Tag Archives: Roger Dubuis

Roger Dubuis CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué discusses the Future for the makers of Excalibur



Roger Dubuis – Lamborghini Squadra Corse – Partnership Reveal Sant’Agata 2017

When we first met Jean-Marc Pontroué early 2012, he was a man full of vitality and a mane of black hair. Over the years, the energy levels of the  indefatigable Chief Executive has remained while his crowning glory earned its Clooney-esque salt and pepper stripes. Appointed to the top position at Roger Dubuis, Pontroue inherited a retinue of challenges which he has since, in true Arthurian fashion, surmounted and slain. Jewel in crown, there’s no greater victory than a milestone, history changing event – a noble marriage like those of old.

Sensing the need to create an easily understood icon without the baggage of lengthy explanations, Pontroue’s strategy of deep partnership between Lamborghini and Roger Dubuis elevates the commitment beyond mere arranged marriage but instead heralds a new dawn for the realm while keeping familiar trappings of lineage and legacy.


Behold New Avalon: Roger Dubuis CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué discusses the Future for the makers of Excalibur

If you need to write two pages on why the partnership works, you should forget it. It’s like getting married, if you need to explain why you’re in love with a lady, you should forget it. – Pontroue on why Roger Dubuis worked with Lamborghinii

Why did Roger Dubuis choose Beijing to launch?

It is important to choose countries where the brand has depth and significance; we were working with FFF, a  Chinese racing team for Lamborghini and we decided to use the underground parking space of SKP, the leading departmental store in Beijing to do a cool party. The beauty is to find venues which aren’t the usual areas, we hate restaurants and hotels, Roger Dubuis is positioned to be unpredictable. It also follows our huge launch event in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Emilia-Romagna where we had cleared the machines to place tables, so that over 100 people could dine on the factory floor with the supercars.

There’s a clear direction towards motorsports for the brand, how did this become an important angle for Roger Dubuis?

It has been a strategy of envy. We were doing dinners with customers where they revealed to us that their favourite cars were Lamborghinis. This revelation was coming up repeatedly, so we decided to have a meeting with the carmaker to see what we could do together. At the time, we weren’t aiming for a partnership, we have never had one so far. First, we learnt about the FFF, one of the leading Chinese teams in the Super Trofeo championship and we partnered with them in 2016, our foot in the door of motorsports. Second, we partnered with Pirelli and finally, Lamborghini. These are the three key ingredients to build a genuine motorsport collaboration: specific editions of Lamborghini for inspiration on specific calibres and models, Pirelli for the straps on certain models and finally, an authentic culture of racing, backed by racing professionals.

Roger Dubuis – Lamborghini Squadra Corse – Partnership Reveal Sant’Agata 2017

Have you met Lamborghini enthusiasts who are not yet owners of Roger Dubuis watches and do you see any specific characteristics in them?

We have done 15 events with Lamborghini in places like US, Japan, Switzerland, UK and France and we found that the Lamborghini owner is the same kind of animal. The profile is mainly male, young and people who want to live an exceptional life. For them, a car is not about going from point A to B. If they want to tell time, they’re going to go with something cool like a Roger Dubuis. They have a heart and mind for something special and unique and not informed by advertising like the “most-seen” brands; Roger Dubuis is not a mainstream watch and Lamborghini is not a mainstream car.

We are two small brands in two corporate giants, Lamborghini in Volkswagen and Roger Dubuis in Richemont, we are very agile, very creative and extreme forward thinking, without barriers of history. There are no rules. We create things which do not exist in the industry. We don’t care about the price, we just want to know that it hasn’t been done before. We are not in a price competitive environment. For us, the prime directive is creating something which doesn’t exist in cars and watches. The typology of our two audiences are very close together – a love for crazy products and lots of personalisation and to meet others with similar drive and passion.

When you’re a young brand, one year of development counts as a lot of history. When you’re 300 years old, what’s one year? Roger Dubuis always wanted to breed a new generation of watchmakers, he didn’t want to create yet another classic high-end brand, the market is saturated; the successful brands today are high end and disruptive. – Pontroue on shaping Roger Dubuis’ strategy and message

Roger Dubuis himself was known for his Sympathie Bi-retrograde calendar and now we see many watchmakers tying up with carmakers to do collaborations, so for the people who don’t understand what the brand is about, there might be a sensation that there’s too much emphasis on design, do you feel that this distracts from the efforts and the advances that the brand is making?

Roger created the brand with two principles: first, to create crazy movements within crazy designs. When Richemont acquired the brand, we worked on redeveloping the brand and improving the efficiency of the movements. Now, we believe its time to re-inject more creativity into our events and products. I believe it’s still the same brand that Roger Dubuis has created, and while he focused on movements and case shapes, we have added materials to the equation. When you’re a young brand, one year of development counts as a lot of history. When you’re 300 years old, what’s one year? Roger Dubuis always wanted to breed a new generation of watchmakers, he didn’t want to create yet another classic high-end brand, the market is saturated; the successful brands today are high end and disruptive. Lamborghini is globally selling out 3-4 years in advance, we are in the same business, Geneva (manufacture) cannot produce 10,000 pieces tomorrow. We produce 4,000 annually, this makes us exclusive.

Before deciding to collaborate with Lamborghini, did you go and study the other failed partnerships, like the one with Ferrari? Did you learn something from their mistakes?

In the realm of corporate partnerships, there are more failure than successes. We studied many across industries and learnt that a partnership only makes sense if you don’t have to explain it. If you need to write two pages on why the partnership works, you should forget it. It’s like getting married, if you need to explain why you’re in love with a lady, you should forget it. The same principle applies – it’s a love story.

First, customer experience – we wanted to give Roger Dubuis customers added value by giving them something unusual. For the Lamborghini customers, what could we give them beyond the thrill of a new car? A watch launch is pretty much like any other watch launch but if you add the supercar touch, it brings a different perspective. For Lamborghini, a new complication intimately associated with supercar architecture brings something new to the equation.

Second, we also didn’t want to have a branded product. The watches are not branded Lamborghini, what the other failed collaborations have done is taken an existing product and merely dressed them with a logo and then write two pages to justify the partnership. For Roger Dubuis, we have no identifiable brand markings other than the innovations we have on the Aventador edition specific to the collection, you will not find this movement in any other Roger Dubuis product – if you want this calibre, you will only find it on the Aventador S edition. The innovations found on the Huracan edition launched at SIHH 2018, will only be found in that line. It’s creating the ultimate customer experience and the combination of creative applications from the same materials used in motorsport engineering to inspire concept and creation of our watches.

A great partnership is something you don’t have to explain. I have met customers worldwide who tell me it all makes sense, even without knowing our brand before. There are over 700 watch brands in Switzerland and only two to three  brands by typology, architecture and price-point which fit the level of Lamborghini.

Can you tell us more about how the original idea for the watch came about and what is the appeal to a Lamborghini driver?

When we first started the discussion, we had approached Lamborghini engineers to see what the roots, ingredients and specifications are for the Lamborghini. The sound was obviously difficult to inject in a watch and so we turned to what are the principles and values of a Lamborghini. We found the engine bars, the structural supports, the inclined balance wheels like a V12, the materials from Sant’Agata, all combine to show a unique blend of materials which define its roots in supercar manufacture rather than something like planes or yachting. We will work deeper in the future with the Lamborghini team to see how we can create future calibres with even deeper association with all things Lamborghini. Even today, we have access to all the new Lamborghini products planned for the next 5 years so we will be planning our collections much in the same line. Having access to all this information allows us to prepare our assortment for the future.

Surely not all your brand strategies will be on motor-inspired watches?

The partnership business will represent less than 50% of the brands’ assortment but the communication will be 100% on the partnership because these touches create impact in the minds of people. We want to communicate research and development, avant garde calibres which communicate specific values for our brand and Lamborghini – that said, these values can be found across the brand.

From a Lamborghini standpoint, what is the brief in designing a Roger Dubuis timepiece?

First, it should be spectacular and leverage on all the assets of Roger Dubuis, like the design codes of the Excalibur. This range is the leading collection for the brand and for the next three years, will be the focus and icon for the family. Second, the movement has to be spectacular, it’s not just the mechanism to tell time but it has to be part of the design, the movement is the added value of the product, it has no dial. Most of our products today have no dial. Finally, it has to be special by limited edition and through the use of exclusive  materials. Ultimately, each new watch has to be a world premiere.

