back to top

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument Pocket Watch Watch Releases

It is very unusual to look at a piece of such undeniable quality as the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument and find a number of more critical points sooner than anything else – but I guess this example is one that I will remember as proof that first impressions can be misleading… With the release of the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument, this Geneva-based manufacture has actually stepped up their game. At SIHH 2013, Roger Dubuis released the Quatuor (hands-on here), a watch with a weird name and a weirder (and amazing) movement: and so, in the past, it may have been arguable to suggest that Roger Dubuis was a hair more concerned with the aesthetic than the technical, but with such a halo-piece, the manufacture has proven beyond doubt that technical whimsies are very much a source of interest.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument Pocket Watch Watch Releases

And why am I so sure? Because four balance wheels is just excessive in a way that is rare to see even from some of the most ambitious of high-end Swiss watch brands. It’s not uncommon to find horological experts who dismiss the tourbillon’s true ability to eliminate gravitational error but still regard it as an interesting and worthwhile addition to a calibre. It may well be nothing more than a technical exercise, but would it be unfair to say watchmaking in a wider context is anything more than that? Labouring under that assumption, Roger Dubuis has produced a pocket watch calibre with four separate balance wheels, based on the movement inside the Quatuor. Four. Together, these balance wheels and the rest of the 590 components that constitute this watch do their utmost to minimise the effects of movement, gravity, molecular inconsistency.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument Pocket Watch Watch Releases

I would never criticise endeavour for endeavour’s sake. I would never scoff at the manual achievements of the Roger Dubuis watchmakers. But I did wonder if this iteration of the war on gravity is as cool as it thinks it is. I wondered thus because I thought it was crass on first look. I thought it may have extolled a “bigger is better,” or “more is merrier” attitude – just keep throwing balance wheels at gravity and it will stop being a nuisance. But then, I remembered what watchmaking is trying to prove, and it changed my mind. It’s not about how good something actually is; it’s all about how much we can do in the face of the impossible. It’s about effort and ingenuity, about style and functionality in harmony, about the impossible made possible.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument Pocket Watch Watch Releases

That’s (partly) why people buy luxury watches, and that’s why the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument is worthwhile. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument has a 60mm wide titanium case and chain with a water resistance of 30 meters (so if you were thinking of slipping this limited edition timepiece into the pocket of your knitted bathing suit, don’t). There will be 28 pieces produced, and each will feature 590 components and a staggering 113 jewels. The movement has an operating frequency of 28,800vph, a thickness of 10.6mm, and a power reserve of 40 hours. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument has earned the Poinҫon de Genève (Geneva Seal – a mark of quality that primarily ensures the quality of hand finishing, and more recently, also the timekeeping performance), which is emblazoned at six o’clock.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pocket Watch Time Instrument Pocket Watch Watch Releases

Interestingly, the hour markers are represented by a very strange, somewhat curtailed font at twelve, three, six, and nine o’clock. The numbers are depicted in Roman Numerals, but chopped-off at the waist, meaning the 12 and nine are particularly obscure. The cut-off point means they are indistinguishable from the “V” that represents “five” in every way but their angle. I’m not a huge fan of the style, but it does lend a bit of symmetry to the dial-edging, which is tasteful in its shape and frames the focus of the movement – the four independent balance wheels – nicely. You may baulk at the price tag of $468,500, but does it really matter? It’s not something most of us could own, but it is an item of beauty and arguably even more so of technical excellence. It is an example of horological art because of the laudable folly undertaken by its creators. Is it bizarre? Yes. Is it brilliant? I think so.




Disqus Debug thread_id: 4154775838

  • egznyc

    Yes, a bit strange, but modern in overall style – which means I should’ve said “and” rather than “but.” But do I like it? Not really. I respect it and find it intriguing. Is it excessive (beyond its price)? Would one balance wheel/escapement combination have done? But that is not the point: this is clearly going for extreme exclusivity and in that it succeeds.

  • iamcalledryan

    The RD style is very suited to a pocket watch, the size and geometry of their movements often feel constrained within even a large diameter wristwatch. I love multi-escapement and differential movements, and this one is a great example. My only negative thought is the mirror image power reserve. Why do manufacturers replicate it on the underside so you end up with two identical readings for no additional reason!

