A very rare, unusual and early rose gold limited-edition chronograph wristwatch of the Swiss watch brand Roger Dubuis, founded in 1995 by Roger Dubuis, a Genevan watchmaker, and Carlos Dias, an entrepreneur and designer. Estimated production period: late-1990s. 18k rose gold case of art-deco ‘round-square’ shape, dimensions 37 x 37mm, 10mm thick, light crème coloured dial with applied indexes and Breguet-style Arabic numerals, leaf-shaped hands, laser-engraved brand logo on sapphire glass of a ‘bald’ caseback. Hand-wound caliber RD56, marked by the Poinçon de Genève quality mark, and with ‘Bulletin d’Observatoire’ Besancon Observatory chronometer certificate. Functions – indication of time in hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, chronograph with 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Brown leather strap, 18k rose gold Roger Dubuis double folding clasp. Limited edition of 28 pieces.
Founded in 1995, the Genevan watch brand Roger Dubuis is attracting more and more attention from experts and the collector community alike. The brand was created by its founders to produce high-class watches in line with the traditions of Genevan watchmaking, most convincingly embodied in vintage Patek Phillippe watches. This applied not only to the appearance of the watch, but also to the high-class execution of the movements. The founders had good reasons for choosing such a starting point. Mr. Roger Dubuis himself worked for Patek Phillippe for a long time, and was clearly aware of the most attractive aspects of the heritage of the great brand, which were not always and not fully realized in the current collection of Patek Phillippe. Carlos Diaz, the second founder of the Roger Dubuis brand, also had vast experience working with the historical design heritage of the leading watch brands of the Art Deco era, the 1920s and 1930s, including Rolex, Movado, Hermès, and Cartier, as well as Patek Phillippe. The distinguishing design features of Art Deco-era wristwatches may be found in Franck Muller’s Cintrée Curvex and Long Island watches of the 1990s, created by Carlos Diaz before embarking on the venture with Roger Dubuis.
The brand was created by its founders to produce high-class watches in line with the traditions of Genevan watchmaking, most convincingly embodied in vintage Patek Phillippe watches
This Sympathie Chronographe is characterized by special features that are unique to the watches of the first generation of the Sympathie collection. Firstly, the shape of the case is reproduced in the form of a bezel and a dial, the markings of which also repeat the intricate curves and angles of the case. The watch-crystal has the same shape – this is a very expensive technique; however, it is testament to the brand’s uncompromising attitude to quality. Unfortunately, later, in the early 2000s, Roger Dubuis abandoned the original Sympathie design in favour of one with a round watch-crystal and dial, much simpler to produce. Secondly, it is worth noting the caseback of the present example. Typical for early timepieces, it features a polished peripheral rim and an inner zone decorated with straight grinding, adjacent to a round sapphire crystal, which is decorated with a laser-engraved brand emblem that is hardly visible. The rim of the caseback is devoid of any engraved or stamped inscriptions or emblems, with the hallmarks and manufacturer’s markings stamped on the inside of all four lugs. This modesty may now seem uncharacteristic of the brand, as Roger Dubuis changed style from the early 2000s onwards. The collection is since then much more visually striking and filled with elements. That is why the brand’s early watches command sincere respect from experts and purists.
In addition to its remarkable design, the 37mm Sympathie Chronographe case features an elegantly thin profile – the case is approximately 10mm thick, a rarity for a mechanical chronograph. Of note is the attractive finish with mirror-polishing on the stepped bezel, top of the lugs, crown and working surfaces of the chronograph pushers, while the delicately convex side of the case and lugs show a meticulously executed vertically-directed straight grinding.
The caliber RD56 is built to a high standard, with many technical features close to those of Patek Phillippe, such as the distinctive column wheel cap. The movement is adapted to the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark.
The design of the dial reveals the combination of decorative parts and strict technical markings, which is characteristic of the best chronographs of the Art Deco era, including the famous Patek Phillippe Ref. 130. The gold leaf-shaped hands, complemented by the blued counter’s hands, and applied rose gold Breguet numerals seem to be taken from that epoch, while the tachymeter scale that traces the contours of the bezel seems to be a manifestation of modern tastes. Discussing the design of early Roger Dubuis dials, experts emphasize the highly professional use of fonts in the markup, as well as additional marking of the minutes with golden pearls, all of which contributes greatly to the appeal of the dial and watch in general.
The watch is powered by the сaliber RD56, based on the Nouvelle Lémania 2310 movement-blank. The 2310 was originally developed in 1942 in the Lémania movements factory by Albert-Gustave Piguet as the 27 CHRO C12, commissioned by Omega. Later, in 1949, it was designated by Omega as caliber 321, and used further for the development of the Speedmaster chronograph, commonly known as the “Moon watch”. In the 1980s, this caliber appeared in the high-end chronographs of Breguet. Revived by the Chaumet brothers, the movement-blank was later acquired by Patek Phillippe, who initially used it in perpetual calendars and chronographs, mainly Ref. 3970. Undoubtedly, Mr. Roger Dubuis had gained a lot of experience in working with this movement, which was subsequently applied in the development of his brand’s chronographs and complications created on its base.
The design of the dial reveals the combination of decorative parts and strict technical markings, which is characteristic of the best chronographs of the Art Deco era, including the famous Patek Phillippe Ref. 130.
The caliber RD56 is built to a high standard, with many technical features close to those of Patek Phillippe, such as the distinctive column wheel cap. The movement is adapted to the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. It is believed that the adjustment of the movement for chronometer certification at the Besançon Astronomical Observatory, setting far more exacting standards than a test from the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), was personally done by Mr. Roger Dubuis. This fact is indicated by the “Bulletin d’Observatoire” signature on the dial.
The movement is finished to a high standard with hand finishing of all parts, with the obligatory hallmarks of the Genevan watchmaking tradition imposed by the Poinçon de Genève. This includes a swan-neck micrometer regulator; a Geneva-style fixing part of the spiral; and chamfering, polishing, Côtes de Genève and Perlage for the bridges and mainplate. The steel parts of the chronograph mechanism, as according to tradition, are straight grinded and finely bevelled.
Reasons to bid
The Roger Dubuis Sympathie Chronographe Ref. S37 56 5 Limited Edition is a very rare, unusual and early rose gold limited-edition chronograph wristwatch. It represents the most valuable and highly appreciated early Roger Dubuis heritage, and features a case of an unusual ‘round-square’ design with cushion shape and distinctive sharpened corners, inspired by Art Deco wristwatch design. The high-end RD56 caliber is marked by a Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark and passed chronometric certification in Besançon. That is, in terms of prestige, caliber quality and overall execution, it corresponds to the Patek Phillippe Ref. 5070 chronograph.
*Under the aegis of Maître Marco Breitenmoser, Huissier Judiciaire