Does this mean a departure from the Swords and Sorcery type of story telling associated with the Excalibur?

Excalibur is by far our number one family. It is not so much as an end to the fantasy element but instead, it will be one better defined by motorsports. You can expect 100 new products in the Excalibur line encompassing women’s, high end, high jewellery and motorsport editions.

With the passing of Mr Dubuis, is there consideration of having heritage re-issues to celebrate his legacy?

We don’t intend to have a limited edition associated with Roger, but we have many customers asking us for this type of product and we are currently studying how we can develop something for the market. That said, no definite plans for the next SIHH.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Jean-Marc Pontroué has assumed the position CEO of Panerai effective April 2018

Roger Dubuis x Lamborghini Squadra Corse: Excalibur Aventador S Limited Edition

The Lamborghini Roger Dubuis Aventador S bearing the Lamborghini “Giallo Orion” yellow colourways comes in 88 limited editions

The Lamborghini Roger Dubuis Aventador S bearing the Lamborghini “Giallo Orion” yellow colourways comes in 88 limited editions

Between the cross-junctions of engineering and precision timing, motorsports (well, literally all competitions which involve speed) and watchmaking have long held a synergistic relationship; thus the collaboration between Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini Squadra Corse and the birth of the new 88 (+8) piece limited edition of the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S is no mere happenstance.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Limited Edition: Developed with Lamborghini

Super exclusive 8 piece orange-liveried Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Limited Edition

Super exclusive 8 piece orange-liveried Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Limited Edition

Stemming from a shared focus on aesthetics in their respective R&D driven approaches, Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini Squadra Corse Excalibur Aventador S combines the respective design skills of Manufacture Roger Dubuis and the legendary Centro Stile R&D department of Lamborghini into a limited edition Excalibur watch which combines high horology with high material technology including multi-layered carbon and C-SMC carbon, same technology as that used for
Lamborghini super cars.

“Like Lamborghini, we deliver ‘engines’ distinguished by their extreme quality and cutting edge performance. But like the owners of such exceptional Italian hypercars, our customers are above all interested in standout aesthetics that ensure instant recognition matched by ultra exclusivity and rarity. Combining our in-house talents to deliver exceptional timepieces and unique experiential value naturally implies shifting into high gear, our favourite mode of operation.” – Roger Dubuis CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué

In terms of styling, the challenge in creating a sophisticated, sporty aesthetic fell to Roger Dubuis engineers and designers to jointly create a power control display in the middle of the watch face and calibre, much like the central signature of your regular (if such a pedestrian term was appropriate) super sports car.

Excalibur Aventador S Wristshot

The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S is indeed driven by an outstanding ‘engine’ in the shape of the specially developed Duotor calibre – this Lamborghini-exclusive Roger Dubuis movement embodies an ongoing evolution of the Maison’s expertise and budding relationship with super automobile manufacturer; tying the relational aesthetics of the Limited Edition Excalibur Aventador S with the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo beginning with the signature engine strut bars by revisiting the architecture of the iconic Roger Dubuis Astral Skeleton and incorporating the exposed “engine module” but essentially the power reserve indicator of the RD103SQ calibre with Skeleton double sprung balances in homage to the V10 5.2 litre naturally aspirated 620 hp of the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO.

In terms of functionality, the new Excalibur Aventador S is no mere three hand time-only timepiece. The latest Aventador S comes with not just the eye-catching power reserve indicator but also a nifty “jumping seconds” or dead seconds complication which served as a progenitor for chronographs in terms of “to-the-second” timing precision.

RD103 duotor calibre lamborghini

Recalling the performance-enhancing longitudinal placement of Lamborghini engines tailored to the design of the sleek, streamlined cars, the double balance wheel is inclined at a similar angle, supported and highlighted by holders shaped like triangular wheel suspension assemblies.

The mew Excalibur Aventador S is available in two limited edition interpretations epitomising the “Dare to be rare” concept: An 88 piece collection bearing the Lamborghini “Giallo Orion” yellow colourways while a remaining, super exclusive 8 piece orange-liveried Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S Limited Edition Price & Specs

Case 45mm Skeletonized Excalibur multi-layers carbon with titanium container overmolded with rubber, water resistant to 50m
Dial Skeleton dial with rhodium plated, black and yellow or orange flange, rhodium plated indexes filled with white luminous Superluminova
Movement RD103SQ Caliber: Skeleton double sprung balances
Strap Bi material strap with black rubber base and black rubber-tech inlay and matching stitching
Price For the 88 piece Aventador S EX613 with yellow accents US$185,000, and the 8 piece Aventador S EX624 with orange accents is priced US$205,000


Roger Dubuis ventures where no other watchmaker has gone with the Excalibur Spider Carbon, introducing not only a case (and lugs) but also movement mainplate, bridges and tourbillon upper cage all in multi-layered carbon

Roger Dubuis watches, SIHH 2017: The limited-edition Excalibur Spider Carbon features multi-layered carbon

Roger Dubuis ventures where no other watchmaker has gone with the Excalibur Spider Carbon, introducing not only a case (and lugs) but also movement mainplate, bridges and tourbillon upper cage all in multi-layered carbon

Roger Dubuis ventures where no other watchmaker has gone with the Excalibur Spider Carbon, introducing not only a case (and lugs) but also movement mainplate, bridges and tourbillon upper cage all in multi-layered carbon

Disruptive materials and progressive complications is the new mantra for Roger Dubuis this year, although one could argue that the firm has always had this twin vision. Of course, boldness and extravagance continue to be the brand’s signatures in its challenge to “Dare to be Rare”, set by CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.

On the rarity front, Roger Dubuis revealed the Excalibur Spider Full Carbon and the Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt earlier this year. As is already known, Excalibur is the iconic Roger Dubuis collection, on which Pontroué wants to focus even more strongly. The Excalibur Spider Carbon in particular made waves on its debut with its daring use of carbon for the case and the movement a world’s first, in fact. Not for nothing, this will also be the first such watch to earn the Poinçon de Genève certification, marking a significant step forward for the official standard of Geneva watchmaking.

So, what’s the big deal here? Well, Roger Dubuis has dared to venture where no other watchmaker has gone, introducing not only a case (and lugs) but also movement mainplate, bridges and tourbillon upper cage all in multi-layered carbon. It is this multi-layered part that caused some consternation for the Geneva Seal, which does not allow composite materials. As the watchmakers at Roger Dubuis point out though, all the layers are T700 carbon, so the material is not a composite per se. Fans of the brand will know that it has experimented extensively with carbon for both aesthetic reasons and for improved durability and strength so news that it will have the first carbon movement to be awarded the Geneva Seal will perhaps seem a little pedestrian. In itself, that is a testament to the capabilities of the Geneva-based manufacture.

In Calibre RD509SQ, the use of multi-layered carbon has allowed it to share the same horizontal lines decorating the case, but more importantly, also shaves some 30 per cent from the weight of the tourbillon upper cage. In turn, this lightweight approach reportedly improves the movement’s power reserve by 10 per cent. Performance concerns also informed the use of titanium here, with the case back and crown in black DLC titanium. There is also a visible (if one looks hard at the piece) inner black DLC titanium case. Roger Dubuis states that titanium was used in these parts to assure that the watch is water resistant to 50 metres, which implies that the usual gaskets that keep things watertight are also present in the watch, as they are in all water-resistant wristwatches.

Back to the movement, the honeycomb section in black PVD and is decorative, while the flying tourbillon is the normal one-minute variety. The 10-degree angled layers applied to the calibre plate and bridges are an example of dedicating technical expertise to aesthetics. The main purpose of this step is to reproduce the same motifs on the movement as those appearing on the case middle. The watch is limited to just 28 pieces worldwide.


Movement Manual-winding Calibre RD509SQ
Power Reserve 70-hour
Case 45-millimetre carbon
Water Resistance Up to 50 metres
Strap Black rubber with red Rubber-Tech fabric-like inlay and red stitching, and double-folding clasp
Price Unavailable

This article was originally published in WOW.

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of luxury watch brand Roger Dubuis

Excalibur Spider Skeleton Automatic

Excalibur Spider Skeleton Automatic

For CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué, Roger Dubuis doesn’t just make watches that are unique. For this to be wholly consistent, honest, and spontaneous, the very principles upon which the company operate have to be somewhat different from the norm in the industry. As such, Roger Dubuis the manufacture is on several counts at least as interesting as the timepieces it creates.

