In what I believe is its second year, the Roger Dubuis Hommage collection receives its most impressive piece to date, with the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch, now close to the end of 2014. The original goal of the Hommage collection was to evoke the original designs that Roger Dubuis himself created for his eponymous brand back in the 1990s. Roger Dubuis later became unassociated with his brand, but a few years ago, the Richemont Group-owned Roger Dubuis brand decided to bring him back, and, along with his now “fatherly role” in the company, came the Hommage collection of watches.
The Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic is just that, a vividly complicated mechanical movement that combines a tourbillon with a minute repeater and offers automatic winding. That latter element is quite interesting because the watch features “double micro-rotors.” Wha…? That is right, rather than having a full rotor or one smaller micro-rotor, the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic has two micro-rotors. Why? Well I am not totally sure and Roger Dubuis doesn’t claim any particular utilitarian purpose to this. I think they just designed it that way because Roger Dubuis is a bit avant garde. Let’s just say this isn’t the first time I’ve seen double micro-rotors before… It does look unique to have two smaller rotors spinning on the back of a movement.
My favorite part about the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic is the dial. The movement is beautiful and it offers just enough skeletonization to admire the mechanism, but not so much that you can’t actually read the dial. This is a really nice mixture of ensuring that the timepiece is legible, and also that mechanical nerds, such as myself, are able to view the finely decorated movement. Roger Dubuis even offers a rare fact about the movement, stating that, according them, 328 of the 1,241 hours required to make the movement are dedicated the hand-finishing and polishing.
A lot of that hand-done decoration is part of the new in-house made caliber RD104’s qualifications to bear the Seal of Geneva (Poincon de Geneve). A few years ago, the people behind the Seal of Geneva vastly upped the requirements for movements to bear the Seal. In addition to a movement needing to be produced within the Canton of Geneva and to have certain measures of performance, it needs to contain a lot of hand-finishing. That means most of the individual movement parts must be polished by hand. The RD104 movement contains 434 parts, which helps explain why so many hours are dedicated to finishing alone. The movement also operates at 3Hz and has 60 hours of power reserve. The micro-rotors are rose-gold toned but are actually produced from platinum.
Let’s step back from the horological nerd element for a moment and look at the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic perspective from the casual onlooker. How would a lay person react to this watch? What would they notice first about it? Would it impress them? Consider the simple familiarity of a traditional watch dial flanked by an exotic tease of finely polished mechanical parts. There is some type of spinning element on the dial, and if they were able to handle the watch, they might discover a lever that causes the watch to chime, as they view a ballet of metal working together. The allure of a mechanical watch in this category isn’t really about what it does, but more about the romance of it all working together and the effort implicit in its construction.
The bottom line is that no one actually needs a minute repeater or a tourbillon, as they add zero functional utility to a watch in 2014. Nevertheless, the child-like glee we receive from seeing mechanisms such as this in operation is what keeps up coming back for more and more. This is the logical extension of having a fascination for shiny things. Appreciating the work involved in this Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch goes to basic human attraction for items that require a lot of effort and our desire to want to own those and somehow capture part of their majesty for ourselves. It doesn’t matter what the watch does, when it comes to a piece like this, it simply matters that it required a lot of effort and looks beautiful in the process.
On the wrist, the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch is 45mm wide, available exclusively in 18k pink gold for now. It is possible that future versions will be available in other materials such as 18k white gold, but not to start with. The luxury theme is furthered with the 18k pink gold dial and hands, that meld nicely with the pink gold-tone colored areas of the movement seen through the dial. Large and flamboyant is the modus operandi of today’s Roger Dubuis and something that works for them, given that at their heart they are true traditional Swiss watches. Looked at from any other perspective, and pieces such as this could easily be considered quite obnoxious for their sheer spectacle and excess.
Roger Dubuis will produce just 20 pieces of the limited edition Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch. It is a boldly compelling timepiece for those who want to be loud, luxurious, but also somewhat traditional – and who also desire to invest in what it will cost to get one on their wrist. Price is 380,000 Swiss Francs or $453,500 USD. rogerdubuis.com