Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with hand-made guilloche, the new masterpiece of Roger Dubuis Hommage collection highlights the traditional art of guilloche embodying an audacious combination of traditional and modern craftsmanship. The first Hommage models introduced in 1995 by Mr Roger Dubuis was created to pay glowing tribute to his forefathers in the watchmaking field as well as to horological traditions.
Now, to create the exceptional Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché, Gregory Bruttin and the R&D department that he heads opted for a deliberately simple display. Adopting a pared down design made it possible to tailor the movement even more closely to the intrinsically traditional nature of the Hommage collection, while also providing even more space in which to offer a contemporary aesthetic interpretation.
The result of these deliberations was the RD100, a new movement composed of 452 individually hand-finished parts, endowed with a 50-hour power reserve and which called for 1,200 hours of manufacturing – of which 360 are devoted to meeting the Poinçon de Genève criteria – as well as six full weeks of controls. Such an accomplished mechanism naturally deserved to be showcased to its full advantage. The new Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché achieves exactly that in a spectacular new demonstration of Roger Dubuis’ equally intense concern for the inner and outer beauty of its models. Endowed with historical design codes including long slender lugs, a concave bezel, large Roman numerals, a fluted crown and a distinctive folding clasp, it also features a range of subtle new touches.
As Lionel Favre, Associate Director of Product Design, points out, details such as the slightly more bevelled lugs, horizontal satin-brushing on the sides of the case, a large interhorn space ensuring a perfect fit, combine to create an even more ergonomic look and feel. Despite exuding an admirable presence, this generously sized model is not at all bulky and instead maintains an aura of refined elegance that befits its classic heritage.
The polished and alternating satin-brushed surfaces, along with the sunray effect that has become a signature feature of Roger Dubuis timepieces, jointly contribute to the graphic appeal based on effective contrasts such as that between the rhodium-plated movement and its pink gold case. Doubtless the most striking aspect of the new Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon – and the one that immediately catches and holds the gaze – is the highly original guilloché work on the front. This intricate technical and decorative technique creates a unique, delicate and precise sunburst effect that cannot fail to appeal and intrigue.
The art of guilloché, which dates back to the 16th century, consists in “decorating an object with engraved, etched and intersecting lines”. At the end of the 18h century (1786), this art was applied to decorating watch dials and cases. The brilliance of the incision in precious metals produced a peerless decorative effect and this technique enjoyed an extraordinary surge of popularity in the 19th century. In 21st century watchmaking, guilloché remains an unmistakable token of meticulous attention to detail and creates fascinating visual effects that enhance the personality of a watch.
Hand-guilloché techniques in particular convey a unique prestige, applied using age-old straight-line or rose engines turned or operated by artisans and thus in fact mere tools assisting the latter in their delicate task entirely guided by personal skill, experience and intuition. The beauty of the motifs thus created depends on the artisan’s aesthetic flair and dexterity, since the success of their endeavours is determined by a number of factors including speed, pressure and accurate positioning.
Recalling that the lines composing the patterns measure a mere hundredths of a millimetre (0.05 to 0.1 mm) deep gives a clearer idea of the hair’s breadth precision required to achieve an attractive final result. This is also precisely why the guilloché motifs hollowed out by the graver will never be identical on two given parts – a fact that in turns explains the unique and exceptional nature of each watch with a hand-guilloché dial.
In the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made Guilloché, the ample space provided by the new movement design sparked the creative decision to craft the décor directly on the movement mainplate – a move entirely in tune with Manufacture Roger Dubuis’ perpetual quest to push existing boundaries. Traditional guilloché work almost invariably involves crémage (literally ‘creaming’) with wet talcum powder so as to create a ground-down finish rather than a polished effect. This serves as a means of concealing the inevitable tiny micro-scratches created by the guilloché artisan in the direction of the grooves. As Gregory Bruttin explains, in reflecting on a potentially different technique, the idea was to remain in harmony with the genetic heritage of the Manufacture. Just as the Roger Dubuis approach to openworked or skeletonised movements is characterised by taut, dynamic straight lines rather than elaborate curves, here too the team was keen to create a resolutely modern take on a traditional craft. As often seems to occur when the Roger Dubuis R&D department decides to attempt an apparently risky and daring experiment, it turned out that simply skipping the crémage step enabled the light to play over the facets of the guilloché work and thus accentuate its dramatic visual impact.
The complementary decision to add a small bridge lends a further intriguing aesthetic touch, but nonetheless entailed its own difficulties, including ensuring a smooth, flawless transition. Separately guilloché working the two parts by hand meant that any unsightly scratches on the bridge would mean discarding both elements.