Under Richemont, it is part of a large luxury conglomerate, yet it maintains the nimbleness and entrepreneurial zest more typical of small companies, while possessing the professionalism and polish that the former grants.

As a young company without much watchmaking history, it cannot do the “we were also there” boasts that older companies often make with regards to milestones in history. Instead, it throws itself wholeheartedly to the future. Yet, its creations sparkle with respect for traditional craft consider for example that all its watches bear the Geneva Seal.

When it comes to creating in-house calibres, Roger Dubuis is among the most prolific, amassing a range of manufacture movements within the span of its short history to turn established companies a shade of pink. How does the company accomplish this? For Pontroué, it begins with how creativity and teamwork is instilled in a space that has “no room for ego”.

Roger Dubuis CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.

Roger Dubuis CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.

What is Roger Dubuis’s approach to watchmaking?

Everything we do is through the filter of what already exists. As a result, many watches we encounter these days are things you’ve seen before or bear much resemblance to things that have already been made. That’s normal. But it is also the worst thing for Roger Dubuis! We don’t follow the market; we don’t care if the trend is for cheaper watches, flatter watches, bigger watches, or what sort of material is now fashionable in the watch world. We do things our own way, we have a mission: to provide an alternative to traditional high-end wristwatches.

Watchmaking is steeped in tradition; do you believe there to be much appetite for something unremittingly modern?

I meet a lot of young people, and young for me is 25 to 55, because I’m 53. These young people say: “I don’t want to wear a watch that looks like it belongs to my father. I don’t drive his car, I don’t wear his shoes, I don’t wear his pair of glasses. Why would I want to wear his watch?” These young people make their own decisions, they are keen to go for something new. And this is a phenomenon I see very strongly in Singapore.

Roger Dubuis defines itself with watches that reject convention. Is this quality also reflected in the way the company is run?

We are a brand with only around 400 people: in our industry, that is not a big number. When people in a company are not united, the company suffers, and this is especially true in a small company like ours. So at Roger Dubuis, ego has no place. How does this work? For example, in many brands, only the CEO is allowed to give interviews, because nobody should say something different. At Roger Dubuis, we have around five executives authorised to give interviews. I believe that as long as we align ourselves properly, we will be able to tell the same story but from different perspectives. As a result, you will always come away with the same impression of Roger Dubuis regardless of whom you interview.

Roger Dubuis manufacture in Geneva.

Roger Dubuis manufacture in Geneva.

What is it like working at Roger Dubuis?

Ego is important at a personal level, and all creative people have an ego. But as a company, ego has no place at Roger Dubuis. For example, the technical director developed the Quatuor three years ago. This was a technical idea in the beginning. But an engine alone doesn’t make a car. We need the design team to design the other parts that make up the watch, the marketing team to explain the watch, and the distribution team to get it out to market. Somebody started an initial idea, but the product is the shared project of everyone in the company. No one “owns” an idea because we all worked together to make it a reality. And we want to avoid the wastefulness of fighting internally; we are fighting our competitors and the market.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as CEO?

The biggest challenge in my work is in hiring the right people. In terms of markets, Singapore has greater potential than Cambodia. You don’t have to be very strategic to know that. America is greater than Singapore, and China is greater than France. In Singapore, to open a store in Orchard Road is better than someplace else 10 streets away. We know all this. We have access to a lot of data and information from being part of a large group that has been in the luxury business for a long time. What remains for me to do is to hire the right people who can take what we know technically, and have it implemented in a smart, service-oriented way that wins over customers. That attention towards service is not something you learn from books, it is in your character. That is why I don’t hire a lot of people from the luxury industry. I prefer to hire more from the hospitality industry learning how a tourbillon works takes you two hours. Empathy the sense of connecting to your customer beyond a transactional level is an altogether different thing. If you don’t have it in your heart, if you don’t have a service-oriented character, you don’t have what it takes to work in a boutique.

Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon

Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon

Give us your reading of the current market and what strategy do you have in response?

I see there is growing instability and uncertainty. For me, winning is a relative thing; it is not about setting ambitious targets, but rather about running slightly faster, doing slightly better than others. If we are down 10 per cent while others are down 20 per cent, that’s OK. I’m more concerned if we are up 10 per cent, but others are up 20 or 30 per cent. In this regard, I see a lot of opportunity for Roger Dubuis. Because we are small brand in a very big group and this is a powerful cocktail, in that we can call upon the support of a big group with all that data, market intelligence, etc., while remaining very creative, nimble and entrepreneurial like a small company.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Double Balance Wheel

Why Two Balance Springs are Better than One

Just like the human body, a mechanical movement has a core anatomy. Typically, it includes a mainspring coiled within a barrel and a going train that consists of four gearing wheels, the escapement, and the balance wheel. Science has proven that larger brains equate to higher intelligence, so it stands to reason that having two brains is very likely better than just one.

It is the same for mechanical watches. When done well, having two balance wheels (or more) yields higher timekeeping accuracy and additional barrels understandably give more power. A set of gongs that encircle the movement twice, also known as cathedral gongs, produces chimes with greater resonance, color, and richness as opposed to traditional gongs that go round the movement only once. And two tourbillons are always better than one.

Audemars Piguet

For the first time, Audemars Piguet makes a Royal Oak equipped with two sets of balance wheels and hairsprings geared to one going train.

In their continual quest to build better watches, watchmakers have not only toyed with the concept that having additional critical components would improve performance, but they have also boldly acted on it, producing some of the most exciting mechanical movements in modern watchmaking history.

Fine BalanceAudemars Piguet

Oscillator is to watch what pendulum is to clock. A staggering majority of mechanical movements, whether made today or historically, have been designed with a single oscillator placed at the end of the gear train. The oscillator generally consists of balance wheel and balance spring, and its job is to convert the linear flow of power coming from the mainspring into oscillations, hence the back and forth motion. With each oscillation, it dispenses power to the escape wheel in pulses and this is how a watch advances each second.

Unlike a clock, which sits immobile on a mantelpiece or mounted on the wall, a watch and its movement are constantly put through different positions on the wrist. Gravity’s effect acts on the hairspring from as many as six different directions.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor

With four oscillatiors set at an incline and a differential mechanism to extrapolate the average rate, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor places first in showmanship

The argument that a tourbillon would be the ideal solution to optimal rate accuracy (or not) is a tale as old as time. A less conventional but no less exciting solution is to implement additional balance wheels instead of just the one.

Companies like Roger Dubuis, F.P. Journe, and more recently, Audemars Piguet and Greubel Forsey all have stunning inventions to show. In particular, Roger Dubuis outdid even itself and worked with two pairs of two balances in pursuit of timekeeping precision. Even ultra-niche MB&F has thrown its hat in the ring with this formula.

Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Incliné

The Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Incliné uses two balance wheels set at a 30-degree incline

Audemars Piguet presented the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked this year. It is the first timepiece by the Le Brassus manufacture to be made with two balance wheels, in what it calls the dual balance patented geometry.

Before this seminal invention, Audemars Piguet had only produced watches with double hairsprings. With the ambition to increase timekeeping precision, its watchmakers mounted a second balance wheel with its own balance spring on the same axis as the first, resulting in a regulator that oscillates at three hertz with double the mass. More mass equals more inertia, and more inertia enables the regulator to continue oscillating even when there is shock. Ergo, the greater the inertia, the more stable the timekeeping.

MB&F Legacy Machine No.2

The MB&F Legacy Machine No.2 flaunts two balance wheels hanging over the dial and seemingly disconnected from the differential wheel.

Precision also stands to benefit and this movement, Calibre 3132, boasts an average daily rate of -2/+10. Also, because the two balance wheels are set against each other, the hairsprings take turns to “breathe” and the effect of gravity gets cancelled out as the device regulates itself.

Greubel Forsey has always dabbled in movements with multiple balance wheels or multiple tourbillons set at multiple axes. From the get-go, this ultra-niche firm has been about modern horological inventions, and so it’s not surprising that it is home to the most robust collection of double (and quadruple) tourbillons on the market.

Joining the Double Balancier Incliné of 2009 is the breath-taking Double Balancier à Différentiel Constant with two balance wheels set at a 30-degree incline from the mainplate. Between two regulators lies a spherical and constant force differential that is used to average out the errors of the two balances. Note that because they’re set at an incline, the balances are already more accurate than ordinary ones, as no matter what position the watch is in, either one or both of the balances will not be completely vertical to the force of gravity.lm2_platinum_engine

Other than to even out the margins of errors of the two balances, the differential is also boosted by a constant force mechanism that sends energy in regular pulses to the two escapements. This means that irrespective of the movement’s state of wind, the amount of power being sent to the regulators remain constant.

