DuBois et fils has made a comeback in recent years under the stewardship of industry veteran Thomas Steinemann who acquired the ailing company in 2010 and revamped the product line-up two years later. It might come as a surprise to many but DuBois et fils stakes claim to having the oldest watch factory in Switzerland, having been founded in 1785 in Le Locle.
The revamped DuBois et fils 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, the company also allows customers to rent a timepiece for three months from the brand’s website. We recently got our hands on the DuBois et fils DBF001-10, a stylish flyback chronograph with a big date complication.
Among the first models launched to mark the brand’s return, this chronograph has a modern 41.5 mm 316L stainless steel case with short sloping lugs that make it wear smaller on the wrist. While the middle case is satin-brushed, the slim fluted bezel and caseback have a polished finish. The mushroom-shaped chronograph pushers have a chevron pattern for better grip. Just like with the Ref. DBF003-07 we reviewed last year, there is a real sense of quality to the construction of the case.
Much of this watch’s appeal lies in its stepped dial. The dark teal dial has a subtle grey tinge that comes to the fore when light falls on it from certain angles. While the center of the dial has a snailed finish, the applied hour markers sit on a guilloche-patterned ring. The striped guilloche lines seem to flow outwards from the center of the dial and lead to the lines of the fluted bezel. A ring (in the same teal blue) on the periphery of the dial holds a printed track with a minutes scale in orange subdivided into fifth-of-a-second graduations.
The big date indication is placed under the brand legend. The chronograph has a tri-compax layout and each subdial has a striking orange chapter ring. The same color is used for the hands in the running seconds subdial at 3 o’ clock, the 12 hour register at 6 and the 30-minute counter at 9. Time is indicated by a set of rhodium-plated hands, the minutes hand is part-skeletonized. The applied numerals and hands are filled with SuperLuminova for optimum visibility. This is a flyback chronograph so the orange central chronograph seconds hand snaps back to zero when reset.
A sapphire window on the steel caseback reveals the watch’s engine, Caliber DD44500. This is a self-winding ETA 2892 movement fitted with a chronograph module by Dubois-Dépraz. The movement has a power reserve of 44 hours and beats at a frequency of 4 Hz (28,800 vph). Caliber DD44500 uses an open-worked rotor and comes with decorative flourishes like perlage and snailing visible through the caseback which is secured by four screws, each resembling the fig tree logo of the brand in relief.
The watch is paired with a dark brown calf-leather strap with orange stitching and a durable rubber lining on the inside. This is a real quality leather strap and is held together by a tang buckle with the brand name embossed on it. The orange accents on the dial, the little details in the case and dial construction, all suggest a quality Swiss timepiece. The DBF001-08 has a very limited run, only 33 pieces and is priced at AED30,530.
While I can't fault the quality of work here — the case, dial, and leather strap are all finished very well, the chronograph pushers are easy to use, and the flyback function of the chronograph seconds hand snaps back to zero instantly — I can completely understand a potential buyer's reluctance to shell out in excess of AED30,000 for a timepiece that frankly has very little brand recall and uses an off-the-peg ETA movement with a chronograph module. If you can ignore that detail, you have yourself a handsome chronograph.
The watch is available at The Watch House (Al Futtaim Watches) boutique at The Dubai Mall.