DuBois et fils stakes claim to the oldest watch factory in Switzerland. Founded in 1785 at Le Locle, the brand was all set to fade into oblivion but for industry veteran Thomas Steinemann who acquired it in 2010 and relaunched it with a fresh new line-up two years later.
The revamped product line featured new branding and logo and DuBois et fils now only produces mechanical watches in limited editions (not more than 99 of each reference) to emphasize Steinemann’s vision of the “new luxury”. In keeping with the rental economy zeitgeist, in its second coming, DuBois et fils allows customers to rent out a timepiece for three months. For as little as $150, clients can rent a watch from the brand’s website.
We got our hands on a DBF003-07 model, one of the five models in the product line-up today. A vintage-style timepiece with a big date complication, this watch is a striking presence on the wrist with its British Racing Green lacquer dial and dark brown calf leather strap.
The tripartite case is made from 316L stainless steel; the middle case which extends to the stubby lugs features a satin-brushed finish with beveled and polished edges. The stepped bezel is polished too and is fitted with a domed sapphire crystal. The knurled crown tapers ever so slightly and has the brand’s fir tree emblem in relief. The limited edition number is engraved on the caseback and the fir tree logo makes an appearance again, this time in the form of four screwheads used to secure the caseback.
This is a well-made case with plenty of attention to detail. The interplay of light thanks to the mix of brushed and polished surfaces lends it an easy sophistication. Despite the case being a modern 40 mm in width, it wears much smaller on the wrist thanks to the stepped bezel.
The dial of the DBF003-07 is curved too and features a striking British Racing Green lacquer coat. It uses a mix of applied rhodium-plated indices and bold numerals for easy legibility. At 6 0’ clock sits a black snailed small seconds subdial outlined with a silver ring with five-second demarcations and the fir tree symbol. Slender rhodium-plated hands filled with SuperLuminova indicate time, I liked how the semi-skeletonized minutes hand extends all the way up to the minutes ring.
The most important feature of the dial is the big date window just below 12 o’ clock. Twin apertures display the date – white numerals set against a black background. The flange of the dial features a striped guilloche pattern. Again, just like the case, there’s plenty to like about the dial and I’m not just talking about the striking lacquer finish.
But I’m going to nitpick and mention here that the numerals on the date display don’t always look like they are aligned. Maybe this is a design quirk, almost like a design imperfection that was left in. Also, unlike the big date display in a more technically superior timepiece like the Lange 1 where the date change is instantaneous, the date discs are on the move much before midnight. But given the price point, this is understandable.
Caliber DD14000 is an ETA 2892 movement fitted with a Dubois-Dépraz 14000 module for the small seconds and big date indication and serves as the beating heart of the DBF0003-07. The movement, visible through the caseback, features decorative flourishes like perlage and an open-worked rotor that is nickel-plated and features a vertical brushed pattern. This is a 4 Hz movement and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
The watch is fitted with a well-crafted dark brown calf leather strap with a rubber lining. The brand has nailed the color combination here – the dark brown trap perfectly complements the rich green hue of the dial. The leather strap, fitted with a brushed tang buckle and a flat pin, is supple and wraps around the wrist comfortably.
It’s easy to like the DBF003-07; it’s rakishly good looking with a well-crafted case and leather strap. The dial design is quirky, the green lacquer dial is well executed and despite the minor quibbles, this is an interesting timepiece from a small, independent brand eager to reestablish itself in the industry. The DBF003-07 is a limited edition of 99 pieces and is priced at CHF4,950 ($5,245).