  • SuperStrapper

    Half a million dollars and no tourbillon?!??!??!??

    I appreciate how it is immediately recognizable as RD. I can’t image how or why I would ever want to carry a pocket watch (unless I ok to also wear a wrist watch) but if money were no object and I wanted a pocket watch, no brand has yet to surpass the coolness that is URWERK’s offering in this segment.

    • iamcalledryan

      Although there are more waistcoats around today than in recent years (I wear one about 3 times a week) it’s still pretty niche. The price point of these types of offerings, and the elaborate stands suggest a desk-application moreso than a daily wear. I would absolutely love to have somehting like this (or better yet, as you mention, the Urwerk) dangling on my desk, but would need to completely upgrade and redesign the entire house to suit it adequately!

      As for the tourb – I would say that four angled balance wheels beat one tourb!!

      • SuperStrapper

        My tourbillon comment was very tongue-in-cheek, I sure you understand!

        The desk-clock dual use I think that is a very wise approach, but still doesn’t make sense for me, because I have an Atmos that I use as a desk clock, and good luck usurping that!

        • iamcalledryan

          Good call. The Atmos vs pocket watch on stand debate can only be settled by installing a fireplace with mantel!

  • Antjay

    Mmmmmmmmmm… molecular inconsistency………

  • resonator resonator

    I respect it, but it’s a little like cheating to just swap the case out and call this something new.

  • Larry Holmack

    To me, this is just another example of: just because you can build it doesn’t mean you should. How long is it really going to take them to sell all 28 of those half a million pocket watches?

    I would rather purchase a late 1800’s, 18k gold, pocket watch for under $10 grand…and have something really nice looking. But…to each his/her own.

    • egznyc

      I have to agree – an old gold pocket watch would certainly have a more interesting history behind it and, frankly, be more beautiful to my eyes. Some of the decoration done on such watches was outstanding, too. I probably wouldn’t find an occasion to wear it but I’d enjoy pulling it out of the drawer and holding it, staring at a thing of beauty.

  • Skeletor

    Nothing says gimmicky with 4 tourbillons. Seriously, the swiss are getting lazy and running out of ideas.

    • iamcalledryan

      It’s no gimmick. The differential averages out the four rates, which gives rise to far greater chance of lasting isochronism vs a single balance and escapement.

      • Skeletor

        Bullshit bullshit, if it’s about accuracy how come they not boasting the accuracy in this blog ad? Where are the numbers?

        • iamcalledryan

          Take a breath bro, you’ll notice no one submits the numbers. Geneva seal is a small hint of accuracy, my above statement is theoretical as I have not been able to submit it to rate tests. Is it more accurate than a single balance wheel? In theory it absolutely is. Do not forget that this will be permanently in vertical position.

          • Skeletor

            I’m starting to hate swiss makers. It has become nothing but lazy marketing on watches that add nothing in the evolution of watches.

            Rather than focusing on improving accuracy, making watches thinner and lighter. They create these bloated no purpose watches which is so obvious that they adding gimmicks just for eye candy.

            Only Rolex new Daydate movement had the balls to give us accuracy benchmark, but even then 50k for a watch when Seiko giving you equal or better accuracy for fraction of cost. I can’t wait to get rid of my Rolex and get my grand seiko.

          • iamcalledryan

            That’s up to you sir. The COSC rating is a good benchmark, but I understand your frustration at not getting absolute objective numbers. The truth is that mechanicals were utterly destroyed in the field of accuracy since the invention of Quartz. So today it is not a legitimate ground for innovation. If you have the chronometer rating you know the watch is highly accurate for the layman. The difference between a Chronometer and Quartz is negligible to the user but huge in terms of fractions of seconds per day/month.

            If you are inspired by evolution in mechanical watches it’s time to broaden your own criteria. Check out the materials being used, the levels of finishing, the sheer man hours required to assemble a 700 part movement. The shock resistance, the alternative escapements. And don’t forget that records were broken even this year on lightness and thinness. There is an abundance of innovation, and it’s just the kind of innovation you might expect from an industry thriving in its own obsolescence.