Without it, the regulators stand to oscillate faster and stronger when the mainspring is fully wound, and with progressively less speed and power as energy in the mainspring depletes. Oscillating in tandem, the two balance wheels produce a hypnotic effect that is even more exciting to watch than any traditional high complication.

Going by the kind of watches Roger Dubuis has been producing, audacity would clearly be its middle name if the Genevan manufacture had one. Three years ago, it released a watch called the Excalibur Quatuor that had not one, not two, but four spring balances. Needless to say, the movement, Calibre RD101, stood beside itself both in terms of technique and aesthetic.

F.P Journe's Chronomètre à Résonance

F.P Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance remains the only double balance movements that utilises the phenomenon of resonance for regulation.

Each of the four balance wheels was set at an incline to average out the effects of gravity on the movement, and the wheels work in pairs, compensating immediately for rate variations caused by changes in position. According to Roger Dubuis, what the tourbillon achieves in 60 seconds, the Quatuor does instantaneously.

This movement is also equipped with a differential device to average out the errors of both pairs of spring balances, and oscillating at four hertz each, they come together to bring the accuracy of the movement to an astonishing 16 hertz. Putting one’s ear next to the watch, the break-neck speed at which all four balances simultaneously oscillate produces a sound that’s not quite the soothing, traditional tick-ticking, but rather, an almost deafening trill not unlike the cacophonous chirping of crickets.

A sure sight for sore eyes, the MB&F Legacy Machine No. 2 offers a sleek and modern take on the double balance movement. Ironically, though, this timepiece finds more inspiration in the past as opposed to the future. According to MB&F founder, Maximilian Büsser, the idea for the LM2 came from timepieces made by two esteemed watchmaking legends: the double balance calibres made by Ferdinand Berthoud from the 18th century and the one-and-only Philippe Dufour Duality.F.P Journe's Chronomètre à Résonance

Hovering above the dial, the two balances are supported by a pair of curved arms designed to evoke a distinctive futuristic vibe echoed by the bridge supporting the gilded differential wheel. The objective of this differential wheel is, once again, to average out the errors between the two balances. Oscillating at a leisurely 18,000vph, these mesmerising devices mirror each other and reflect the twin wheel layout of two gear wheels seen from the case back, which remind one of a style of watchmaking that was dear to Berthoud. Done, as usual, in collaboration with friends of the brand, the LM2 movement was designed by Jean-François Mojon of the movement specialist firm, Chronode, and expertly finished by Kari Voutilainen.

Making a movement with two balance wheels isn’t as easy as it sounds. Bear in mind that in watchmaking, as with all kinds of engineering, having more parts means more parameters to control. Therefore, a double balance movement is more than twice as complicated to make. In lieu of a differential to even out the performances of both balances, F.P. Journe utilised the much under-explored physical phenomenon known as resonance to synchronize the two balances.

Mechanical resonance is where the frequency of oscillation of an object matches the frequency of another, resulting in an increase of amplitude. The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance is, till date, the only wristwatch that relies on the resonance phenomenon for precision – proof that such a movement is immensely complex to design and difficult to achieve. Both balances have to be placed at the optimum distance from each other, and this is adjustable by a central pinion. Because they’re placed so near each other, one affects the other’s frequency, thus constantly compensating for the deviations. The two balances are also made in the signature F.P. Journe extra-large geometry with four arms and corresponding adjustable inertia weights, where large balance wheels typically offer greater stability thanks to higher moments of inertia generated.

Good Timekeeping

Another area where an additional balance wheel comes in extra handy is in chronograph movements. Traditionally, chronographs experience a sharp drop in amplitude whenever the stopwatch mechanism is activated because those components deplete power from the gear train. Thus, for that split second or so, timekeeping precision would suffer, and fully regain only when the chronograph is stopped and reset. This condition affects not only chronographs, but all movements with additional functions, particularly functions that require a significant amount of power to operate. Repeaters are another example.

Montblanc's Timewriter II Bi-Fréquence 1000

Montblanc’s Timewriter II Bi-Fréquence 1000 uses a separate balance wheel for the chronograph, which pulsates at 360,000vph, but thanks to a patented divisional mechanism, measures time accurate to 1/1,000th of a second.

Having a separate balance wheel for the chronograph function not only eliminates this problem but also enables the movement to measure time autonomously and with even greater accuracy. When it is no longer at the mercy of the gear train, the chronograph’s balance has the freedom to oscillate at higher frequencies than the regular balance wheel.

This brings with it several advantages. The higher the frequency, the more accurate the timekeeper. Yet high frequency balances are subject to a lot more wear and tear, so limiting its use to only when needed would be extremely judicious. Finally, a high frequency balance needs to be small in diameter, which although fast and accurate, is not especially stable; large balances are stable although not as accurate. Therefore, what is the optimal geometry for good chronograph activity isn’t at all good for the regular hours and minutes, and so having a dedicated balance to each is to have the best of both worlds.

For a time, TAG Heuer had committed itself to the development of some of the fastest, most accurate chronographs on the market. Watches like the Carrera Mikrograph and Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000 offer super accurate chronograph function on the one hand and stable timekeeping on the other. The Mikrograph’s chronograph records time accurate to the nearest 100th of a second with a micro balance wheel that beats at an insane 360,000vph while the main balance wheel for the hours and minutes cruises along at a relatively leisurely 28,800vph, which is actually considered pretty fast for the hours and minutes.

Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent

The Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent uses silicon balance springs with Breguet overcoil in both balance wheels

On the other hand, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 takes things up another notch, measuring time to the nearest 1,000th of a second. Its micro balance wheel powers on at a breakneck speed of 3.6 million times per hour, making it 125 times faster than a standard Swiss chronograph, and a hundred times more accurate than the most prevalent industrialized fast-beat chronograph movement, the Zenith El Primero. To watch this timepiece in action is not for the faint hearted because the central seconds hand spins around the dial a whopping 10 times per second. The only drawback is that the chronograph is only able to clock short events of no more than 150 seconds.

Both the Mikrograph and Mikrotimer Flying 1000 are made with the TAG Heuer dual-chain architecture, which eliminates the need for a clutch, but more impressively, both timepieces received COSC certification. Even while the chronograph is running, the watches remain highly precise.

Also measuring time in high definition is Montblanc with its TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000 released in 2012. Again, there is one balance wheel for timekeeping and another for the chronograph, where the former beats at a deliberate pace of 18,000vph or 2.5 hertz, while in stark contrast, the latter pulsates at 360,000vph or 50 hertz. Here’s where the ingenuity of independent watchmaker Bartomeu Gomila comes into play.

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph

The TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph has two balance wheels, one for the hours and minutes oscillating at 28,00vph and another for the chronograph that oscillates at 360,000vph.

Compared to the Mikrotimer Flying 1000’s 3.6 million vph frequency, the Bi-Fréquence 1000 is 10 times slower. Yet it manages to display time just as accurately (to the nearest thousandth of a second) thanks to Gomila’s unique and patented mechanism. According to Montblanc, it took 10 years for Gomila to build the prototype, which is based on the idea of a childhood game involving a hoop and a stick. Using a thousandths wheel as the hoop and the chronograph gear train as the stick, the thousandths wheel rotates 10 times per second with each impulse received from the gear train. Thus, Gomila’s invention allows further division of the elapsed time by 10 times, thus yielding 1/1,000th of a second reading from a 1/100th of a second balance frequency.

The chronograph also has its own mainspring and can continue running for 45 minutes when fully wound. Both balance wheels can be seen through the dial, along with the chronograph minutes and seconds at six o’clock, the centrally mounted hundredths of a seconds hand that corresponds to the scale on the outermost circumference, and an arch window at 12 o’clock displaying 1/1,000th of a second.

If there were just one watch that deserves to be made with two balance wheels, it would be none other than the Breguet Tradition. Firstly, this timepiece inspired by early Breguet souscription watches is known for its fully openworked aesthetic, where the balance wheel is mirrored by the third wheel and its arbour to form a pleasantly symmetrical aesthetic. But where the balance wheel can be seen constantly oscillating, the third wheel appears not to move at all, even though in reality it is – just very slowly. As beautiful as the Tradition is, many purists and WISes lament this one tiny imperfection.

