Roger Dubuis – Excalibur Double Tourbillon – The Millennium Watch Book

The original 2005 watch was the first in a long dynasty that still reigns at Roger Dubuis – and already carried the seeds of success with it.

While 2005 is not so long ago, this first Excalibur Double Tourbillon seems to belong to another era. Roger Dubuis has evolved so much in terms of style, aesthetic appearance and state of mind that the contemporary iterations of the brand and their august ancestors seem to be worlds apart. That said, these ancestors – including this very first Excalibur unveiled at the watchmaking fair formerly SIHH – nevertheless had a few aspects that foreshadowed the current DNA of the Manufacture. The Excalibur identity can already be discerned in the inaugural model “EX45-01”. There is the imposing dial of 45 mm, diameter which will become the hallmark of the collection. There is also the crenellated bezel, now essential, just like the third central lug, created to fix the case more firmly to its bracelet; and the Poinçon de Genève, which still adorns almost all the watches produced by the brand. Last but not least, there is the movement itself, its nascent daring already apparent. Roger Dubuis insisted that the Excalibur was not “just another whirlwind”. On the one hand, there were two of them. And since double tourbillons already existed, the Geneva Manufacture added its touch by rotating its precious escapements in opposite directions: counter-rotating, to use the appropriate aeronautical vocabulary.

Excalibur Double Tourbillon © Roger Dubuis

Counter-rotating vortices

The dial of the first Excalibur is also distinctive. It is shared by two hands. The first, the hour hand, goes around the dial completely and is a jumping hand, going from one precise hour to another in a single step, on the hour. The minute hand, for its part, traverses an arc of 180 °, and is both rapid and retrograde: when it reaches 60 minutes, it immediately returns to its starting point. The lower half is dedicated to the two tourbillons. The distinctive upper bridge sculpted in the shape of a clover is still a regular feature of all Roger Dubuis tourbillons and will indeed become the style signature of most of the Manufacture’s skeleton collections to this day. Aesthetically, we note the disruptive choice of mother-of-pearl – a rare option for a 45mm diameter watch intended primarily for men. Another striking detail, the original model only had indexes from 4 to 8 o’clock, which made it quite difficult to read. This has been rectified on later models, which have 12 Roman numeral indexes.

Excalibur Double Tourbillon

Excalibur Double Tourbillon © Roger Dubuis

Many descendants

The Excalibur Double Tourbillon was to have great offspring. Before its launch year ended, there was also the EX45-08 Minute Repeater, followed by a skeleton version (caliber RD01SQ) in 2009. The unique tourbillon was to follow soon after. Most of these developments are the work of Carlos Dias, a self-made man who shaped the world of Roger Dubuis for 11 years. He had the brand’s first in-house calibers developed in 1999 and remained in charge until the brand’s takeover by the Richemont group in 2008.

* This year, GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarizing the last 20 years of the Tourbillon in The Millenium Watch Book – Tourbillons, a large, beautifully laid out tabletop book. This article is an excerpt. The Millenium Watch Book – Tourbillons is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and in English.