            My advice, hold on to your Rolex and ADD the GS to your collection, they are both awesome.

          • Skeletor

            COSC is just marketing, I don’t find my Rolex to be accurate. Quartz didn’t kill mechanical watches, if they did, mechanicals wouldn’t be 100x more expensive. If all these swiss companies keep pushing expensive mechanicals it means the demand for mechanicals is higher than quartz. And let’s not forget Seiko’s Spring Drive technology that harmonized the best of both worlds for fraction of the cost of conventional swiss made mechanical.

            The swiss have become lazy and no longer innovating. Piling on complications while making their watches thicker and heavier than a hockey puck doesn’t make you innovative. All these designs are being made on a computer, so nobody is sweating on those complications. Eventually all the parts will be made by 3D printers and all that the watchmaker is doing is assembling/testing watches. While their production costs are going down, they have the audacity to increase the prices each year. This is exactly like all those idiot chefs who just pile on expensive ingredients on a hamburger and call it innovation.

            I say fuck em, and I am voting with my wallet, no more swiss until they get off their high horse and make something worthwhile, until then will stick with Japanese watches. Their craftsmanship is just as good if not better than swiss without premium cost of branding. It seems only fitting since I also drive exclusively Japanese cars. And after looking at Volkswagen scandal, I feel much prouder to drive an Acura/Lexus. Even in products, the approach taken between West and Eastern cultures is quite evident.

          • iamcalledryan

            COSC certification has marketing benefits, yes, but you are pasting over all of the very objective, independent, rigorous tests that they very much do go through. To call it just marketing is to call the Olympics 100metres just some guys running.

            Your Rolex should be accurate, but it is also dependent on good care and servicing. If you have done those things Rolex will make it accurate for you – at their cost if you are within warranty. How inaccurate is it exactly?

            i am not saying Quartz killed mechanicals – i am saying it wipes the floor with them in terms of accuracy, ergo the grail of mechanicals is not absolute accuracy. You are measuring innovation with one eye closed.

            Feel free to make this a Japan vs Swiss war for your buck – I like both.

          • Skeletor

            Again the best quartz is from Seiko (9F), the most accurate pure mechanical is from Seiko (Hi-beat) , the most accurate hybrid is from Seiko (Spring Drive / Kinetic Drive).

            COSC certification is only for Swiss made watches, and if this isn’t about marketing how come they booted Seiko from Swiss competitions cause they killed them in their own little enclosed game.

            Sorry but Swiss just basking in the glory of their past by regurgitating the same old pig with a new lipstick every year. With eventual rise of more efficient battery smartwatches and asian threat of quality but affordable watches, they have cornered themselves in a niche market of pure luxury on historical brand names. Only matter of time that market gets saturated with so many tourbillon watches that their value is no longer appreciated.

          • iamcalledryan

            Seiko high beat is very accurate but I am interested to know how you are so certain that it is more accurate than the Breguet 10hz for example, which has twice the pace of vibration, or an el Primero, which runs at the same rate.

            And I am not arguing that COSC is not protective for the Swiss, and that it does not have marketing clout. It is both of those things, but it also an independent mark of assurance that a chronometer meets certain base levels of excellence. You are countering the Swiss position with several absolute statements about the “best” and the “most accurate” – where is your objective data to back that up?

          • Skeletor

            I take the official stance by the respective companies.

            COSC certification is 4/6 sec a day while Hi-Beat is 3/5 secs a day. And Seiko is known to be more strict on their benchmarks and some have found them more accurate than what is officially stated while when it comes to the Swiss it means they usually exaggerate their precision barely keep on the minimum limits.

            Breguet 10hz is 10X the price of Seiko Hi-Beat. Hilarious price difference for unmeasurable discrepancy in precision. Just imagine if Seiko made a 40K watch, what it would look like, now that would be an interesting proposition.

          • iamcalledryan

            Ok, but you need to understand that there are MANY models that achieve accuracy in excess of the COSC threshold. Take a look at the Rolex Green Seal for example. It sounds to me like that’s important for you to know outright, and I agree that at lest a higher bar with the hi-beat should give you that comfort.

