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 distinctive wristwatches like the Double-Face Tourbillon, as one 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 (LINK) name.
This manually-wound Tourbillon 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.
The dial features a striking skeletonised design, which places the watchmakers' one-minute tourbillon front and center. The time is displayed on a brushed silver chapter, with overlapping silver surfaces which appear to float above the movement. The exposed mechanics display an impressive level of hand-finishing, with vertical brushing, mirror polish and bevelling visible on most of the surfaces. The baseplate features a traditional hand-engraving in a floral pattern, which is subtle and refined. The lance-shaped hands, another visual inspiration from the Abraham-Louis Breguet, are rendered in blue steel, adding a further layer of interest to the dial-side.
The reverse side features a repeat of the hand-engraved pattern. This time, a calendar sub-dial sits in the six o'clock position, with the power reserve above this, with "BAS" and "HAUT", printed in an elegant typeface, sat on either end, which translates to "Low" and "High" respectively. Both complications feature a blued, baton hands, which echoes the Breguet-inspired theme.
The platinum double-ellipse case of the 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 Tourbillon comes on one of our bespoke anthracite grey grained leather straps and platinum Daniel Roth tang buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this watch will be subject to 20% VAT.
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