By Jack Forster
Roger Dubuis has just shared with us the beginning of a most interesting project and one that will undoubtedly attract a good deal of attention, as well as, perhaps, a bit of controversy. This is the Hommage Millésime project. The name means, approximately, Vintage Homage, and the idea is to take very high grade and complicated movement ébauches – generally from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when classical watch construction and finishing techniques really reached their pinnacle before beginning to be supplanted by machine and automated manufacturing and finishing tools – and to use them as the basis for making watches that reflect both the heritage of Roger Dubuis and the personal history of Mr. Roger Dubuis.
Roger Dubuis himself is a watchmaker who began his professional life working in the restoration of rare and often very complicated vintage clocks and watches, and restoration remains a key aspect of his overall views on the art of watchmaking. There is, also, the company’s ties to the Genevan watchmaking tradition – most notably to the fact that it remains today the only watchmaking house whose entire production receives the Geneva Seal (also known as the Geneva Hallmark). This will according to Roger Dubuis’ announcement be reflected in making every finished Hommage Millésime timepiece conform to the requirements of the Geneva Seal.
The first Hommage Millésime is based on an ébauche that includes a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and chronograph, which has been modified by Roger Dubuis in order to bring it into line with Geneva Seal requirements. The watch is being presented in a 60 mm pink-gold case, and overall required 1,800 hours of work, with some 700 expended just on restoration of the movement. Changes to the base ébauche include the addition of two retrograde displays for the perpetual calendar, and on the movement side, the chronograph coupling lever has been re-designed to be in the shape of a stylized number 8, which is something of an iconic number for the brand.
The piece shown is Hommage Millésime no. 1 and the movement has been designated Calibre RD181; it’s a 20 ligne movement running in 28 jewels with 558 parts which largely are finished to within an inch of their lives. It’s certainly not for everyone – 60 mm of pink gold high complication never is – but if you are the sort of person