            And don’t kid yourself that the price differential on a breguet is down to oscillations – go to a boutique and they will give you a loupe – the answers are all there.

            Seiko do make $40k watches – they are called Credor.

          • iamcalledryan

            I should add that there is one very obvious reason why a company would choose to go down the COSC route instead of publicize their rates. To make a statement about rates opens you up to the liability of that rate failing in the hands of a user. This would likely lead to the company taking the burden of vast costs that are likely to be down to poor care as much as objective rate deviations. No business in their right mind makes assertions that they do not have to. I take my hat off to Seiko for theirs, but it should not be confused with victory over all.

          • Skeletor

            Yes it should be considered a victory for Seiko. It makes Seiko liable and responsible for their watches. This makes them more respectable and gives you a peace of mind that Seiko will do their utmost to keep their watches at a higher standard than Swiss COSC with comments like “It’s completely normal for swiss mechanical to do 15+/- a day”.

            I am not going to bash Breguet since it’s my favorite swiss brand, a pioneer in the early days of watchmaking and probably best collection of designs. But to say that a brand new swiss watch is ok to be worth as much as a luxury sedan is ridiculous. Unless it’s made with most expensive materials of the world, I just don’t buy the hype. All you doing is paying for a large profit margin and swiss labor.

            While Seiko uses samurai techniques to polish their watches to incredible detail and shine, they have the best titanium watches in the market with special coatings stronger and lighter than a Rolex SS.

            For me the craftsmanship, technology, materials more important than brand. I don’t care who makes it, just deliver me a watch worthy of its price. This principle goes with any product on the market. Seiko is successful with very little marketing, because as consumers start to become knowledgeable in domain of watchmaking, they start to appreciate what Seiko has done for the market.

            Like the saying goes, “Buy a rolex to impress others, buy a Seiko to impress yourself.”

          • iamcalledryan

            We are converging Skeletor!

            Regarding the sedan comparison, just because there is more materials involved in the manufacture of a luxury sedan does not mean it should be more expensive than a watch. The main cost-driving factor is machinery, R&D, and labour – net materials are far less of an influencer, therefore it is quite reasonable to expect the pricing to be similar – arguably it is the marketing of luxury sedans that have won because you are using them as a benchmark!

            I totally agree with you on craftmanship, tech, and materials. It is great that Seiko use techniques that have worked for centuries on swords, and the spring drive technology is a marvel. But take a close look at the finishing on the tourbillon bridge of a Greubel Forsey, the GP constant force escapement, the beveling on a Philippe Dufour, the technical execution of an FP Journe, read the behind-the-sceens write-ups of journalist who have been to the Rolex manufacturing facilities where truly cutting edge processes are in full effect, go beyond the Swiss border and inspect the engraved bridge of a Lange or a GO. These are unrivaled, and cost has nothing to do with it. Take Seiko’s Credor – they are getting so very close to the pinnacle but they have a bit more to learn about the presentation of a movement within a watch without a dial.

            Viewing watches with a Japan vs Swiss filter, or dismissing manufacturers that choose to submit their movements to COSC rather than legally commit to a -3/+5 rate and there is a world of wonder that you are shutting yourself away from!

          • Skeletor

            But a few comments ago you said I should appreciate the marvel of this monstrosity because it had 700 parts yet you say assembling many parts shouldn’t be gauged on value. So I would have to agree. My reference to cars was a mere example how ridiculous it would be to take out a mortgage to buy a watch instead of a car.

            Cost has everything to do with it. Most of these swiss watches are like looking at celebrity magazines. Just like I have no chance in dating a hot celeb, chances of me buying or even affording a watch beyond a few K is just dream. So I’m not missing anything because swiss have overpriced their watches out of the market.

          • iamcalledryan

            The assembly of 700 parts has a lot to do with it – it’s the overall weight/size of the parts that is not important. In other words, the man hours and expertise to assemble a 700 part movement is a very notable additional cost in comparison to a simpler movement. It’s why getting the gold version of a watch is more about exclusivity than actual cost value of parts – as demonstrated by steel model Pateks being more expensive than their gold counterparts at times.

