Many parallels exist between the worlds of racing and haute horlogerie. Motorsport brings together the world’s best engineers and designers with material and aerodynamics specialists. By the same token, masterpieces of watchmaking can only come into being through the collective expertise of numerous different disciplines. Both depend on high-tech materials, world-class engineering and ongoing innovation to achieve the ultimate performance. Joining the high-octane motorsport bandwagon is Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis, a brand that operates on the mantra “dare to be different” and is recognised for its daring, avant-garde watch designs and extreme skeletonisation.
Last year in January, the watchmaker announced its alliance with iconic Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli, the sole supplier of tyres for Formula 1 championship races. A few months later in March at the Geneva Motor Show, another partnership was made official with Lamborghini Squadra Corse, the maker of cutting-edge limited-run supercars and sports cars. Very soon after these announcements, the brand released several new special edition watches such as the Excalibur Spider Pirelli and Excalibur Aventador S.The reason behind these partnerships is obvious. Collaborating with premium motorsport companies allows Roger Dubuis to continue creating exclusive timepieces that demonstrate the combination of excellence with innovation. It’s also a prime opportunity for the Geneva-based company to showcase its watchmaking skills in terms of mechanics, materials and design while still injecting a huge dose of excitement to cater to a new generation of well-heeled millennials.
At SIHH this year, Roger Dubuis proffered four new watches that further the story between the brand and these motorsport heavyweights. First up was the Excalibur Spider Pirelli Automatic Skeleton, now available with deep blue or pristine white accents that reference the colour codes of Pirelli’s Formula 1 racing tyres. The Excalibur Spider Pirelli collection spawned a double flying tourbillon model in 2017.
Excalibur, inspired by the Arthurian legend, is the name given to Roger Dubuis’ renowned collection of men’s and women’s watches that launched in 2015. “Astral skeleton” is another term frequently used to refer to the five-pronged star-shaped bridge on the movement that has become a hallmark of the brand. When coupled with the Spider concept, you’re looking at a watch where skeletonisation has been taken beyond the movement all the way out to the bezel, flange and hands. The Excalibur Spider is the only timepiece on the market that’s 100 per cent skeletonised, from the case to the movement, so you get a spectacular view of the mechanism inside and out.
Like all watches in the Excalibur collection, the Excalibur Spider Pirelli Automatic Skeleton features a bold skeletonised titanium case. Measuring a robust 45mm wide and 14mm thick, it has a distinctive fluted titanium black DLC bezel with tone-on-tone markings, which is complemented by a crown overprinted in official Pirelli blue or white rubber. Hours are pointed out by the tips of the brand’s five-pronged star motif.
Colour is provided by the jewels and the balance. The contrasting blue or white touches perfectly frame the calibre RD820SQ, adding to the visual aesthetics of the automatic movement and its astral skeleton structure. This is the brand’s first automatic skeleton movement with a micro-rotor adjusted to six positions. It has 60 hours of power reserve. Additionally, all 167 parts of the movement are endorsed with the Poinçon de Genève seal, guaranteeing the finest craftsmanship.
A limited edition of an auspicious 88 timepieces, the Excalibur Spider Pirelli Automatic Skeleton is paired with a rugged strap made from black rubber that’s sourced directly from the used tyres of a winning Grand Prix car; it comes complete with Pirelli’s iconic tread pattern on the inlay and a certificate of origin.
Petrolheads know that the Aventador S is one of Lamborghini’s most ferocious supercars. For this partnership, Roger Dubuis added even more colour in the form of an Excalibur Aventador S Blue and an Excalibur Aventador S Pink Gold, launched at the marque’s headquarters in Italy in September 2017. It seems to be a match made in heaven; Roger Dubuis has focused on creating timepieces that are decidedly different in look, materials, engineering and craftsmanship, and that’s similarly true in the world of Lamborghini. Unlike other instances where the extent of a collaboration is the simple slapping-on of a logo or some other superficial cosmetic changes, Roger Dubuis aimed to capture the true spirit of Lamborghini with an entirely new movement – the Duotor calibre RD103SQ – which draws inspiration from the engine bay of the Aventador S.
This new skeletonised movement is regulated by two inclined sprung balances. The double-balance wheels are linked by a miniature version of a car-type differential, which allows pairs of wheels to move at different speeds. The movement is secured by holders inspired by automotive suspension assemblies and the bridge that holds it in place is based on the cross struts found in the car’s engine bay. It also features a deadbeat seconds complication that enables the seconds hand to tick. Taking the inspiration one step further, Roger Dubuis used Lamborghini’s famed carbon composite, known as C-SMC, to create a thin “cover plate” detail that rests over its power reserve mechanism. As such, when viewed from the top, the skeletonised mechanism resembles the Aventador’s
V12 engine.The Excalibur Aventador S Blue, as the name indicates, is decked out in blue and contrasted with red accents. Crafted using the same C-SMC carbon, the 45mm case of the watch bears a titanium mid-case moulded over with blue rubber. Fitted inside the case is the Poinçon de Genève-certified, double-sprung RD103SQ. It has a power reserve of 40 hours and is limited to 88 pieces. The Excalibur Aventador S Pink Gold boasts a more formal look and only 28 pieces are available.