What makes some timepieces mere instruments for telling time and others precious watches?
Some watchmakers might say it is “the experience” they bring to the wearer, along with their materials, design and craftsmanship.
Critics might call this description a marketing jargon, but at least one Roger Dubuis collection was born from personal experience.
In 2016, the maison’s CEO, Jean-Marc Pontroué, was invited by Pirelli to watch the Monaco Grand Prix from the Italian tyremaker’s trackside VIP area.
Watching the pit-stop action, Pontroué asked his host what would happen to the racing cars’ used tyres.
That discussion soon led to two limited-edition models from Roger Dubuis’ skeletonised Excalibur Spider range in the following year: the 47mm Double Flying Tourbillon, available in eight pieces, and the 45mm Automatic Skeleton, in 88 pieces.
The watches’ straps were made from the tyres from Lewis Hamilton’s Grand Prix-winning Mercedes AMG F1 racing car. The watches were later delivered at the 2017 Austin Grand Prix.
Their straps’ texture and colour echoed the watches’ black titanium DLC case and carbon components, while the Roger Dubuis-Pirelli brand collaboration reaffirmed the synergy between motoring and watchmaking.
That partnership eventually led Roger Dubuis to Lamborghini, and a brand collaboration on the Aventador S watch by Roger Dubuis, unveiled last September.
The timepiece features an all-new RD103SQ calibre that was inspired by the Lamborghini V12 engines in the Aventador S and the new Huracàn Super Trofeo EVO.
It also has the maison’s first deadbeat seconds complication.
This watch is also equipped with the Duotor system, which has two balance wheels connected at a centre differential and slanted 45 degrees from vertical, forming axes of rotation perpendicular to one other.
This build results in a 2 x hz frequency for better resistance to gravity effects. Roger Dubuis continued its collaboration with Lamborghini at this year’s SIHH with the 45mm Excalibur Aventador S Blue.
The maison also presented the Excalibur Adventador S Pink Gold, which was crafted from the same C-SMC carbon used in Lamborghini cars, and with a limited production of eight pieces, like the 2017 “Arancio Argos”. The two luxury brands share many characteristics, Pontroué says. “Many of our clients drive Lamborghinis, and many of the Lamborghini customers also know Roger Dubuis,” he says. Both brands also guard their exclusivity: Lamborghini caps its supercar production at 3,500 units a year while Roger Dubuis limits its output to 4,000 watches, about 60-65 per cent of which are limited-edition timepieces. In a continued nod to Pirelli as the exclusive tyre supplier for the Formula One Championship, Roger Dubuis has expanded the Excalibur Spider Pirelli collection with the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Automatic Pirelli in black titanium and a choice of deep blue or pristine white accents.
The most intriguing detail of this watch is, naturally, the strap. However, the tyres that will provide the strap’s material will not be known until the winner of this year’s Monaco Grand Prix is announced, at about 4.30pm local time on May 27.
The Excalibur Spider is the only timepiece on the market that is completely skeletonised from the case to the movement.
This model is also powered by the RD820SQ and highlighted by an astral skeleton structure and a micro-rotor. Such mechanics offer an intriguing view of the mechanism.
Roger Dubuis will again make 88 of these watches and authorised dealers will have 60 days to sell them.
After that, brand-new pieces from this collection will no longer be on the market.