While a far cry from its founder’s vision for haute horlogerie, Roger Dubuis is a brand that never shies away from innovation, even if it means scaring off a few people. For Watches and Wonders 2023, Roger Dubuis has gone right ahead and rethought not just the chronograph, but how a watch is even wound. Pitching it as the next step in “Hyper Horology,” the all-new Roger Dubuis Monovortex Split-Seconds Chronograph is packed with an entirely new winding system, a 360-degree tourbillon, and a retrograde chronograph display, housed in an avant-garde case made from ultralight materials—if your pockets are deep enough, this seems like the watch of the future. Also, it looks like it was made for Iron Man.

Starting with the simplest aspect possible, let’s talk about the case. While measuring carpal tunnel-inducing 47mm, it’s made from Mineral Composite Fibre, made from 99.5% silica and 2.5 times lighter than ceramic and more than 10% lighter than carbon. The case is accented with pink gold (for the crowns, pushers, crown guard, and fixed bezel), carbon, and grey and black-coated titanium, capped with a sapphire crystal. The form is dramatic and futuristic, like all the brands’ watches: the signature triple lugs descend like talons from the head of the watch, flowing into the fitted leather and rubber perforated strap. The main crown is at 2 o’clock, while pushers appear to be located opposite each other at 4 and 10 o’clock—their exact functions, and whether the crown may include its own pusher, is unclear. Also unclear is the water resistance—though honestly, who cares?—but most of the brand’s pieces are 50m, so that’s probably a safe bet here.

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There are some things that are, in fact, rather normal about the watch. It has an hour hand and a minute hand, lumed and in pink gold; and two chronograph hands, primary and rattrapante. It also has pink gold hour markers that double as a minutes scale. You start getting a feeling that things are different when you see the floating tachymeter scale, a translucent ring around the dial with numbers in red, including “88.” That’s highlighted because 8 was founder Roger Dubuis’ lucky number, and the current brand, having diverged so aggressively from its founder’s vision, has sought to establish some link back to him, however tenuous. Beyond those elements, things get crazy.

Starting at 12 o’clock, you’ll see a red barrel-like structure and undoubtedly wonder what that is. This is an automatic watch, and if you look for a rotor of any kind on the movement side, you’ll be searching for a while. The Monovortex employs a first-of-its-kind “Turborotor Cylindrical Oscillating Weight,” which uses gravity to spin upon its axis and wind the watch. This is showboating, but it’s very cool showboating. Moving to 3 o’clock we have what appears to be some numbered display. Dubbed the Rotating Minute Counter, this 120-degree arc displays the chronograph minutes. The 0-3-6-9 on the edge of the dial are fixed and represent the ones place, while the 0-1-2 closer to the pink gold indicate the tens place and have small pointers as they trace the arc. As pictured above, zero minutes have elapsed. This approach does have the limitation of only being able to track 30-minute intervals, though many run-of-the-mill chronos have the same constraint.

At 6 o’clock is the power reserve. It is so deceptively simple that I spent time staring at it in the photo, expecting something incredibly complicated and thinking that the color on the power scale changed as the mainspring barrel beneath it unwound. But it turns out it’s simply a scale on sapphire, hovering over the mainspring barrel. When the barrel is fully wound, its edge aligns with the rightmost bar on the scale; when it’s out of juice, it extends to the left. You’re welcome.

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Finally, at 9 o’clock, we have the Conical Monovortex™ Tourbillon. Unlike traditional or even two-axis tourbillons, this one spins 360 degrees, essentially eliminating the effects of gravity as it never rests on a single plane, even if the wearer isn’t going anywhere. It features a 60-second rotation and I’m sure is fun to watch. In fact, with all the fancy gizmos to look at, I imagine one would find oneself looking at the watch less often to tell time than to marvel at everything else it does.

The derring-do of the watch itself may make you think that the movement would be more industrial in its execution, but rolling the watch over, it’s clear that’s not the case. The all-new RD114 Caliber features the same finishing you might expect from F.P. Journe or Greubel Forsey (and with prices to match), though parts of the architecture make it more modern, including the block pink-gold bridges, black curved geartrain bridges, and its blend of brushed and matte components. Aside from what we decipher from photos, details are sparse, but the automatic winding mechanism and 360-degree tourbillon should keep things humming along nicely, while the chronograph mechanism uses a double-column-wheel system.

This is the Kool-Aid Man of watches. It bursts through the wall, shouts “OH YEAH!” and doesn’t apologize. In keeping with the brand’s commitment to pushing boundaries, the Monovortex Split-Seconds Chronograph rethinks many horological devices that we take for granted. Whether those needed rethinking or not isn’t the point; the point is that rethinking them pushes them, and horology as a whole, a bit further ahead. Roger Dubuis was unable to provide pricing at the time of publishing, though its watches start at $41,000 and go up to $815,000, and I’d expect this particular one to be at the upper end. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

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