In the 15 years since its launch, Roger Dubuis’s Excalibur model — with its extroverted design and characteristic oversized cases in exotic materials — has become the brand’s calling card. Driven by a belief that there is increasing demand for more “expressive and contemporary” timepieces, Roger Dubuis has strived to impress haute horology enthusiasts with their disruptive watchmaking skills.
The Swiss brand has used the Excalibur as their favorite platform of expression and display their watchmaking prowess. From the creation of contemporary skeletonized movements to incorporating two double flying tourbillons, from engineering a movement with four balance springs to presenting a modern minute repeater tourbillon — the maison has a whopping 33 exclusive in-house mechanical calibers to its credit. This is impressive when you take into account the fact that the company was formed only in 1995. The Excalibur family was first launched in 2005 with the launch of two haute horology calibers – a double tourbillon skeleton (RD01SQ) and a minute repeater tourbillon (RD08) which was an automatic movement equipped with the double micro-rotor in platinum.
However, it’s not been about wildly expressive haute horology complications alone, the Excalibur range has also done well to focus on more on material innovations and movement construction too. Despite their contemporary architecture, the movements are finished to an obsessive level of detail and carry the prestigious Geneva Seal. After impressing with their skeletonized movements, the brand introduced skeletonized cases as well with the Excalibur Spider range. In 2017, the Excalibur Spider Carbon was the first mechanical wristwatch with not only its case, but also its movement plate, bridges, and tourbillon upper cage made entirely of carbon. Roger Dubuis also forged partnerships with brands like Lamborghini Squadra Corse and Pirelli to produce an exciting range of flamboyant sports watches.
To tell us more about the model’s evolution, we spoke with Gregory Bruttin, product strategy director at Manufacture Roger Dubuis.
The Excalibur is instantly recognizable as a Roger Dubuis creation. If you had to pick one particular model as the quintessential Excalibur model, which one would it be?
The double tourbillon and the minute repeater are two important products for the Excalibur line, as these are the two movements we have used since the launch of the collection. They have contributed to the history and success of this line.
In the 15 years since it has been around, how do you think the Excalibur’s success has changed Roger Dubuis? Why did the brand focus so heavily on the Excalibur?
The Excalibur has many specificities that have made it an iconic product. It is very recognizable with its three lugs and its fluted bezel, and has the particularity of having a large dial opening, which gives space to express all our creativity. These characteristics pushed us to exploit the space that was available to us in terms of opening and height. This, as well as our mastery of the decorations (due to the mastery of the Geneva Seal) which naturally pushed us towards the skeletonization of our movements, then the skeletonization of the case with the arrival of the Excalibur Spider.
What made the Excalibur such a hit with watch collectors?
The Excalibur is a relatively recent product, dating only back to 2005, which is very young for a watch product line. It responds to the watchmaking code but brings a difference and touch of modernity in a world that relies mainly on models dating back to the 80s at best. In 2005, launching a 45 mm watch was something daring and pioneering. Linking it with an innovative double tourbillon movement and a traditional minute repeater made it possible to meet the needs of collectors looking for a different kind of watchmaking. The ability to surprise with innovative movements such as the perpetual calendar, the quartet as well as our philosophy of limited series, very important for Mr. Dubuis himself, also contributed to give legitimacy to this product line.
Given the changes the industry is going through, what does Roger Dubuis have to do keep the Excalibur relevant for the next 15 years.
We have no choice; we must continuously renew ourselves, both technically and aesthetically. For us, nothing is ever taken for granted. We must always question ourselves to push our products further. We have integrated this approach thanks to our partner Lamborghini Squadra Corse. Every time a car brand comes back with a new model, it often has the same name and the same ingredients in terms of design and dimension, but technologically it is very new. We have added many improvements for the customer – more power reserve, a possibility to change the wristband quickly and better reliability. On the other hand, we have countless projects and ideas that we want to continue reinterpreting traditional complications, and in a much more contemporary way. To do this, 15 years will certainly not be enough.
The Excalibur has introduced many firsts to the industry in 15 years. Which on are you most proud of?
The road traveled ... starting from scratch and building a brand is something extraordinary. Mr. Dubuis was very proud that we have not lost the initial philosophy he instilled in the creation of the brand: to be innovative while respecting the watchmaking tradition. And this philosophy continues to animate us on a daily basis. The product I am most proud of is our next launch. It’s incredible – stay tuned!
How did your partnerships with Lamborghini Squadra Corse and Pirelli impact your innovation in materials?
When you meet only watchmakers, you live in a microcosm where everyone lives the same thing. This also means doing same thing, and that’s where dogma appears. Partnerships are extraordinary. You rub shoulders with people who know absolutely nothing about your field, so you are asked novice questions, which can sometimes profoundly challenge you and chase away dogmas. This is extremely beneficial.
The partnership with Lamborghini Squadra Corse helped us a lot in terms of materials, especially with carbon. It allowed us to select the best carbon for each of our applications, and to use it inside the movement, to improve the resistance of our gearboxes as well as many other things. In terms of design, our Lamborghini partnership has also allowed us to work with tighter and more elaborate lines, which are common in the automotive industry, as well as unusual color combinations in watchmaking. The Huracan STO that we are currently launching is a perfect example of this. We have also benefited from the experience of Pirelli in developing new and innovative rubber.
This leads us to the newly launched Excalibur Spider Huracán STO, can you tell us more about it?
The STO was a very interesting exercise for us. Early stages involved spending time with the Lamborghini Squadra Corse team to identify the elements that were important to use, in terms of design, color mixes and materials. The tip of the watch is naturally made of carbon with some titanium elements just like the car. And we subtly used colors to match the design of the watch with the car as much as possible. It is a subtle work to have the right balance between the different colors, so that none dominates the others. Today, the result is particularly convincing, and we are particularly proud of it