I’ve admired from afar the skeletonized tourbillon watches that Roger Dubuis has been producing for years now. Delicate, interesting, visually assertive, and a bit controversial in their design, Roger Dubuis is a brand that when at its best is able to combine a true appreciation for the horological arts with a totally non-traditional expression of modern luxury. And of course, their most impressive models are totally unaffordable – no surprises there. So what’s changed for 2015? Well, I wish I could report that Roger Dubuis’ handiwork is now rock bottom priced for the masses, but of course that isn’t true. What is more correct is to say that Roger Dubuis has finally released a version of their cool skeletonized watches sans a tourbillon at a fraction of the price that, while not cheap, opens up their models to entirely new demographics of customers. These are the new Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Automatic Skeleton watches, and I was uniquely drawn to them at SIHH 2015.
Some people love classic timepieces and others want more boldly designed items on their wrist that speak more loudly. In some instances, people want either, depending on the day or how they feel. My own sentiments lean more toward the latter, because in today’s day and age horological appreciation can be lonely, and it is nice to have something you can share with people that immediately captures their interest. Watches in the Excalibur Skeleton collection are often pretty good at that, and while I don’t blame you if they aren’t your taste, I can see myself sporting more than one Roger Dubuis Skeleton model.
While 2015 also sees new watches with tourbillons or multiple tourbillons from Roger Dubuis, the most exciting news, in my opinion, is the release of the brand new Roger Dubuis produced caliber RD820SQ automatic movement. Produced in the canton of Geneva, it bears the Geneva Seal, and is fully modern yet minimalist and cool looking automatic mechanism. Operating at 4Hz (28,000 bph), the single barrel offers about 60 hours of power reserve and features a self-winding automatic micro-rotor. The rotor also happens to have its own semi-skeletonization design. This is the first time Roger Dubuis has produced an automatic version of their distinctive skeletonized movements.
The dark-colored bridge architecture looks a bit like a spider web and has interesting perlage polishing when examined closely. In there, of course, is also the distinctive “Roger Dubuis star” motif which is a design element Roger Dubuis is keen to have people associate with their products. I also like the simplicity of the movement, as it is produced from a scant 167 parts, and because it is so skeletonized, it allows people to really appreciate how mechanical movements operate – literally nothing is hidden from view.
To house the new RD820SQ automatic movement, Roger Dubuis decided to once again rely on their Excalibur case collection which I believe remains their most popular family of products. The specific case is the Excalibur 42, which at 42mm wide is a very reasonable 11.44mm thick. While you can go up to 47mm wide in an Excalibur case, such larger sizes really aren’t particularly comfortable for most people to wear on a daily basis. I actually like a lot of the 47mm wide Excalibur cases, but they aren’t suitable for constant wear. At 42mm wide, Roger Dubuis’ Excalibur case wraps around the wrist with ease and is pleasantly comfortable. The case is, however, only water resistant to 30 meters – so no swimming with one of these on.
You’d also not assume that the Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Automatic Skeleton watch is particularly legible – but it is. Roger Dubuis follows the wise practice of producing hands that are flat polished on one side and satin finished on the other. This offers a high-end look, but also one that allows the hands to pop out and be easy to read. A flange ring around the open dial with its view of the skeletonized movement has hour and minute markers which are further necessary for being able to read the time properly. As weird as Roger Dubuis can sometimes get with their designs, they are usually pretty good about remembering that at the end of the day, they are still producing watches, and that watches need to be read.
For 2015, the new Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Automatic Skeleton is available in three different styles. There are two versions in 18k pink gold (one set with diamonds) as well as a really neat looking Excalibur Automatic Skeleton in a black DLC-coated titanium case. While the pink gold models are certainly the more straight forward “luxury watches,” the DLC black titanium model has a wonderful mysterious yet complicated look to it that is further complimented by the dark gray finishing of the movement bridges.
Taking out the tourbillon offers much more versatility to a Roger Dubuis skeleton movement. Sure you can impress friends and colleagues with a Roger Dubuis double tourbillon skeleton watch – but that isn’t how most people roll. While avant garde and showy, the Roger Dubuis 42 Excalibur Automatic Skeleton is far more practical than most of what Roger Dubuis has offered until now if you want that great signature look of their skeletonized movements. Practically, really isn’t something to be scoffed at in the world of luxury watches, because comfort and mechanical reliability are two concepts seasoned watch lovers keen to measure when making new purchases.