Had Roger Dubuis started his business in the mid-nineteenth century, in terms of prestige and repute he would be right up there with the Vacheron’s, the Audemars Piguet’s and even the Patek Philippe’s. In fact some would argue that the atelier, with the impudence to have established itself as recently as 1995, has already built a reputation as an impressive frontrunner in the world of Haute Horology. Like all the best maisons, Roger Dubuis crafts watches with a dazzling blend of contemporary appeal and respect for traditional watchmaking practices, which still guide and inform the modern day watchmaker.
In the relatively short time the marque has been in existence, it has already earned the right to be called a manufacture, a term used to explain the fact that all Roger Dubuis’s movements are 100% in-house made and 100% Poincon de Geneve certified, an exacting qualification, and one that no other watchmaker offers for every single watch. The brand is now the youngest in existence entitled to carry the Coat of Arms of Geneva, this certifies that not only are the movements made in house, but they have been assembled in the Canton of Geneva to strict specifications.
In just ten years Roger Dubuis has developed 31 calibres, many with patents, including an elegant self-winding movement to a grande complication calibre, all with hallmark beauty and artistry in their execution.
Geneva is a city where more than most, over the centuries it has witnessed the rise of hopeful young watch brands which have matured into brands of worldwide acclaim and respect. Despite the polite jostling for supremacy, the door is always open for more talent, perhaps because at its heart, watchmaking is a creative process, and try as you might, it is impossible to have a closed door policy on fresh creativity, it will always find a way to be noticed.
Despite the passing of over one and a half centuries, the founding of Roger Dubuis is strikingly similar to that of many Swiss watch brands before it. It took two men with vision and talent to start the brand, Roger Dubuis an exceptional watchmaker and Carlos Dias a gifted designer. The company started with three people, and two of those were the founders, Their vision was to create an exceptional range of watches for both men and women. These would include dazzling two and three hander watches, patented bi-retrograde calendar wristwatches, complex flying double tourbillons, scintillating single-pusher chronographs, patented bi-retrograde perpetual calendars, in short, the complete horological heavy armour.
While history had already laid down the ground rules for much of what Roger Dubuis wanted to produce, the close knit watch world was yet to see timepieces with such a powerful and dazzling personality. This is not a line from their own website, the fact is, hardened, cynical watch journos with barely a good word to say for certain brands, have emerged blinking in the thin Swiss sunlight from a Roger Dubuis manufacture visit genuinely spellbound by what they have seen.
If there are such things as Roger Dubuis watchwords they might be Creativity, Complexity, Exclusivity, and always Contemporary. With these key ingredients success has come quickly. Within just four years, watch group giant Richemont, who know a good watch brand when they see one, snapped up the brand quicker than an arowana will snap up a live cricket. If you haven’t seen how quick that is, visit an aquarium.
So what are the famous Roger Dubuis collections that have attracted so much kudos and media attention?
There’s the instantly recognisable KingSquare collection with bold, angular squared dials and skeletonised movements.
There’s Excalibur, intricate and highly conceptual watches with Roger Dubuis favoured oversized Roman numerals.
There’s a personal favourite, La Monégasque, said to take its inspiration from the gaming tables of Monte Carlo.
There’s Hommage, which is chiefly a tribute to Roger Dubuis himself, a collection replete with double flying tourbillons, the most demanding application of the most difficult complication of all to create. And the other notable collection is one of the most recent, Pulsion, distinguished by a unique sapphire crystal that covers the bezel.
Roger Dubuis’ is a rarefied horological world to be sure, and only a few will ever be lucky enough to own such important pieces. The company is housed in magnificent glass-walled premises in Geneva, where the brand employs over 400 employees and has 120 state-of-the art machines to help produce its luxury timepieces. If you have to ask the price you are clearly in the wrong part of town, but that’s not to say that the brand doesn’t know how to enjoy itself. Check out what they did to that clichéd Swiss institution the cuckoo clock recently as a way to promote a new watch for SIHH 2014.