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000

With an incredible frequency of 3.6 million times per hour, the TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000 records time accurate to 1/1,000th of a second.

With the Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent, however, this “wrong” is finally righted, as instead of the third wheel, there is the chronograph balance wheel. To achieve maximum design integrity, Breguet made this balance wheel in the same size as the timekeeping balance. However, in order for it to function optimally, it had to be made in titanium. This is because it oscillates at five hertz and this needs to be lighter than the traditional timekeeping balance oscillating at three hertz.

It may not be ultra-precise like the TAG Heuer and the Montblanc but this timepiece is extra reliable as a pair of brakes engages the chronograph balance every time it starts and stops. Mainly, its role is to ensure positional integrity when the balance stops and optimal amplitude when it starts. Breguet has also used silicon overcoil hairsprings and pallet forks in these areas.

The chronograph can run continuously for 20 minutes because it has its own mainspring. Winding it isn’t done through the crown, but rather, it happens automatically when the reset button is pushed. The reset button winds a small blade spring, which can be seen through the sapphire case back.

Train Reaction

Apart from introducing additional balance wheels, some watchmakers have considered other means of isolating a movement’s timekeeping elements from its functional ones. The most prolific of them would have to be Jaeger-LeCoultre and its ingenious Dual Wing concept. Introduced in 2008, it is essentially a system with two separate gear trains, each with its own mainspring and barrel, and both sharing one regulating organ.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire

As with double balance movements, one of the gear trains is dedicated to timekeeping and the other, all the functions and complications built into the movement. To date, they include moon phases, dual time, chronograph, the Jaeger-LeCoultre patented Sphérotourbillon, and the grande sonnerie in the inimitable Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie.

With a balance frequency of 21,600vph, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre watches aren’t the fastest timekeepers on the market but in terms of rate precision there is no doubt that they’re among the very best. Reaching -1/+6 seconds per day, the Dual Wing construction allows all manner of complications to function without causing any loss of amplitude to the balance.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Spherotourbillon Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Spherotourbillon Moon

This is because there is no connection between the two going trains; the two gear trains run completely independently of each other, that is, until the end where they converge at the balance wheel. Of all the variations made to date, energy guzzlers like the chronograph and the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie stand to benefit the most from the Dual Wing construction.

Manually wound, the Calibre 380 movement family stays powered for 50 hours. This applies to the hours and minutes as well as the complication, in the case of Calibre 380A, the chronograph. Each barrel is clearly labelled and they correspond to their respective power reserve indicators on either side of the foudroyante counter displaying 1/6th of a second.

Hot on the heels of the Duomètre is the F.P. Journe Centigraphe Souveraine, which also offers a method of chronograph timekeeping that does not sap the life out of the mainspring, not even for a fraction of a second. Again, the chronograph has been isolated from the timekeeping mechanism, but here is where the Centigraphe Souverain is absolutely unique.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Chronograph

The hands of the 100th of a second, the 20 seconds, and the 10 minutes counters are driven by two different wheel trains bifurcated from the chronograph gear train. Next, the one-second and 20-seconds counters are also driven by their own wheel trains positioned on either side of a single intermediate wheel driven by the barrel arbour. Finally, yet another separate train of wheels, also driven by the barrel arbour, drives the 10-minutes hands. In short, all of the hands draw power directly from the mainspring.

Forward Spiral

To average out the effects of gravity on the balance spring, a watchmaker may decide to construct a tourbillon carriage with which to protect the balance wheel and its spring, but this device makes regulation exponentially more difficult. Said watchmaker may also decide to split the flow of power into two sets of balance wheel and spring, interpolating their rates of precision with a differential, as seen with the timepieces discussed earlier by Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey, Roger Dubuis, and MB&F.

F.P Journe Centigraphe Souveraine

The F.P Journe Centigraphe Souveraine combines ultra-precise timekeeping with one-of-a-kind mechanics

While not quite as magnificent as the tourbillon, double balances are, in their own way, just as thrilling to admire. This places movements with double hairsprings one rung below the double balance when it comes to horological greatness.

Yet, it would not be fair to presume that such movements are inherently less complicated to make. The balance spring, a thing of beauty in itself, is something literally only a handful of watch companies can make in-house. To produce variants of the industry standard – Nivarox with Breguet overcoil – would be to call on a wholly different area of watchmaking expertise. At first blush, a double spiral looks deceptive simple, as it lacks the drama and fanfare of a tourbillon or a double balance system, but put it under the loupe and its beauty instantly becomes palpable.

Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater's Calibre 2928

Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater’s Calibre 2928 uses double hairsprings in one balance.

How does a double spiral system resist gravitational forces? Positioned opposite each other, the springs “breathe” alternately; when one expands, the other contracts. In addition, they each move in the opposite direction. So, when the center of gravity of the first balance spring makes a shift, the center of gravity of the second one moves in the exact opposite direction, thus compensating for the error and ensuring that the gravity center is always kept at the center of the balance wheel.

The theory behind achieving optimal rate accuracy using two spirals is not too different from that which uses two balances – components move in opposite directions to equal out the effect of gravity on the spirals. But having two spirals in one balance wheel reduces the need for additional components, thus making it easier to regulate the oscillator.

Audemars Piguet's Millenary Quadriennium

Introduced in 2015, the Millenary Quadriennium also comes with Audemars Piguet’s proprietary AP escapement and two balance springs

Before this year’s Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, Audemars Piguet has presented timepieces with two spirals within a single balance wheel. The Millenary Minute Repeater with AP Escapement combines the proprietary AP escapement with a double spiral (flat terminal curve) and variable inertia balance wheel that oscillates at 21,600vph. Its vast expanse of a dial affords stunning views of the escapement as well as the regulator.

Likewise, the Millenary Quadriennium also boasts the AP escapement and a double spiral regulator oscillating at 21,600vph. According to Audemars Piguet, the movements are as precise as a tourbillon, since the AP escapement brings higher timekeeping efficiency and the double spiral compensates for potential poising flaws. While flat spirals typically do not breathe as concentrically as overcoil spirals, a double spiral construct renders this issue void because errors are effectively cancelled out when the springs take turns to breathe and in opposing directions.

H. Moser & Cie's Straumann double hairspring can be found in the Henry Double Hairspring, a watch named after the company's founding father.

H. Moser & Cie’s Straumann double hairspring can be found in the Henry Double Hairspring, a watch named after the company’s founding father.

The production of hairsprings is a regular milieu of a very select few watchmaking companies. There is literally only a handful of them, and H. Moser & Cie. might be considered the least likely to boast this capability on account of its ultra-niche branding and small production numbers. Its sister company, Precision Engineering AG, makes balance springs that are physically comparable to the Nivarox springs invented by Reinhard Straumann, which almost all companies today use. Nivarox consists of about 45 per cent cobalt, 20 per cent nickel, 20 per cent chromium, five per cent iron, and smaller percentages of titanium and beryllium, and so does the Straumann hairspring proprietary to H. Moser & Cie., so named in tribute to the inventor.

Note the set of two swan neck regulators under the balance bridge.

Note the set of two swan neck regulators under the balance bridge.

Using two Straumann hairsprings, H. Moser & Cie. made a double spiral for the escapement in a timepiece that paid tribute to its founding father, Heinrich Moser. Rather than a flat hairspring, the spiral is made with a Breguet overcoil to allow optimal concentric breathing, and like all H. Moser & Cie. watches, its entire escapement can be removed from the movement thanks to the interchangeable module design. The escape wheel and pallet fork are done in hardened gold, another key characteristic of an H. Moser & Cie. timepiece.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral

The Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral is classic on the outside, complex in the inside.

Speaking of in-house manufactured hairsprings, Montblanc not only produces them by hand at its Villeret manufacture, but it also managed to flaunt this exceptional mastery with a double cylindrical spiral in the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique. Introduced in 2011, this timepiece is linked to historical marine chronometers, which also tended to be made with cylindrical hairsprings. In this work of mechanical showmanship, the double cylindrical hairspring is paired with an extra-large variable inertia regulator balance wheel and a magnificent tourbillon carriage that is essentially three infinity signs fused in one. The tourbillon bridge also follows through with the infinity symbol motif.