The hollowed guilloché work on this model also stands out by its impressive depth, exquisitely manually crafted by passing the tool across each notch or groove at least four times instead of the usual one or two! The size of each must be carefully balanced so as to ensure an harmonious appearance and the resulting 3D effect is indeed truly striking. The refinement of the traditionally guilloché bridges, associated with the contemporary mechanical beauty of the Roger Dubuis double flying tourbillon with differential ensuring enhanced precision, creates an aesthetic contrast representing an endless source of fascination. Catching and holding the light playing across the extremely accurate grooves, this pattern is also a nod to one of the Roger Dubuis signature features: namely lines converging towards the centre typified by the radiating layout of the numerals. The entire process requires a blend of extreme artistic sensitivity and manual dexterity, a winning combination faithfully cultivated at Roger Dubuis and which is given magnificent scope for expression on this stunning model.
Perhaps most crucially of all, the use of this hand-guilloché technique ensures that each dial is truly one of a kind, because the motifs hollowed out will never be entirely identical. Each wearer of such a timepiece can thereby enjoy the assurance of owning a truly unique object.
The applied Roman numerals are fitted directly on the mainplate, and in this respect Gregory Bruttin shares a story from the development process that provides a fascinating insight into the Roger Dubuis attitude that pervades every aspect of its timepieces. In deciding how to fix the numerals to the mainplate, there was no way that this could be done in a standard manner involving grinding, which would inevitably lead to unacceptable scratches. A unique decision was therefore taken to secure them in place using a movement-making technique, with particularly pleasing results. This kind of choice is especially important in light of the rigorous Poinçon de Genève standards applied by Roger Dubuis to 100% of its production.
Moreover, this latest stellar model features a three-dimensional design effect powerfully embodied in the Excalibur Quatuor model and which is fast becoming another brand signature. The high flange, high appliques and subtly lowered centre create a multi-layered watch face that accentuates its visual appeal.
All in all, the new Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché admirably showcases the way Roger Dubuis works in regard to the technical nature of its movements. While dedicated to perpetuating traditional skills, the Manufacture remains determined not to draw inspiration from others, but instead to pursue its own path that involves respecting tradition while providing contemporary reinterpretations that are firmly in touch with the times.
Mr Roger Dubuis himself, the founder and ‘soulmaker’ of the Manufacture, continues to play a key inspirational role and engages in regular exchanges with Gregory Bruttin and his colleagues on all new developments.
The new guilloché featured on the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché is a case in point, since Roger Dubuis had already used this technique under the aegis of its founder, and the current team were as ever eager to secure his approval.
When the “maestro” himself, known for his demanding standards and keen aesthetic sense,pronounces something “perfect”, one can be pretty sure it is indeed as close as is humanly possible to this much-coveted ideal! It is not for nothing that his signature appears metallised on the sapphire crystal pane fitted into the exhibition case-back.
As befits such a fascinatingly novel expression of exclusivity, excellence and expertise, the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché is offered in four variations, each radiating its own distinctive personality.
Secured to the wrist by an elegant black alligator leather strap, the white gold version exudes an aura of stately, understated elegance with its charcoal grey applied Roman numerals and its charcoal grey flange surrounding a white minute-circle and white gold appliques.
A dazzling 28-piece Boutique Edition in pink gold is topped by a bezel adorned in closed-set baguette-cut diamonds cut in accordance with watchmaking criteria, while the case and lugs are set with baguette-cut diamonds, a theme that continues through to the pink gold adjustable folding buckle of its black alligator leather strap.
On the delightful pink gold non-set variation, the case and numerals are crafted from the same 5N pink gold colour and material, but the former is polished while the latter are satin-brushed, thereby creating a subtle tone-on-tone nuance of shade that is admirably complemented by the warm brown alligator leather strap.
On each of the above three interpretations fitted with rhodium-plated movements, the Manufacture’s decidedly holistic and perfectionist approach is pursued right the way through to the back on which the previous vertical Côtes de Genève have been replaced by a circular Côtes de Genève motif. The latter attractively and subtly echoes the guilloché pattern on the front, while ensuring a smooth and harmonious overall aesthetic.
Last but by no means least is a pink gold interpretation issued in a limited Boutique Edition of 88 that highlights the inestimably precious value of the movement itself by introducing it in pink gold (RD102) to match the case, while the applied Roman numerals appear in charcoal grey to match the shade of the genuine alligator leather strap. On this exclusive version, the back picks up the same sunray guilloché effect characterising the front.