Pierre DeRoche is one of those interesting indy luxury watch brands you could go your whole life without noticing, but you’d be missing out on some interesting stuff. You might have heard of them if you are like me, so you’ll be happy to check out my review of their fascinating SplitRock watch. A unique name for sure, there is nothing “rocky” about it. Though I will say that all of the brand’s collections do have geologic style names. Aside from the SplitRock, there is the GrandCliff, and the Shiny Pebbles. The SplitRock comes in many flavors, I actually discussed one of its “artier” forms here when talking about the SplitRock Dare watch. In the ‘standard’ collection there are at least five different styles – including one with orange numerals and a diamond decorated version.
Right here you have the Pierre DeRoche SplitRock Big Numbers. Why? Cause it has big numbers. Around the dial are four large applied numerals in large, 1mm tall metal. To say that they pop is an understatement. There is another version of the same watch where instead of these numbers being applied, they are lume covered. On this watch, the only lume covered parts are the hands – both for the time and the chronograph. The dial itself is round and easy to read. While the watch face is a large rectangle, the places where you need to read information are more traditional looking and not confusing – though small given the dimensions of the watch. This is an art watch that isn’t hard to read, rather than an experiment in clarity. And as an art watch, it looks pretty cool.
Everything starts with the unique looking rectangular case. Here in steel with a polished finish all over expect for the brushed metal bezel. Size is 46mm tall, and 31.6mm wide. It is also 13.7mm thick. For a rectangular watch, that isn’t too shabby. The large size is nice for me, especially as I find many of these watches too narrow. Plus, the flared lug structures help with the watch feeling larger. If steel isn’t for you, there is rose gold version available.
The dial is backed with a textured black surface and areas of blushed silver for the dials with black index markers. There is an applied plate on the top and bottom of the dial with the name of the brand and “Chronograph Concentrique.” This latter phrase refers to the interesting style of chronograph that the watch has. Basically you have three concentric dials inside of one another. The dial has three ring and three hands. The larger, thin red hand is for the seconds, and then there is a smaller minute hand for the chronograph minutes, and under that is an even smaller hand for the chronograph hours (you can’t see that hand until the minute hand moves). This clever system allows Pierre DeRoche to insert a fully functional 12 hour chronograph into one dial. There is also a subsidiary seconds dial for the time above, overlaying the time dial. I also like how the date window was elegantly placed in as part of the watch dial, with a little bulge. Overall, the SplitRock dial is quite unique in design and quite three dimensional, but takes into consideration rules of symmetry and traditional design ensuring it looks attractive. Not for everyone, but it isn’t unattractive by all accords.
The entire case is curved a bit, which includes the front and rear sapphire crystals. Despite the curve, the front sapphire crystal has a nice amount of AR coating to reduce glare and make it easy to read. It is also water resistant to 30 meters. To match the brushed bezel on the face of the watch, the rear of the watch also has a brushed bezel on the rear exhibition window. The lugs on the case are pretty great. They are movable so that one end connects to the case, and the other to the black crocodile strap. This allows the larger sized case to fit better on most wrists.
I quite like the strap actually. the crocodile leather is tapered a bit and it is on a nice fold over butterfly clasp. The deployment is well polished and closes comfortably around the wrist. The clasp is signed with an engraved Pierre DeRoche name and logo.
Pierre DeRoche uses an exclusive for Pierre DeRoche movement in the SplitRock watch, which is the Swiss made Dubois Depraz PDP 4001-1 automatic. It uses a micro-rotor so that you can appreciate more of the decorated movement. Lots of large blued steel screws and cotes de Geneve polish, as well as some perlage on the movement. You’ll also get a friendly “Vallee de Joux” regional reminder of where the watch is made. The micro-rotor seems to work well in practice, though I think it would have looked good in gold (which might have added some weight to it that also would have helped). The appearance of the movement is rather grand, and it is a good selling point of the watch to see it when you turn over the SplitRock.
Who wears a watch like this? Well the avant garde type with a penchant for the classic things in life. This is retro weird. An uncommon testament to things softly different with a traditional look to them. There are a lot of art deco elements to the design, as well as an architectural slant to the design. As you can see, the watch makes a bold statement on the wrist, even more so than looking at it alone. Anyone from a seasoned banker to a classic car buff can sport a watch like this with ease. The design to me is mature, suitable for people wanting to look their age nicely. In my opinion, the Pierre DeRoche GrandCliff is a better “youthful” watch. So for the many, many sport watches out there, I am glad to see a contrasting watch with a less serious nod to the stately lifestyle as is the case with the SplitRock. Price is about 12,500 Swiss Francs. If you want one, you’ll have to contact Pierre DeRoche directly as there are no official US distributors for the brand at this time.