Where there is a double hairspring that already works to cancel out the effects of gravity, a tourbillon regulator is arguably superfluous. However, the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique stubbornly combines both in this showpiece that offers a mere hint of watchmaking savoir-faire by Montblanc’s Villeret manufacture. The oscillator moves at a frequency of 2.5 hertz or 18,000vph, which is the traditional speed of all of Montblanc’s Villeret-made timepieces. Slow compared to even moderately paced movements, the manual-winding Calibre MB M65.63 was intentionally given this frequency so collectors could clearly admire the beauty of the spirals, the balance, and of course, the tourbillon.

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Who else also made a tourbillon with two spirals? Watchmaking independent Laurent Ferrier, which is known for its pure, understated designs that juxtapose with elaborately finished and decorated movements. In the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral, the balance wheel oscillates with two inverted hairsprings that are mounted at the center. Once again, the double hairsprings increase the reliability of the regulating system by neutralizing the lateral displacement of the balance axis. At a frequency of 21,600vph, the entire regulating system is housed within a gorgeously finished tourbillon carriage. In addition, it rotates once every 60 seconds under a hand-decorated and hand-finished tourbillon bridge.

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique

Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique features two cylindrical hairsprings, one inside the other, within an extra-large balance and tourbillon carriage.

In their perpetual quest for timekeeping precision, watchmakers never fail to turn up new inventions that surprise and delight. This is where watchmaking becomes an art, not just a by-product of physics and mathematics in time telling. The beauty of two balance wheels oscillating to a classical cadence, the dance of two hairsprings taking turns to breathe, the elegance of two tourbillons rotating in unison… Less is not always more, especially in high watchmaking.

This article was first published in WOW.

Absolutely Brilliant: 14 Top Jewelry Watches

Like many things with a topping, jewellery watches tend to be larger than life. They may not be to everyone’s taste – there are those who wouldn’t touch a brew with cream and sugar in it or people who’d always scrape the icing off a cupcake; but when a watch is dressed in a Technicolor coat of precious stones, everything goes up a notch, or 10. Price for one, for not just the material, skill, design, and man-hours, but also sourcing stones from the ends of the Earth and working tirelessly over them, polishing, cutting, and setting racks up significantly higher costs. And secondly, there’s wattage: Not the electricity it takes to light a bulb, but metaphorically, an index of the amount of attention a jewelled watch is going to attract.

This happy circumstance of putting hand to stone, far from creating broken windows, has instead birthed a bewildering range of jewellery watches of every shade of colour, and taste, limited only by the collective imagination of the human race. Some watches go for subtlety, with just a light dusting of precious stones to bring up the lustre. In other instances, it is the diamonds and precious stones paved like tarmac that do the talking for the timepiece.

In both, and the continuum of moderation in between, a watch is worn all the better when the degree of ornamentation is pitched exactly to what the wearer intends. Here are some that have caught our eye.


If a wattage could be ascribed to this class, it would be on the top end of the scale, by the sheer weight of stones, usually diamonds, paved onto every nook and cranny of the timepiece’s three-dimensional form. It’s conceivable only the night sky will have more stars by number, however, the point is not really to count, but to declare, “Here I am!” People will stare for sure because watches in this class aren’t just slathered with the good stuff; they are also designed in a way that proclaims wealth, loud and proud.


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
When one of the most established Swiss watchmaking houses creates something that is modern and captures the spirit of the times, an icon is birthed. In this case, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, much-beloved of elite rapper and sports celebrities, is released in nearly as many special editions to match. Wholly carpeted with diamonds – save for onyxes to mark the hours – the result is a thoroughly aspirational emblem of excess.


Bulgari Octo Bi-Retrograde Full Diamonds
Squat and sleek at the same time, it’s like wearing a bunker on one’s wrist, its walls laid over with diamonds, and dual arcs in black ceramic for the retrograde minutes and date. Utterly glamorous with a commanding presence.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Collection EX45 Spyder 505SQ

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon with Diamonds
It’s a little ironic that a watch from which so much material has been excised should have such a long name. And in comparison with other megawatt watches in this category, it hasn’t got that many carats on its spec sheet either. But in both senses, whether metal or stone, the Spider Tourbillon exemplifies the ideal of projecting so much presence with so little. And what diamonds it’s got are set using a unique process, into the rubber moulding wrapped around the bezel.


Hublot Big Bang Unico “10 Years” Haute Joaillerie
It’s been 10 years since Hublot’s Big Bang stormed into the watch collecting scene, and to celebrate, the company introduced three new Big Bang models valued at a combined $10 million – an arresting statement from a company that writes the book on making statements! In particular, the Unico Haute Joaillerie comes in four references, set to the hilt in precious stones: black diamonds, white diamonds, white diamonds and blue sapphires, and white diamonds and red rubies.


If elegance is conveyed in a whisper, that is only relative in a manner of speaking. Timepieces here are not ‘loud’; but for sheer beauty and luxury, they give no quarter in their ability to draw one’s eye. Not by the collar, as compared to pieces that are all about bold expression – that would not be very refined. Rather, they cast their spell by compelling persuasion, even seduction. Enthrallment rather than shock and awe, and once ensnared, many would find they’d rather do backflips than look away.


Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon High Jewellery
There’s a white gold case forming the core of the watch, but one doesn’t get to see it, because the entire timepiece, save for the tourbillon and including the bracelet, is entirely paved with baguette-cut diamonds using an invisible setting technique. Working at tolerances down to 100th of a millimetre, the fit is perfect, no different from a second skin. A true creature of light.


Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Full Diamonds
The distinctiveness of its octagonal case and its angular lugs project immense presence. At the same time, the arctic blaze of the diamonds tiled over the whole watch finds beautiful contrast in the warmth and animation of the tourbillon.


Breguet Classique 5238
Even with diamonds up to its ears, paved on case, bezel, and lugs, the Classique 5238 with openworked dial has not shed a whit of the formal elegance and visual purity of the rest of the Classique family. Somehow, it manages to look luxurious without being extravagant, stealing the show without being 
overtly showy. Brilliant!


Breguet 5719 Classique Hora Mundi Haute Joaillerie
What looks to be a glamour piece for the ballroom actually scores very high on utility, featuring a self-winding movement with instant jump second time zone display at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Engraved day/night indicator is deliciously quaint, and the continent of one’s choice (America, Europe or Asia/Oceania) rendered in round-cut diamonds and set against wavy rose engine turned ocean is a sight to behold.


Every watch marched out of a serious watchmaking factory has had a lot of design thought into its creation: nothing is random, accidental, and every flourish makes a point even if it’s mechanically superfluous. But these watches take design a nudge further, ties are loosened if not flung away, and brushes are inked a little wetter for bolder strokes.


Cartier Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton Dragon Motif Watch
Watch aficionados light up for the skeletonised manufacture movement specially shaped to complement the dragon motif; but the latter itself is wonderfully stylised, drawn with softer lines that are a departure from the more regular renditions, all snarly, teeth and talons. Exquisite; and the Pasha’s distinctive crown has just a bit of the oriental vibe to match.

Métiers d'Art Swan 86677-000G-B116

Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’art L’éloge De La Nature Swan
The swan being a symbol of enduring love, it is fitting that this watch should come as a pair, a men’s and a women’s model in 42mm and 39mm cases respectively. It takes two months to complete each dial, and four crafts – enamelling, engraving, guilloche, gem-setting – to impart vividness and liveliness to stone and metal, effecting a breath-taking rendition of a lustrous swan spreading its wings on a lake of enamel.


Very much of watchmaking is about technology and technique. The Swiss anchor and hairspring are important milestones in man’s technological advancement, a long way from stone tools and time measurement in drips and drabs. But especially in the 21st century, well into the age of digital and information technology holding sway, some watchmakers remain adamant about performing incredible feats of mechanical engineering, extending the relevance and wonder of the gear-driven timepiece.


Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Golden Jubilee
The plain vanilla MP-05 is already more exclusive than its supercar namesake, being limited to 50 pieces. But the Golden Jubilee created to celebrate SG50 and Big Bang’s 10th anniversary is even more so, as a unique piece. As unique as its orientation, which is not top-down like most watches, but front-back, like a stack of coins stood on their edges. The watch has 11 barrels (most watches have one) stacked just like this, visible as the central spine on the watch face, terminating in a vertical tourbillon and flanked by marked cylinders telling time and power reserve, over a scale of 50 days! Golden Jubilee model adds plenty of diamonds, like scales on a cobra’s head.


Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon
It’s like the watchmakers pussy-footed on the documents, to make doubly sure the mechanical merits are highlighted by precious stones without being upstaged; the archetypal “watch with jewellery” as opposed to the reverse. In this case, a handsome balance has been struck. Being adequately embellished, it’s not just the diamonds, but the supreme refinement and conservative elegance of Vacheron Constantin’s tourbillon – with the distinctive Maltese Cross tourbillon cage and outstanding 14-day power reserve – that shines through.


Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Diamond-Set Automatic Skeleton
How can one forget Piaget when thinking about gem-set watches? The manufacture’s dual expertise in watchmaking and jewellery crafting does not go unnoticed especially in such illustrious timepieces like this one. Of course the technical know-how is impressive; it’s not every day that a manufacture gets to successfully create an ultra-thin self-winding skeletonised flying tourbillon. But Piaget had already done that a few years ago, and with this new model, it went a step further, lavishing the movement Calibre 1270D with beautiful diamonds. The case, bezel, crown, and bracelet, as well as the micro-rotor, have all been set with a mix of brilliant- and baguette-cut gems.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition
The Grande Maison’s watchmaking mastery extends out of grand complications and into such luxuriant yet tasteful gem-setting as seen in these two stunning creations. We have the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétual with flawless baguette-cut gems cradling the tourbillon as well as set all around the bezel and crown, not to mention its indexes too, and the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique, which is fully paved with baguette-cut gemstones. In the latter, Jaeger-LeCoultre plays with colours, namely blue 
and silver, by mixing blue sapphires with diamonds, and white gold with blued steel.

Story Credits
Text by Yeo Suan Futt

This article was originally published on World of Watches

Pre-SIHH: Two New Roger Dubuis Timepieces

For its SIHH 2015 offerings, Roger Dubuis is concentrating on the art of skeletonisation, with a focus on executing it in the Excalibur collection. The latter is, of course, one of Roger Dubuis’s mainstay collections, what with its round case, fluted bezel, triple lug design, and Dauphine hands. Rather than applying the technique on existing watches and movements, however, the manufacture has opted to design new ones – both watches and movements – from the ground up. The result? A potent mix that people familiar with the brand will not mistake for anything else.

Although Roger Dubuis will release several new calibres for 2015, they share a common design language with angular star-shaped bridges in lieu of elegantly curved ones. These “stars” are anchored to the inner sides of the case, at the hour marker positions, and as such lack a regular shape. Their resemblance to spider webs is deliberate – the manufacture has cited them as a source of inspiration, given their strength vis-à-vis their minimalist structures. To match these skeletonised movements, Roger Dubuis has extended openworking to the case, inner flange, and hands of each watch.

Pre Sihh Roger Dubuis 2The Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon is exactly as its name suggests, from its namesake collection, to the technique in focus, to the highlight complication. The watch features a manual winding RD505SQ movement, with a flying tourbillon at seven o’clock. Its case is a chunky 45mm across and 13.75mm high, but made of titanium with an almost lattice-like structure for its lugs and case middle, which contributes significantly to weight savings. The watch’s contemporary look is matched by a black rubber strap, complete with a titanium deployant clasp.Pre Sihh Roger Dubuis 3The Excalibur Automatic Skeleton may lack its elder sibling’s tourbillon complication, but its technical achievements are no less impressive. The timepiece’s self-winding RD820SQ calibre necessitates the inclusion of a rotor; a regular design will obscure the view through the case and reduce the perceived airiness, which leaves the option of either a micro-rotor or a peripheral winding system. Roger Dubuis’s choice is the former – but skeletonised as well, in keeping to the theme.Pre Sihh Roger Dubuis 4The watches above, like the rest of Roger Dubuis’s timepieces, are certified with the Geneva Seal. There aren’t many surfaces left to work on, but a closer look will reveal techniques such as circular graining, perlage, and linear finishing.


Roger Dubuis and the “Time for Change” Initiative

Raising funds for a cause as part of your corporate social responsibility? Instead of a glitzy event with international celebrities in attendance, how about something lower key… such as a silent auction? Roger Dubuis, in partnership with the Emirates Airline Foundation, is launching the “Time for Change” initiative to raise funds for children around the world.

The “Time for Change” initiative is an auction that will run from 15 August 2014 to 15 March 2015, and is open to all Emirates flight passengers. The item going under the hammer is a Roger Dubuis Excalibur Skeleton Flying Double Tourbillon, which is a one-off piece designed exclusively for this partnership. Interested passengers can view and submit their bids for the watch at the Roger Dubuis boutique at The Boulevard, Emirates Towers in Dubai. Apart from owning a unique collector’s timepiece, the winning bidder will be invited for a VIP visit to Roger Dubuis’s facilities in Geneva, to get an in-depth look at the manufacture’s operations. The winner will also meet the master watchmaker who crafted said watch. In exchange, proceeds from the auction will go entirely towards the Emirates Airline Foundation’s programmes aimed at improving the lives of children around the world.Roger Dubuis And The Time For Change Initiative 5At the press conference kicking off the initiative, Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Roger Dubuis, expressed his pride in the partnership and wished that the timepiece will be able to raise the maximum amount of money for the foundation. Terry Daly, board member of the Emirates Airline Foundation, echoed his sentiments, and said he hopes that the initiative would make a meaningful difference.

The Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon is the first such timepiece from the brand featuring an openworked double flying tourbillon. Skeletonised movement aside, the hand-wound Calibre RD01SQ movement also uses a differential system to average the rates of its two tourbillons which, according to Roger Dubuis, confers the timepiece greater accuracy. Despite its technical complexity, the watch is reasonably sized at 45mm, and has a black DLC coating that further reduces its perceived dimensions. Like all its siblings from the manufacture, this watch is certified Poinçon de Genève.Roger Dubuis And The Time For Change Initiative 4

The Hommage Tribute To Roger Dubuis – Vital

If there were one watch that encapsulated everything about Roger Dubuis, it would be the Hommage Flying Tourbillon with large date. This timepiece embodies the core watchmaking philosophies dear to the master watchmaker, like technical complexity, functionality and luxury. With the flying tourbillon (instead of a bridged one) Dubuis demonstrated technical dexterity, with the big date and power reserve indications, he demonstrated a focus on the essence of horology. Finally, he showed his dedication to watchmaking excellence by subjecting his watches to the stringent criteria of the Poinçon de Genève.

Hommage Tribute To Roger Dubuis

The Hommage Tribute To Roger Dubuis honours all of the above, and also to the master watchmaker’s entire life’s work. At once contemporary and classical, this watch features a beautiful sapphire crystal exhibition case back through which one can admire the perfect Côtes de Genève decoration, hand-applied perlage and polished screws, plus another view of the flying tourbillon. Dubuis’s signature is also discreetly engraved at 12 o’clock on the case back.

Considering that this timepiece was created as a throwback to the original 1995 model, its design remains startlingly contemporary – a testament to the progressive aesthetic codes of Roger Dubuis since the company’s inception. Commemorating the master watchmaker’s matriculation number at the Geneva Watchmaking School, this watch will be released in a limited production of only 208 pieces (price unavailable).

 Hommage Tribute To Roger Dubuis

Roger Dubuis Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon – Redux

Making a comeback this year is the Hommage collection which embodies the world of incredible mechanics for Roger Dubuis. It is also a tribute to the brand’s eponymous founder who created the first Hommage timepiece in 1995. As classical as a Roger Dubuis watch can possibly be, it is characterised by a round case with a smooth concave bezel and robust yet slender curved lugs, but naturally, the innovative spirit of the master watchmaker is what distinguishes the Hommage from the others.

Roger Dubuis Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon 

The double flying tourbillon has long been Roger Dubuis’s signature complication and a new rendition had been made especially for the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with hand-made guilloché. As its name implies, the watch features hand-made guilloché, and where guilloché is ordinarily found on dials (occasionally cases and bezels), here it is applied directly on the movement’s main plate. Indeed, in place of a conventional dial, the movement was used as the backdrop for the hour numerals and hands.

Applying guilloché on the main plate, however, isn’t as straightforward as doing so on a dial because a dial is flat and uniformly thin on all planes but a main plate has been bored with holes and recesses to accommodate the gear wheels and screws during the assembly stage. Thus, the engraver had to control the guillochage extremely well in order not to remove more material than is necessary. Removing too much material would compromise the movement’s overall rigidity while removing too little would yield a less than ideal aesthetic effect.

