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.
Bi-Retrograde Perpetual Calendar
According to Mr Dubuis himself, he starting working on his first complication in the late 1980s - a perpetual calendar module with retrograde displays. For several years, Roger Dubuis worked on the complication with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht (founder of respective complications specialist Agenhor), for Harry Winston, who announced their own version of the Bi-Retrograde Perpetual Calendar at Baselworld, in 1989. It was the first double retrograde perpetual calendar, and Roger Dubuis later made the same perpetual module the signature complication of his brand. The Bi-Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is one of the quintessential Roger Dubuis watches of the era, powered by the Lemania cal. 2310 (as with Patek Philippe’s version of the same, except the Roger Dubuis is bi-retrograde).
A Classic Design
This Hommage Bi-Retrograde Perpetual Calendar Chronograph combines a range of attractive features, such as the distinctive rose gold case and crisp white dial, integrating the various complications found within the movement. 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 an off-white, lacquer dial. It’s painted with black, stylised fonts and red minute markers, which add a nice contrast against the dial. The minute and hour hands are faceted rose gold, with blued chronograph, 30-minute counter and skeletonised date hands. Two ‘arcs’ are visible on the dial at 3 and 9 o’clock, showing the day and date, respectively. The months at 12 o'clock are separated into quarters to indicate the leap year cycle.
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, though classically sized at 37mm 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 Cal. RD 5632 (based on the Lemania 2310), bearing the Seal of Geneva. The complexity of the movement is revealed through an engraved sapphire case-back, featuring a 25 jewel, straight-line lever escapement, a monometallic balance adjusted to 5 positions, a self-compensating Breguet spring and swan-neck micrometer regulator.
This Roger Dubuis Hommage Bi-Retrograde Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is accompanied by its original outer box, inner wooden box, leather document holder, certificate from the Besançon Observatory, Geneva Seal certificate, hangtags, spare solid caseback and Certificate of Origin and Warranty (with corresponding case and movement numbers, as well as an image of the watch). It comes on a bespoke strap in anthracite grey and includes the original Roger Dubuis alligator strap and its corresponding rose gold deployant buckle.