this bridge doesn’t exist yet; but I’ll sell it to you.

    Trust me. C’mon. Trust me.

    “psst!”…it’s powered by a real life flux capacitor!

    • David

      I read that this economic model is called “souscription”, the same that Breguet used to sell his watches long time ago !

      • Boogur T. Wang

        A.k.a – “shut up and just gimme your money! ”

        A phrase usually heard on dark streets in the bad parts of town.

        • D.thamp

          I think you understand nothing…

          • Boogur T. Wang

            Ayy…too true.
            As a mere earth-bound knuckle dragger I don’t have ther perceptual; abilities of the high-born like yerself m’lord.
            Beggin’ your pardon, the thin air of the parlor makes my head spin in confusion.

            I’ll stay in me place under the stairs, m’lord.

    • DanW94

      You sold me, I’ll take it!! How much? Take my money!

      • Boogur T. Wang

        Don’t think of it as money.

    • Marius

      I have a clock for sale. It’s called Big Ben and it’s made in London. It already exists, but I don’t have the title to it, yet, that’s just a formality. Would you like to swap my clock for your bridge?

      • Boogur T. Wang

        Not interested in the clock, however, I. Do fancy that near-by statue in the square.
        Sam’s pigeons.

  • Pingback: A Radical New Design Makes This Bizarre-Looking Watch A More Accurate Timekeeper | Gizmodo Australia()

  • Bruce Wang

    Heavy Metal Watch….but it must come totally in black edition….

  • Marius

    I agree that Mr. Renaud is one of the best watchmakers in the world, but his plan to finance the production is simply absurd and ridiculous. Mr. Renaud is trying to find 12 collectors/investors who will pay him 1 million francs each. So, if he finds them, with the 12 million he will buy the machinery, equipment, set up his brand and start the production. That’s fine, except that the so-called investors won’t get any shares whatsoever in his brand, they will only get one watch.

    So, practically speaking, Mr. Renaud wants people to finance his brand, but doesn’t want to give almost anything in return. OK, the collectors/investors will receive a watch, but the machinery and equipment bought with their money will be used for many years to come and not only for the production of their watches. Imagine going to Warren Buffett and telling him: “Look Mr. Buffett, I need 12 million francs to start a watch brand, but in exchange for this sum I won’t give you any shares whatsoever; I will give you 5 watches in return.” Do you think anyone will finance such a business plan? I highly doubt it.

  • egznyc

    That is a lot of technology for two hands.

    Seems a bit clumsy in its current iteration. Nonetheless there’s a lot of moving pieces to enjoy here – if it actually works.

  • Joe Black

    The design of the watch itself seems to be heavily inspired by Megatron from Transformers.

  • Ulysses31

    It all seems a bit pointless. How to make a watch in the most convoluted and unaesthetic way possible – seems like something the Swiss are masters of, especially “geniuses” like this.

  • Fay Aniels

    This machine is crazy! Well done to the master watchmaker! Love the design I think there is a lot to come with these innovations. And this movement rotates in a 360° way. I completely understand this type of design with the tube now.

  • Vincent Benedict Garcia

    It looks like the Kicker solobaric L7 subwoofer with the grill. And the his font is similar to the Rockford Fosgate logo. He must be a car audio enthusiast.

  • Vincent Benedict Garcia

    It looks like the Kicker solobaric L7 subwoofer with the grill. And the
    his font is similar to the Rockford Fosgate logo. He must be a car
    audio enthusiast. (see posted pics)