            “the Swiss have overpriced their watches out of the market” – I think you are referring to high-end watches, not the Swiss. Yes you may never own an FP Journe, but neither will you own a Rolls Royce. But that is not down to the country, it’s down to the segment. Do not forget that the Swiss also make the Sistem51, they make the ETA movements that go into scores of mechanical watches at a $2k price point. There are plenty of very high quality Swiss watches available for just a few K – always have been, always will be.

            You would be forgiven for reading blog sites and concluding that watches are skyrocketing in price, but it’s because blogs have more to say about 4 balance spring differential movements than they do about yet another case surrounding a 7750 or 2824. And that’s what most readers come for – the eye popping materials, tech, finishing, sheer craziness – not for a “these are the watches that you need to buy and if you can’t you should be ashamed”.

          • Skeletor

            Sistem51 is garbage. For 150$ I can get an Orient Star (Seiko) that will blow the sistem51 out of the water. Let’s face it, low, mid and high end market, Seiko is beyond the competition in craftsmanship, technology, materials when you consider cost. The idea that I can own a 4k Seiko watch that matches a 100k swiss watch in reliability, accuracy and beauty is an incredible feat.

            And you’re wrong, weight and size matter. It is harder to add complications in small form factor and it is even harder to have a very thin watch that is also shock absorbent and has decent water resistance. For me these are great feats and this is what watchmaking should be about, not stuffing complications in purposeless watch like a Thanksgiving Turkey dinner and call it innovation. For example, Subs are heavy beasts, so for me each generation should be lighter and can withstand even lower depths. That’s what the goal should be, not oh we added a new dial, 100k plz. A dress watch should be focusing on thinnest possible watch while retaining complications. A chronometer should be focusing on accuracy. And if you can get all 3 in one watch for an affordable price, than you made a godly watch and usually those are called Seiko 😛

          • iamcalledryan

            You misunderstand me.

            Sistem51 has no Japanese comparison – it is totally unique. There are better low-cost Swiss movements that compare perfectly well to a Japanese movement, but that was not my point. I mention sistem51 as a counter to your argument that the Swiss industry is “pricing themselves out of the market” NOT as an example of anything else.

            And the size argument was to rebut your comparison to a luxury sedan, nothing more. I already mentioned that when it comes to thinness and lightness there have already been records broken this year alone – largely in Switzerland. If you truly believe that making thin versatile watches ” is what watchmaking should be about” then you are totally off on your comments about the Swiss.

          • Skeletor

            Sistem51 has no comparison because Japanese would never make that junk. Sistem51 is too expensive for what it is. A machine printed mechanical movement with no water resistance and poor accuracy. My point was that how can machine printed watch be more expensive than Orient Star very decent quality and more accurate variety of watches that are assembled by a human.

            Once again swiss greed priced themselves out of the market. Seriously who are they targeting when they made this silly prototype?

            For kids? Too expensive.
            Young adults? Smartwatches priced at similar range.
            Young professionals? They can get a nice Orient Star Bambino or sub for same price.
            Adults? Won’t even touch it.
            Sportsgear? Has no water resistance and breaks easily.

            This watch should have had real water resistance, very strong lume and should have been priced around 50$. Would have sold like hotcakes.

            You know Seiko spent more than 20 years researching their Spring Drive movement with several prototypes. If it was Swiss who invented it, I guarantee you they would have launched it on the first prototype gouge money from clients thereafter with several new generation prototypes each year to keep the money flowing. They could care less if very first few generations were unreliable.

            On top of it, Sistem51 mother is Swatch company which is mega conglomerate owned by a lebanese arab. And trust me on this, these people do not care for giving customer value. It’s how much money we can siphon while treating the consumer like an idiot.

