Dubey & Schaldenbrand Grand Dome Watch Hands-On

Dubey & Schaldenbrand Grand Dome Watch Hands-On

Swiss watch brand Dubey & Schaldenbrand is back after a slight hiatus and some internal reorganization. Their US distribution is also brand new. The newly livened Dubey & Schalden-brand (get it?) features three new models including this pretty Grand Dome collection. Set in a tonneau style case, this is the result of a lot of internal work in-house.

While some brands stress the production of their own movements, it is sort of the reverse at Dubey & Schaldenbrand right now. At Dubey, they make their own cases, dials and hands. While they produce some modules and decorate and finish movements - right now they mostly use base ETA movements. The production of their cases and dials is really a plus for them and collectors. This means that they have a lot of control and flexibility in their designs and parts - which benefits everyone.

The Grand Dome models come in steel or gold (or two-tone) cases. Size is 37mm wide by 52mm tall. I wouldn't call it large, but it isn't a small watch either. On the wrist, tonneau-shaped watches look interesting, but it is a look that you need to try on your wrist to get a feel for. The case is all polished and feels good to the touch. Quality is there and the design is classic and attractive in my opinion.

Dial designs are quite interesting. You can see that the layout of the 7751 has been reduced to make the display symmetrical. There are a few different dial displays - and each is both three dimensional and attractive. One version has a more retro dial that will appeal to some people as well. By the way, the watch is technically called the Grand Dome DT. Not sure what that DT stands for. Hmm. Most of the dials really excite me. They are really well done and I like the finishing, detailing, and the hands.

The simple act of removing the subsidiary seconds dial mixed with the synchronized 24 hour hand on the left really cleans up the dial a lot. You are still left with more or less all the functions that you need. If you want to measure the seconds you can just use the chronograph. The 7751 functions that remain are the 12 hour chronograph, time, moon phase indicator, and annual calendar. What I also like is how Dubey shrank the peripheral date ring. The 7751 uses a large hand to indicate the date around the periphery of the dial. Frankly I am not a fan of this the majority of the time. Here, the Grand Dome uses a shorter hand and smaller ring to display the date in a much more attractive manner. Textures and colors are great overall.

According to Dubey & Schaldenbrand, the movement finishing and decoration is done in-house. As you can see, on one limited edition model of the Grand Dome there is a lot of hand engraving and decor on the automatic rotor as well as on a movement bridge. It looks quite nice. This is another one of those instances where a brand is able to take something common like a 7750/7751 base and make it look really nice using a lot of their own in-house talent and effort. It goes without saying that the movements are visible through a rear-mounted sapphire caseback window.

What I said to Dubey & Schaldenbrand is that the Grand Dome watches have a distinct look but also feel acceptably traditional. That means they look unique but are also not outside the range of "I can visualize myself wearing that because it is a look I am familiar with". There is a lot of cool stuff coming from the brand - and even a new tourbillon for 2012. The brand wants to offer nice stuff at a mid to higher-range luxury price point. Even the Grand Dome models come in versions with diamonds (also ladies pieces). Prices start at $11,300, jump up to about $15,000, then up to around $30,000, and then top out at $75,850.


    I think I’ll pass on these overpriced blunders.  Even on the ones modified it only looks like they modified the rotor and kept the same unmodified base movement (the fifth picture down looks like an out of the box movement).  I am not sure how this adds anything or justifies the significant increase in cost.  Then again this is a brand notorious for being ridiculously overpriced.  Unlike the watches of Dornblueth & Sohn, which actually have hand engravings and a modified movement at a reasonable price, this is just another case of smoke and mirrors with absurd prices even by D & S’s own standards.

    • nateb123

       @KSW III The lack of finishing on the movement is pretty damning.  But the parts of the movement that are hand engraved are no doubt as costly as finishing the entire movement like Dornblueth & Sohn would.  I’d say trying to give people such intricate engraving instead of a great overall level of finishing was a serious mistake by the company.
      I think you underestimate how pricey the dial, hands, case, etc. are to make though.  People seem to think watches should cost what a movement costs + 5 bucks unless it’s in-house made.  Yet no one seems to believe in a similar release from sane pricing when everything BUT the movement is done in house.  And I’m pretty impressed by each and everything Dubey & Schaldenbrand did in how.  So yes it’s a bit of a let down.  However the brand shows a ton of promise.  If they do apply their skills to finish the movement, ease off on the engraving to save costs (unless someone specifically wants to upgrade) and keeps up such a beautiful aesthetic, I’d be very interested.
      In the meantime though, I want one of those Dornblueth watches.  Those movements are very 1920s.  Right up my alley.

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