The origin of Roger Dubuis
Roger Dubuis started his career at Longines, in the late 1950s, where he spent close to a decade in the after-sales department, repairing and caring for the brand's watches, including their prestigious chronographs. Shortly thereafter, he integrated Patek Philippe's complications department, where he has the opportunity to work on gongs, minute repeaters and perpetual calendars, among others. His time there coincided with the production of some of the manufacture's most sought-after, complicated models - from the ref. 2499 to the ref. 3448 - which Dubuis himself had the opportunity to work on.
Dubuis' enthusiasm for watchmaking was such that, when he had finished working a full day at the atelier, he would go home and work on repairing watches for private clients, auction houses and dealers around Geneva. In the '80s, he left Patek Philippe to establish his own workshop, dedicating himself fully to the restoration of pieces from the past. In 1995, following a partnership with businessman Carlos Dias, he would establish his own eponymous brand.
The first Roger Dubuis watches were acclaimed by collectors because they channelled the traditional Geneva watchmaking that Patek Philippe embodied, while having more stylistic flair. Dubuis' attempt to rival Patek Philippe themselves was obvious in some of his choices, from seeking the Geneva Seal for his movements to designing deployante buckles. In particular, the Hommage watches, as the name suggests, were designed as a homage to the great watchmakers of old, according to Mr Dubuis. In 2003, after only eight years, Roger Dubuis himself left his eponymous brand. Though his output in the earliest days of the brand was limited, the design and quality of the pieces he produced have stood the test of time.
A Classic Design
Roger Dubuis mainly produced Hommage Chronographs in three different sizes: 34, 37 and 40mm. It is understood that each variant of the Hommage series was limited to 28 pieces. According to Dias, the initial intention was actually to limit each series to 25, but following the suggestion of a collector based in Asia, where the number 8 is considered to bring good luck, Dias decided to limit each series to 28 instead. From that point onwards, that same collector was attributed number "1/28" for many of the following pieces.
This H37 560 has the design of a two-register chronograph, with an ivory-tone dial that provides an excellent contrast against the tachymeter markings, which are printed in black. The 12, 5, 6, and 7 o’clock markers are applied Breguet-style Arabic numerals, while the other hours are denoted by applied index markers in the shape of diamonds, and are slightly raised, providing a welcome contrast to the rest of the dial.
The feuille-style hour and minute hands are rendered in white gold, with a blued seconds hand giving a touch of colour to the otherwise monochromatic dial. The seconds and minutes subdials are symmetrically placed on the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, with white gold and blued hands on each respective dial. Both sub-dials are very slightly recessed, adding further depth to the watch face.
The highly versatile white gold case is very distinct with its polished, stepped concave bezel and brushed concave lugs. The three-piece case construction gives the watch a larger presence on the wrist than the 37mm case would normally suggest. The combination of white metal and light coloured dial help make this particular watch perhaps one of the more contemporary configurations of H37, attuned to modern taste.
The pushers feature a flared finish, reminiscent of the design found on the Patek Philippe ref. 1463 "Tasti Tondi", another subtle hommage to the manufacture. In a continuation of this theme, this Hommage Chronograph also features a white gold deployante clasp, similar to those produced by Patek Philippe at the time.
The watch is powered by the Calibre RD 56, based on the Lemania 2310, much like the Patek Philippe ref. 5070. The movement bears the Seal of Geneva and was regulated by Roger Dubuis himself. At the time of production, it was only Patek Philippe movements that carried the Geneva Seal, hence why Dubuis felt that it was crucial to have the same hallmark of quality. The seal focuses on the art of decorating a movement with finesse and skill, in the style of Genevan watchmaking.
The complexity of the movement is revealed through an engraved sapphire case-back, featuring a 21 jewel, straight-line lever escapement, a monometallic balance adjusted to 5 positions, a self-compensating Breguet spring and swan-neck micrometer regulator. As indicated by the "Bulletin d'Observatoire" signature on the dial, this movement was tested for accuracy at the Besançon Observatory, setting far more exacting standards than a test from the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC).
This Roger Dubuis H37 560 is accompanied by its inner box, outer box, hangtag, leather folio, Geneva Seal Certificate, Besançon Observatory Certificate and Roger Dubuis Certificate of Origin and Warranty. It comes attached to a bespoke taupe strap in grained calfskin and includes the Roger Dubuis black alligator strap and white gold tang buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Roger Dubuis H37 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.