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The Millennium Watch Book
Roger Dubuis  - Excalibur Double Tourbillon

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Tourbillon

First of a Dinasty*

The original 2005 watch was the first in a long dynasty that still holds sway at Roger Dubuis – and already bore within it the seeds of success.

While 2005 is not that long ago, this first Excalibur Double Tourbillon appears to hail from another era altogether. Roger Dubuis has moved on so much in terms of style, aesthetic appearance and mindset that the brand’s contemporary iterations and their august forebears appear to be worlds apart. That said, these forebears – including this very first Excalibur unveiled at the watch fair formerly known as SIHH – nevertheless had some aspects that prefigured the Manufacture’s present-day DNA. The Excalibur identity can already be discerned in the inaugural ‘EX45-01’ model. There’s the imposing 45mm dial, a diameter that was to become the hallmark of the collection. There’s also the crenelated bezel, now an absolute must too, as is the third central lug, created to fix the case to its strap more securely; and the Geneva Seal, which still graces almost all the watches produced by the brand. Last but by no means least, there’s the movement itself, its nascent audacity already apparent. Roger Dubuis was keen to ensure the Excalibur wasn’t “just another tourbillon”. For one thing, there were two of them. And since double tourbillons were already a thing, the Geneva-based Manufacture added its own twist by having its precious escapements rotate in opposite directions: counter-rotating, to use the appropriate aeronautical vocabulary.

Excalibur Double Tourbillon

Excalibur Double Tourbillon © Roger Dubuis

Counter-rotating Tourbillons

The dial of the first Excalibur is also distinctive. It is shared by two hands. The first, the hours hand, runs round the full circle of the dial and is a jumping hand, moving from one precise hour to the next in a single step, on the hour. The minutes hand, meanwhile, covers a 180° arc, and is both sweeping and retrograde: when it reaches 60 minutes, it immediately reverts to its starting point. The lower half is given over to the two tourbillons. The distinctive upper bridge sculpted in the shape of a trefoil is still a regular feature of all Roger Dubuis tourbillons and was indeed to become the style signature of most of the Manufacture’s skeleton collections through to the present day. In aesthetic terms, the disruptive choice of mother-of-pearl is noteworthy – a rare option for a 45mm-diameter watch intended mainly for men. Another eye-catching detail is that the original model had hour-markers only from 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock, making it rather difficult to read. This was rectified on later models, which have 12 Roman numeral hour-markers.

Excalibur Double Tourbillon

Excalibur Double Tourbillon © Roger Dubuis

Many Descendants

The Excalibur Double Tourbillon was to have a great many offspring. Before its launch year was out, there was also the EX45-08 Minute Repeater, followed by a skeleton version (RD01SQ calibre) in 2009. The single tourbillon was to follow soon afterwards. Most of these developments were the work of Carlos Dias, a self-made man who shaped the world of Roger Dubuis for 11 years. He had the firm’s first in-house calibres developed as early as 1999 and remained at the helm until the brand was bought out by the Richemont Group in 2008. 

*This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years of the Tourbillon in  The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English. 

 

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The brand

The Roger Dubuis Manufacture was founded on the desire for independence and watchmaking excellence. With remarkable dynamism, Roger Dubuis quickly ignited the world of Haute Horlogerie and has developed over thirty completely original in-house movements. Striking a fine balance between traditional watchmaking expertise and avant‑garde design, the Manufacture became a specialist in architectural skeletonised movements.

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