For a long time, the Roger Dubuis name was thought to be over and irrelevant to collectors. With Dubuis watches of today having garish designs and proportions that are all wrong, it is no wonder why. The truth is, Roger Dubuis, the man, left the company in 2005 and while he was undoubtedly a brilliant watchmaker, he lacked business expertise.
It is this, and not his watchmaking skills, that caused the brand to be what it is today- devoid of emotion and controlled by business executives with no passion. You see, underneath this sheath of failure lies some of the most beautiful watches ever made. Early Roger Dubuis watches are nothing like what they are today- elegant in their design and finished to the highest standards, these watches rivaled and even bettered contemporaries such as Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. In fact, collectors have finally started to realize this and as a result, prices have been skyrocketing.
An independent brand with aspiration, I have no doubt that today’s indies have Dubuis and other pioneers of his time to thank for laying out the groundwork. Roger Dubuis formed his eponymous brand in 1995 after two decades at Patek Philippe and at the time, it not only took huge courage to start an independent brand but Dubuis had to also operate in an area that wasn’t as mainstream as it is today.
There were two main lines that Dubuis produced- the Homage series, which were more traditional round cased watches, and what you see here today- the Sympathie series. Featuring a more experimental case design, this is the most iconic Dubuis shape with an amorphous and angular shape.
Constructed of 18kt rose gold, the Sympathies 37mm case is a feast for the eyes. Featuring a vertical satin grain on the caseband and lug profiles with a contrasting high polish on the bezel, thick fixing screws, and lug hoods, the Sympathie is a finely executed timepiece with appreciable attention to detail. Asides from its case, the Sympathies dial also stands out as a unique piece of design. Featuring a tri-tone design, the dial has applied gold Breguet style hour markers and an orange seconds track along its periphery sitting atop a shiny gloss black dial. With rose gold dauphine hands, the dial set up perfectly matches the Sympathies rose gold case, black leather strap, and distinctive rose gold pin buckle.
I must say that this is one of the most beautiful dials I’ve seen in a while and when it first came to me I was amazed. The way the light reflects off the dial is reminiscent of vintage gilt gloss dials and the oversized applied Breguet numerals are so distinctive that you can’t help but to keep staring at your wrist.
Powered by the automatic Roger Dubuis Cal. RD57, the Sympathie is as elegantly equipped within its case, as it is visually appealing from the outside. On display behind its sapphire crystal caseback, the RD57 is a finely finished piece of horology including black polished screws and swan's neck regulator, gorgeous côtes de Geneve motif, and mirrored chamfering throughout. As referenced by the dial signature "Bulletin D'Observatoire", a Besançon Observatory chronometer certificate from the French capital of watchmaking certifies the accuracy of this movement and goes to substantiate the level of quality on display by these early Roger Dubuis timepieces.
Each Roger Dubuis model from his time was made in limited editions of 28, making this example extremely special and rare.