But to intensify the already challenging task of guilloché on a main plate, the manufacture pushed the limits even further by etching each line no fewer than four times where it would have ordinarily been only two. The motivation behind this was to achieve deeper grooves for a more pronounced ribbing effect. In addition, Roger Dubuis achieved the ultra-brilliant gleam by retaining the polished surfaces instead of grinding them down in a process called crémage. Lastly, the usual method of applying hour numerals couldn’t be used because that would almost definitely mar the painstakingly engraved surfaces, so a novel solution was devised. Tiny ‘feet’ were soldered onto the numerals, tiny holes bored through the main plate, and those tiny ‘feet’ were fitted into those tiny holes. Voila!

Variations of the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with hand-made guilloché include white gold and pink gold with a rhodium-plated movement, as well as a super luxe full pink gold model (with pink gold movement Calibre RD102) limited to 88 pieces. For even greater exclusivity, a 28-piece limited boutique edition with baguette-cut diamonds set into the bezel and on the buckle (price unavailable).

 Roger Dubuis Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon

Dazzling Diva: Roger Dubuis Velvet High Jewellery

Dazzling Diva Roger Dubuis Velvet Haute Joaillerie 4

Strong lines, distinctive accents and bold features are assets within every Roger Dubuis collection, and the Velvet collection naturally has its unique design DNA. Graphic dials in relief on two levels create a depth effect while elongated Roman numerals and appliques emanate from the centre. The lugs are highly elaborate and designed to fit seamlessly onto a round or barrel shaped trompe l’oeil case.

This high jewellery model is studded with a total of 304 diamonds inlayed using the invisible-type setting, which hides the claws holding the gems, simulating a magnified look. Its white gold case is covered with 138 baguette-cut diamonds in 24 different sizes, while its dial has a further 136 diamonds in 50 different sizes. To top it all off, it has two unique cut-to-measure cushion-cut diamonds of about 0.4 carats decorated on the strap attachments (12 and six o’clock). Its black satin-finish strap has a white gold adjustable folding buckle set with 30 baguette-cut diamonds. Limited to 28 pieces only, this watch has a 36mm case that’s water resistant to 30m.

Dazzling Diva Roger Dubuis Velvet Haute Joaillerie 6

Not just stunning on the outside, the Velvet High Jewellery is also profoundly beautiful internally. Decorated with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève, the in-house manufactured self-winding Calibre RD821 is visible through the exhibition case back, and it wears this accolade proudly on the oscillating mass.

Variations of the Velvet include white gold with brilliant-cut diamonds, pink gold with pink gold bracelet, and a bold black PVD steel model studded with black diamonds and amethysts. Indulging in your inner diva has never been more delightful.

Dazzling Diva Roger Dubuis Velvet High Jewellery


Bling Ring: 8 Bracelet Watches

 Bracelet Watches 12

Piaget Gouverneur Tourbillon
Go all the way with Piaget’s Gouverneur Tourbillon. Loved for its unique design that harmonises two shapes – round case with an oval dial – it is a worthy addition to the brand’s Black Tie collection. The ultra-thin calibre 642P mechanical movement runs within the timepiece. Bearing the Piaget crest above the flying tourbillon at 12 o’clock, this watch features a pointer-type moon phase which only requires a one-day correction once every 122 years. Generously adorned with baguette cut diamonds, this piece is a definitely a show stopper and a conversation starter.


 Bracelet Watches 15

Patek Philippe Ref. 5980/1AR Nautilus Chronograph
Arguably the epitome of elegant sport watches Patek Philippe’s Nautilus is a horological icon with a cult following. Now available in a trendy bicolour option (stainless steel and rose gold), it is bound to reel in more fans. The Nautilus Chronograph has a gorgeous black-blue dial with the signature Nautilus horizontal embossed pattern that houses an integrated tone-on-tone monocounter, indicating elapsed minutes and hours, at six o’clock. This unconventionally sleek arrangement for the counters runs on the automatic calibre CH 28-520C. Its 18K rose gold hands and indexes are layered with luminescent coating, and the timepiece is fitted with a stainless steel and 18K rose gold bicolour bracelet, as well as a Nautilus fold-over clasp.


 Bracelet Watches 11

Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Chronograph
If technology and advanced craftsmanship existed during in medieval times, the knights of the round table would undoubtedly be donning the Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 chronograph. Not only would it provide accurate timings for battles, thanks to its chronograph function, but the rest of the signature elements of the Excalibur series – the elongated Roman numerals, fluted bezel, and the triple horns that attach the bezel – give off the stately aura of knightly regalia. The timepiece houses the new chronograph calibre RD681 with a micro-rotor and power reserve of 52-hours. Comprising 280 components, the movement comes embellished with Côtes de Genève motif and bears the prestigious Poinçon de Genève.


 Bracelet Watches 13

Louis Vuitton Tambour eVolution
A distinctive rounded case body, eight-sided crown and side engraving of the 12 letters of Louis Vuitton are all signature elements of a Tambour timepiece. As LV introduces its new Tambour eVolution, we see the addition of some new rules to Tambour’s DNA. Like an eager neophyte, it asserts its presence with robust features and definitely more attitude. ‘Black MMC’, a durable metal matrix composite mainly utilised in the aerospace industry and Formula 1 arena, is used to create its bezel and the flat-edged insert with the monogram logo on its crown. Bid adieu (at least for now) to the eight-sided crown and side engraving as they are respectively replaced with an ergonomic screw-down crown with nine groves and a large ‘V’ at the case side. It comes in a 43mm steel case for the GMT three-hand model and 45mm pink gold case for the GMT Chronograph.


 Bracelet Watches 14

Bulgari Octo Steel
If there is one watch that oozes Italian sprezzatura, the Bulgari Octo Steel is it. With a distinctive and unique case shape – a mash up of an octagon and a circle – this timepiece carries a mix of eastern and western symbols representing balance, perfection and harmony. Beauty runs deep within the timepiece as its movement boasts a host of refined finishing and decorations including chamfered and polished edges as well as Côtes de Genève pattern on the bridges, and perlage finishing on the main plate. While this macho timepiece is busy turning heads, the automatic calibre BVL 193 ensures that this watch does not stop working for at least 50 hours on a full wind.


 Bracelet Watches 8

Longines Conquest Classic
Longines’s Conquest evokes the genteel world of race horses, jockeys and triumphs. Specially created as a tribute to chronographs produced in 1881 for race-goers and New York jockeys, this collection eloquently communicates class, elegance, and the spirit of horse racing with an uncommon refinement. Fitted with the Calibre L688, a self-winding movement specially produced by ETA for Longines, it hosts 12-hour, 30-minute and 60-seconds counters, and is backed by a 54-hour power reserve. This steel and rose gold model is accompanied with a matching bracelet, bringing out the essence of timeless beauty.


 Bracelet Watches 9

Oris Aquis Depth Gauge
Every diver needs a diving buddy, and one could do worse than with the reliable Oris Aquis Depth Gauge which tells you exactly how deep you have gone underwater. Engineered by applying the Boyle Mariotte Law – which demonstrates how the volume of gas changes according to pressure – this is also the first diver watch that allows water to flow into the timepiece – how cool is that! Its sapphire crystal case top is 50 per cent thicker than average watches and it features a channel, milled into the side in anti-clockwise direction. As one descends into the depths with this timepiece, water will flow through this channel via the 12 o’clock inlet, causing the trapped air to indicate how far south the diver has gone based on the water pressure of that depth. Needless to say, this device could well save your life underwater, warning you not to get too carried away as you explore the deep blue.


 Bracelet Watches 10

Raymond Weil Maestro Phase De Lune
The Raymond Weil Maestro Phase De Lune demonstrates an intriguing interplay of the old and the new. While its exudes classicism with slender appliquéd Roman indices and a discreet 39.5mm round steel case with matching polished bracelet, it throws us a curveball with a contemporary grey dial and a sophisticated automatic movement with a moon phase complication – a first for the Swiss marquee. The RW4500 movement deserves special mention as it is incredibly easy to use for a moon phase calibre. When it comes to setting the phase of the moon on this watch, there’s no need to fuss with pins or special tools. Instead, Raymond Weil has thoughtfully incorporated two pushers between each set of the lugs to make adjustments a cinch. Remarkably, the pushers are flushed with the polished case so they do not disrupt the clean lines of the timepiece.