hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with hand-made guilloché a stunning contemporary interpretation of a time-honoured decorative skill
This new masterpiece of the Hommage collection highlights the traditional art of guilloché embodying an audacious combination of traditional and modern craftsmanship.
By introducing the first Hommage models in 1995, Mr Roger Dubuis was paying a glowing tribute to his forefathers in the watchmaking field as well as to horological traditions in the broadest sense of the term. When it came time to create the exceptional Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché, Gregory Bruttin and the R&D department that he heads opted for a deliberately simple display. Adopting a pared- down design made it possible to tailor the movement even more closely to the intrinsically traditional nature of the Hommage collection, while also providing even more space in which to offer a contemporary aesthetic interpretation.
The result of these deliberations was the RD100, a new movement composed of 452 individually hand-finished parts, endowed with a 50-hour power reserve and which called for 1,200 hours of manufacturing – of which 360 are devoted to meeting the Poinçon de Genève criteria – as well as six full weeks of controls. Such an accomplished mechanism naturally deserved to be showcased to its full advantage. The new Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché achieves exactly that in a spectacular new demonstration of Roger Dubuis’ equally intense concern for the inner and outer beauty of its models. Endowed with historical design codes including long slender lugs, a concave bezel, large Roman numerals, a fluted crown and a distinctive folding clasp, it also features a range of subtle new touches.
Doubtless the most striking aspect of the new Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon – and the one that immediately catches and holds the gaze – is the highly original guilloché work on the front. This intricate technical and decorative technique creates a unique, delicate and precise sunburst effect that cannot fail to appeal and intrigue
Hand-guilloché techniques in particular convey a unique prestige, applied using age-old straight-line or rose engines turned or operated by artisans and thus in fact mere tools assisting the latter in their delicate task entirely guided by personal skill, experience and intuition. The beauty of the motifs thus created depends on the artisan’s aesthetic flair and dexterity, since the success of their endeavours is determined by a number of factors including speed, pressure and accurate positioning.
Recalling that the lines composing the patterns measure a mere hundredths of a millimetre (0.05 to 0.1 mm) deep gives a clearer idea of the hair’s breadth precision required to achieve an attractive final result. This is also precisely why the guilloché motifs hollowed out by the graver will never be identical on two given parts – a fact that in turns explains the unique and exceptional nature of each watch with a hand-guilloché dial.
Traditional guilloché work almost invariably involves crémage (literally ‘creaming’) with wet talcum powder so as to create a ground-down finish rather than a polished effect. This serves as a means of concealing the inevitable tiny micro-scratches created by the guilloché artisan in the direction of the grooves. As Gregory Bruttin explains, in reflecting on a potentially different technique, the idea was to remain in harmony with the genetic heritage of the Manufacture. Just as the Roger Dubuis approach to openworked or skeletonised movements is characterised by taut, dynamic straight lines rather than elaborate curves, here too the team was keen to create a resolutely modern take on a traditional craft. As often seems to occur when the Roger Dubuis R&D department decides to attempt an apparently risky and daring experiment, it turned out that simply skipping the crémage step enabled the light to play over the facets of the guilloché work and thus accentuate its dramatic visual impact.
The complementary decision to add a small bridge lends a further intriguing aesthetic touch, but nonetheless entailed its own difficulties, including ensuring a smooth, flawless transition. Separately guilloché working the two parts by hand meant that any unsightly scratches on the bridge would mean discarding both elements.
The hollowed guilloché work on this model also stands out by its impressive depth, exquisitely manually crafted by passing the tool across each notch or groove at least four times instead of the usual one or two! The size of each must be carefully balanced so as to ensure an harmonious appearance and the resulting 3D effect is indeed truly striking. The refinement of the traditionally guilloché bridges, associated with the contemporary mechanical beauty of the Roger Dubuis double flying tourbillon with differential ensuring enhanced precision, creates an aesthetic contrast representing an endless source of fascination. Catching and holding the light playing across the extremely accurate grooves, this pattern is also a nod to one of the Roger Dubuis signature features: namely lines converging towards the centre typified by the radiating layout of the numerals. The entire process requires a blend of extreme artistic sensitivity and manual dexterity, a winning combination faithfully cultivated at Roger Dubuis and which is given magnificent scope for expression on this stunning model.
Perhaps most crucially of all, the use of this hand-guilloché technique ensures that each dial is truly one of a kind, because the motifs hollowed out will never be entirely identical. Each wearer of such a timepiece can thereby enjoy the assurance of owning a truly unique object.
Moreover, this latest stellar model features a three-dimensional design effect powerfully embodied in the Excalibur Quatuor model and which is fast becoming another brand signature. The high flange, high appliques and subtly lowered centre create a multi-layered watch face that accentuates its visual appeal.
Mr Roger Dubuis himself, the founder and ‘soulmaker’ of the Manufacture, continues to play a key inspirational role and engages in regular exchanges with Gregory Bruttin and his colleagues on all new developments. The new guilloché featured on the Hommage Double Flying Tourbillon with Hand-made guilloché is a case in point, since Roger Dubuis had already used this technique under the aegis of its founder, and the current team were as ever eager to secure his approval.
When the “maestro” himself, known for his demanding standards and keen aesthetic sense, pronounces something “perfect”, one can be pretty sure it is indeed as close as is humanly possible to this much-coveted ideal! It is not for nothing that his signature appears metallised on the sapphire crystal pane fitted into the exhibition case-back.
A dazzling 28-piece Boutique Edition in pink gold is topped by a bezel adorned in closed-set baguette-cut diamonds cut in accordance with watchmaking criteria, while the case and lugs are set with baguette-cut diamonds, a theme that continues through to the pink gold adjustable folding buckle of its black alligator leather strap.
On the delightful pink gold non-set variation, the case and numerals are crafted from the same 5N pink gold colour and material, but the former is polished while the latter are satin-brushed, thereby creating a subtle tone-on-tone nuance of shade that is admirably complemented by the warm brown alligator leather strap. On each of the above three interpretations fitted with rhodium-plated movements, the Manufacture’s decidedly holistic and perfectionist approach is pursued right the way through to the back on which the previous vertical Côtes de Genève have been replaced by a circular Côtes de Genève motif. The latter attractively and subtly echoes the guilloché pattern on the front, while ensuring a smooth and harmonious overall aesthetic.
Last but by no means least is a pink gold interpretation issued in a limited Boutique Edition of 88 that highlights the inestimably precious value of the movement itself by introducing it in pink gold (RD102) to match the case, while the applied Roman numerals appear in charcoal grey to match the shade of the genuine alligator leather strap. On this exclusive version, the back picks up the same sunray guilloché effect characterising the front.