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
This Hommage Chronograph H40 combines a range of attractive features, such as the distinctive rose gold case, contrasting white dial and applied Breguet numerals. Traditionally, it is understood that each variant of the Hommage series was limited to 28 pieces. According to Dias, the initial intention was actually limit each series to 25. 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.
The design is that of a two-register chronograph, with a crisp white dial and applied Breguet numerals. The unusual curved Breguet numerals are a nod to vintage chronographs from the past, notably the most desirable iterations from Patek Philippe. Each faceted 5 minute indices and applied one minute markers are finely polished, complimenting the case metal and Breguet numerals effectively. The central feuille minute and hour hands match the subsidiary seconds subdial hand in rose gold, whilst the central chronograph hand and minute chronograph subdial hand are in blued steel, further enhancing the vintage appeal.
The case is very distinct with its polished, stepped concave bezel and polished lugs. The three-piece construction gives the watch a bold presence on the wrist, measuring 40mm in diameter. Pushers at 2 and 4 o'clock are used to start, stop and reset the chronograph function respectively. 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 where Roger Dubuis spent many years.
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 Roger 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 five positions, a self-compensating Breguet spring and a 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 Hommage Chronograph H40 is accompanied by its outer box and inner wooden box. It comes on one of our grained Zürich straps in taupe and comes with its corresponding rose gold Roger Dubuis deployante buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Roger Dubuis H40 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.
To find out more about the earliest days of the watchmaker, you can read our article on The Story of early Roger Dubuis.