By Kevin Cureau
Being a fairly young member of the watch industry, my first encounter with the brand Roger Dubuis was with the maison’s modern offering of timepieces. More specifically, I remember being amazed by the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Knights of the Round Table II from 2015, and the craftsmanship used to finely create each individual knight to replace the hour markers. That is also when I discovered and learned about the prestigious Poinçon de Genève (Hallmark of Geneva) stamp that adorns so many of the brand’s timepieces.
If we dig back into the brand’s history though, far and away from the anti-conformist, large and bold watches which occupy today’s Roger Dubuis catalogue, we find what collectors are referring to as the “early Roger Dubuis” timepieces. Roger Dubuis, the man, famously worked at Patek Philippe for two decades building a reputation as one the finest watchmakers around working on high complications. Spending time at the prestigious manufacturer has undoubtedly left a big impression on Mr. Dubuis, and the styling and aesthetics from Patek Philippe could clearly be visible on his watches when Roger Dubuis launched his eponymous brand in 1995.
The early Roger Dubuis timepieces are separated into two main collections: the Hommage and Sympathie, and while most of the collectors’ interests surrounding this early watches revolve around the chronograph models, the two series were also available with time-only and perpetual calendar options, always in precious metals. The attraction of these earlier timepieces from the brand resides also in the extremely low production numbers. It is said that only 28 pieces of each type of early Roger Dubuis watches were produced, and very few have come out publicly for sale.
This season, Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, is pleased to offer 4 early Roger Dubuis watches from our Retrospective and Hong Kong sale: 2 Hommage and 2 Sympathie, each model in a chronograph or perpetual calendar variation.
Retrospective: 2000 - 2020 — Lot 212 - Roger Dubuis Hommage H40 single button chronograph in pink gold
The two-register chronographs from Roger Dubuis are the most sought-after examples of these early Roger Dubuis timepieces. The H40, which refers to the 40mm case size of the watch, was produced in a series of 28 pieces and is a sight to behold and displays incredible details that would impress even the most fastidious watch purist.
The movement is based on the Lemania 2310 ébauche and proudly displays the Geneva seal - an exceptional feat for a small, at the time independent watchmaker. On top of that, it was certified by the Besançon Observatory.
The dial itself is arguably the star of the show. Displaying Breguet numerals, feuille hands and a grené black dial, it is reminiscent of the vintage chronographs in the past, while displaying its own aesthetic flourishes.
HKWA: XI — Lot 889 - Roger Dubuis Sympathie chronograph in pink gold with pulsations scale
The second early Roger Dubuis chronograph on offer comes in the form of a 37mm Sympathie case. Compared to the Hommage, which is a more classic look, the Sympathie case provides an angular square design and elongated lugs giving the watch a unique and recognizable shape.
The present example Roger Dubuis Sympathie is encased in 18K pink gold and features a rather rare two tone sector dial with “salmon” outer track and registers. Instead of the more common tachymetre scale, we find here a purposeful pulsations scale which is a lesser seen variation of these early Roger Dubuis timepieces.
Furthermore, it is powered by the famous Lemania 2310 based cal. RD56, which is regarded as one of the most important chronograph calibers of the era, famously used also by Patek Philippe.
HKWA: XI — Lot 1042 - Roger Dubuis Hommage Perpetual Calendar in white gold
Moving away from the chronographs, we enter the first of two Roger Dubuis perpetual calendars offered this season.
The present lot is a Roger Dubuis Hommage Quantième Perpetuel in a classic round-shaped 37mm 18K white gold case. The watch features an ivory hued glossy dial with visual aesthetics that are kept very traditional.
What is even rarer here is the fact that the present example comes complete with its full set of accessories including the original certificate. This is very much a unique insight into what Mr. Dubuis wanted to do with his watches and the attention to details he brought to his brand, down to the folding clasp as well as the original additional solid caseback included in the set.
HKWA: XI — Lot 890 - Roger Dubuis Sympathie Perpetual Calendar in pink gold
Last but certainly not least, we take a look at the Roger Dubuis Symphathie Quantième Perpetuel in a 37mm 18K pink gold case and numbered 3 of 28 pieces.
This watch belongs to an early example of the model featuring a perpetual calendar complication with moon phases and leap year indication. This harmonious and well-executed, early Roger Dubuis timepiece is chronometer certified to Bulletin D’Observatoire standards and further stamped by the Geneva seal. Compared to the Hommage case, you could say that the square shape of the Sympathie case helps balance out the dial layout of the perpetual calendar indications.
The attraction here again comes from the present lot being offered with its full set of accessories, which is certainly rare.