Daniel Roth Tourbillon | yellow gold
This manually-wound Daniel Roth Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187 is one of the earliest wristwatches to have left the eponymous brand. Often considered a rite of passage for independent watchmakers looking to prove themselves, this tourbillon certainly showcases Roth's horological ability and aesthetic refinement. Trained at Audemars Piguet and having played a significant role the resuscitation of Breguet, Roth offered a creative take on traditional, Breguet-inspired styling, of which this piece is an enduring testament.
The Story of Daniel Roth
Daniel Roth was born into a family with deep horological roots, with his grandfather and great-grandfather both working as watchmakers in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Following this path, he completed his technical apprenticeship in Nice, before fulfilling his ambition of moving to the Vallée de Joux, one of the world’s watchmaking epicentres. He joined Audemars Piguet at a young age, at a time where he was the only watchmaker who didn’t come from Le Brassus, the brand’s historic home.
Following seven years at Audemars Piguet, Roth was noticed by the Chaumet brothers, the then owners of Breguet. In the midst of the Quartz Crisis, they wanted to restore the brand to its former glory and were looking for a Master Watchmaker who could help. Inspired by the work of the famous watchmaker, Roth agreed to help resuscitate the manufacture, though only after going back to school to further study Breguet’s archives and techniques. Over fourteen years, he would help rebuild the watchmaker, cementing the style, finishing and complications in wristwatch form.
In 1989, Daniel Roth decided to establish his own manufacture. One of the first truly independent watchmakers working under his own name, he created Breguet-inspired pieces, with a twist. He cemented aesthetic codes which are distinctively his own, from the double-ellipse case to the sharply executed pinstripe guilloché dials used on some of his models. Though his output was limited, it was plentiful in its diversity and inventiveness, from tourbillons to chronographs. Daniel Roth was one of the key brand names of independent watchmaking in the 1990s, alongside Franck Muller, Roger Dubuis and Francois-Paul Journe, among others. In 2000, the company was sold to Bulgari, with the watchmaker no longer being involved from that point onwards.
A rite of passage
With a tourbillon, the escapement and balance wheel are mounted within a rotating cage, the purpose of which is to counteract the disruption caused by gravity. This regular rotation is intended to average out any positional errors and maintain greater accuracy. Tackling the complication has become a sort of rite of passage for many independent watchmakers looking to make a name for themselves, with a notable example being François-Paul Journe, who financed the inception of his brand by creating twenty Souscription Tourbillons. The visual appeal of the complication, its storied past and the skill needed to assemble one according to more traditional methods have all contributed to this.
Roth followed a similar path, by offering this distinctive Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187, as one of his earliest watches. The choice seems all the more obvious, when you consider the fact that the complication was first invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795. With a deep-seated respect for the watchmaker, having also been a guiding force behind resuscitating his name in modern times, the tourbillon feels like the truest manifestation of Roth's vision of watchmaking. Nowadays, years after he parted with his own brand, Daniel Roth spends almost all of his time dedicated to making tourbillons under the Jean Daniel Nicolas name.
This manually-wound Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187 is a quintessential execution of the watchmaker’s style, with a twist. Roth takes a historically significant, Breguet invention and transforms it by putting his own innovative expression into the piece. Made out of non-treated white gold, the front dial features a sharply executed Clous de Paris pattern in silvery-grey. This contrasts with the brushed surfaces of the chapter ring with roman numerals and stacked-seconds sector. The contrast in finishing gives a satisfying depth to the design and a welcome touch of variety.
The front dial is signed “DANIEL ROTH” at 8 o’clock and “NUMERO XX” at 4 o’clock, where the watch’s unique number is displayed. The lance-shaped hands, another visual inspiration from the Abraham-Louis Breguet, are rendered in blue steel.
Taking centre stage is the one minute tourbillon, which sits at the 6 o'clock position and at a lower depth to the dial. This showcases the unusual triple-armed seconds hand, where three blued steel hands of varying lengths glide over three different seconds registers. With each register covering a 20-second period, the three hands gradually cover a full minute, with the smallest one starting at the bottom, and the longest one finishing the minute at the top. This represents a novel and visually satisfying method of displaying the seconds, demonstrating Roth's attempt to bring his own take to the traditional complication.
The reverse side of the case features a repeat of the Clous de Paris pattern in silvery-grey. This time, a calendar sub-dial sits in the 12 o'clock position, with the power reserve below this. "Reserve de Marche" is printed in an elegant and sophisticated typeface, with "BAS" and "HAUT" sat on either end, which translates to "Low" and "High" respectively. Both complications feature a blued, baton hand, which echoes the Breguet inspired theme. Crisply printed, "REGULATEUR TOURBILLON" hugs the calendar sub-dial, within a brush-finished cartouche.
The yellow gold double-ellipse case of the Double-Face Tourbillon is unique in its execution. Neither round nor rectangular, it balances the two different shapes, complemented by a stepped bezel and sharp, straight lugs. Measuring 38mm x 35mm in diameter, the watch sits comfortably on the wrist and wears larger than its dimensions would otherwise suggest.
Assembled by hand in the brand’s Vallée de Joux workshop, this Daniel Roth Tourbillon is powered by a reworked Lemania ébauche, which Roth himself developed while still at Breguet. The overall finishing is impressive, with rounded and black polishing on the tourbillon bridge, as well as chamfered edges on the black polished carriage.
This Daniel Roth Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187 comes on a bespoke 20 x 19mm strap, with curved ends, as well as the original crocodile leather strap and yellow gold tang buckle.
Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.
|Model:||Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187|
|Movement:||manual-winding Daniel Roth calibre|
|Functions:||tourbillon, hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve|
|Features:||double-ellipse case, white gold dial|
|Case:||yellow gold 38mm x 35mm|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Strap:||bespoke 20 x 19mm Stockholm strap, original crocodile leather strap, yellow gold tang buckle|
|Box & papers:||-|
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