            Moreover, in the 80s there was a a research paper on nuclear capabilities of Japan in which they concluded that Japan has the technical know-how and materials to produce 30 nuclear bombs in less than a month if needed. Just because Japan hasn’t started in 3D printed movements, doesn’t mean they can’t. When and if they do, you know and I know they will do so when it has been perfected and cheaper than anything out today,

          • iamcalledryan

            Wow – accuracy and price is one thing, now you attempt to discredit (the now deceased) Hayek on the basis of his ethnic origin? You are trolling now, or worse, you are ignorant – chastising the Swiss on a shifting set of notions, while forgiving your favorite brands – who are also owned by conglomerates and have an equally honed target on profitability. That polarized view of the world is all yours, I am sure the Swiss will not miss your custom.

          • Skeletor

            Why did he buy Swatch cause he loves watches? No he bought it cause he saw an opportunity to make lots of money turning many respectable brands into brand prostitution with non stop pumping of old designs and selling them like new. And guess who almost killed off the swiss makers during quartz crisis? That’s right Seiko. Killed them then and will kill them now with help of smartwatches. Only matter of time battery/rechargeable technology improves and dumb swiss are at again like beggars on the street. Too late for their own funeral.

          • iamcalledryan

            LOL – you crack me up. You need to read into the history a little deeper. For those of us that have, the formation of the Swatch group, and the risk taken by them, literally saved the Swiss industry (which comprised ASUAG and SSIH) from being sold to Japan. Why? Yes the quartz crisis nearly killed the Swiss, and yes it was down to the brilliance of the Japanese. But make no mistake if it were not for that Lebanese gentleman the industry would have imploaded – and that, for most watch lovers, would have been a great shame.

            It is bizarre that you relish the downfall of one industry, and assume that a shift of monopoly to the Japanese will be what watch lovers want and need.

            I agree that too many people underestimate Seiko, but when people such as yourself overcompensate for that by blindly attacking the entire Swiss industry, it does nothing for your cause – you come across as bigoted rather than credible.

          • Skeletor

            You say saved, I say derailed. I would have been happier under Japanese domination. No it wouldn’t have imploded since many foreign companies would have taken control, if allowed. There wouldn’t be a monopoly, there are many companies other than Seiko that makes watches.

            So are you saying Swatch which now controls almost entire swiss watch market is any better now? That’s a monopoly in itself.

            Evident by the Swiss not pushing any envelopes for a long time, they still spamming tourbillons to justify their ridiculous prices even though tourbillons were never meant to be a showcase. It’s all show now, there is no leap forward.They still relying on 200 year old gimmick. If this is what you called saved, I want no part of it.

            Seiko keeps pushing the envelope in every possible aspect of watchmaking no matter if they are dominant in a region or not. What do have to say for that? Hmmm…. nothing!

            Spring Drive, Kinetic Drive, Hi-Beat, 9F double quartz, Titanium, auto-quartz…

            What have Swiss done past 50 years? Nothing!!! Oh wait, Sistem51, plastic made 3d printed animal dung.

            Swiss must…

          • iamcalledryan

            I think you have done a good job of summing up your position and the extent of your knowledge. Good luck.

          • Skeletor

            Don’t add the British and Germans, I only criticised the Swiss, mostly Swatch really. And you mentioned Sistem51 and failed to impress me, so I am wondering what other technological marvel you speak of and why isn’t it on my wrist? Do I need $5m+ to have their technology? 😉

            I don’t really care for irrelevant minor upgrades on each generation, what matters me what benchmark have the swiss broken in the last 50 years? Not much, unless you going to count adding complications on a fat pocket watch modelled by computer software as one 😉

            There are no leap forward for the masses, 10m dollar watches made for billionaires isn’t going to cut it for the mass market. The very least Rolex is trying to regain lost ground in accuracy with their latest movement on the daydate. What have the rest done? Oh wait, 32432523523454th tourbillon watch!

      • Skeletor

        Bla bla bla…. dude trust me if it added to accuracy they wouldn’t shut up to show you the numbers, they are not because it’s all marketing lie.

    • No tourbillons here. The idea is that the 4 angled escapements will do the gravity averaging job of a tourbillon. Plus it looks cool as hell.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This isn’t a gimmick, i’ll agree its been build because they could and set out to impress and have achieved something beautiful in this peace.

  • spiceballs

    For me, RD really does think about the totality of his designs, so I appreciate the “sprocket & chain” look combined with an amazing “wheels within wheels” movement.