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.
This time-only piece is perhaps the purest incarnation of the Hommage concept, paring it back to its most essential components. As the name suggests, the Hommage pieces were designed as a homage to the great watchmakers of the past, according to Dubuis himself. In practice, this meant classic, vintage-leaning designs, combined with refined mechanical movements. This piece is a perfect execution of the concept, with its 37mm rose gold case and subtle details.
It features a glossy white dial, with applied Breguet numerals. This style of numerals first appeared just before the French Revolution, when Abraham-Louis Breguet helped to cement the style. Since then, these cursive numerals have been used on a range of prestigious timepieces, though they've become most associated with vintage watches from Patek Philippe. The printed minute track and rose gold applied numerals form an appealing contrast against the lacquered white surface, helping with overall legibility. The dauphine hands are sharply finished, with the two different portions of the hand reflecting the light in different ways.
The case is subtle and discrete, with its finely polished bezel and lugs, contrasting with a delicately brushed mid-case, a subtle nod to vintage dress watches from the past. Though this piece is fitted with a sapphire crystal, it is also accompanied by an additional closed caseback, which features fine perlage on the inside.
The watch is powered by the Calibre RD 57, based on a Lemania 8810 ébauche. One of the highest quality base automatic movements available at the time, the Lemania 8810 was also used for the brand's perpetual calendar, as well as being integrated by other watchmakers of the time, such as Daniel Roth.
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 movement is revealed through an engraved sapphire case-back, featuring a 25-jewel, a monometallic balance adjusted to 5 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 watch is accompanied by its outer box, inner leather box, two hangtags, an additional solid caseback, a leather pouch for paperwork, the Origin and Warranty Certificate, the Bulletin de Marche from the Besançon Observatory and the Geneva Seal Certificate of Origin. It comes on a custom-made brown grained leather strap, and is also accompanied by its original brown alligator Roger Dubuis strap and rose gold tang buckle.
To find out more about the earliest days of the watchmaker, you can read our article on The Story of early Roger Dubuis.