Roger Dubuis Inks A Watch With Celebrity Tattoo Artist Dr. Woo
This limited edition Excalibur Dr. Woo Monotourbillon marries the celebrity ink master’s design sense with the brand’s out-there aesthetic.
Watchmaker Roger Dubuis has always drawn inspiration from out-of-the-box thinking. And when it comes to collaborators, the brand’s audacious designs and innovative materials coupled with the fresh perspective of its partners are transformative. This metamorphosis is especially evident with Roger Dubuis’ automotive team-ups. Take, for example, the Excalibur Spider Huracán or the Excalibur Spider Pirelli. You could say that Dubuis time machines are the horological equivalent of a supercar.
And for those collectors who consider a Lamborghini a work of art, Dubuis’ newest collaboration won’t seem like much of a stretch. At Watches & Wonders 2021, back in April, the manufacture announced that for its next partnership, the brand was teaming up with urban culture creatives, like Chinese sculptor Liu Wei and French street artist Gully, under the “Urban Art Tribe” concept.
This week, the first of these two timepieces – the 42mm Roger Dubuis Excalibur Dr. Woo Monotourbillon – has arrived. And it’s a ground-breaking piece for the brand and the Los Angeles-based tattoo artist, Dr. Woo.
Who is Dr. Woo?
Brian Woo, a.k.a. Dr. Woo, is a tattoo artist to the stars, inking celebrities like Drake, Zoe Kravitz, and Miley Cyrus. The wait time to get inked by the good doctor (according to legend, Woo took on the nickname because his parents always wanted a doctor) is reportedly two years.
Woo’s work represents a bold break from traditional tattoos. Instead of the heavy lines, bright colors, and stylized imagery, Dr. Woo favors super fine lines (using a slim needle) and minimalist imagery, usually rendered in black and grey.
With this collaboration, both Woo and Dubuis opened up their creative studios to one another. In the process, Woo brought his pared-down vision to the Excalibur Monotourbillon by replacing Dubuis’ signature star-shaped movement bridge with a more refined sapphire crystal bridge. In turn, that crystal bridge is then decorated with a gold star and a miniature gold rocket.
“I want to push myself beyond my comfort zone,” said Woo about the collaboration. “Tattooing and fine watchmaking have that in common: the same attention to detail, a dot versus a tiny component, assembled perfectly to create a bigger picture.”
Breaking the Rules
Upon close examination of the Excalibur Dr. Woo Monotourbillon, one appreciates the significance these changes made to the watch’s architecture. And by reinterpreting the Excalibur, Woo has revealed even more of the maison’s expertise.
The star seems to levitate above the barrel. Plus, Dr. Woo’s signature two-line pattern appears between the notch on the crown and bezel, the star’s arms, the tourbillon’s cage, and the hour markings on the flange and the hands. As a result, the pattern links the horological elements yet creates the sensation of tension, as they appear as though they will meet but never do. Dubuis’ horological artisans had to create new methods to recreate Woo’s fine needlework. In the case of the star pattern, the gold had to be metalized before it could be etched into the sapphire.
All the creatives in the Urban Art Tribe were granted access to the manufacture itself, where they could view one of the greatest expressions of Roger Dubuis’ art: the RD512SQ calibre. Visually and technologically speaking, this mechanism is a masterpiece. Highlights of this movement include a non-magnetic lower tourbillon cage made of titanium and a mirror-polished non-magnetic cobalt-chrome upper tourbillon cage.
These cutting-edge materials not only reduce the weight of the watch significantly, but the calibre also provides resistance to magnetic fields and a power reserve of 72 hours.
Pieces of Eight
Having already been awarded the “Poinçon de Genève” for the manual decoration of each component of this calibre, the Roger Dubuis artisans went one step further for the Excalibur Dr. Woo Monotourbillon. They hid an itsy-bitsy gold spider – Woo’s talisman – on a different position on the dial of each of the eight limited editions, making every single one a unique piece.
Other details are meant to forge a connection with the wearer. These elements include ultra-fine lines that were laser engraved directly onto a black PVD plate underneath the calibre and Woo’s time traveler pattern etched on the caseback.
Even the black calf leather strap pairs technical mastery with artistic vision, as Roger Dubuis used hot stamping to emboss the material with a detailed design.
Most importantly, each buyer will also be able to receive a tattoo from Dr. Woo himself – perhaps the most enduring connection between the wearer, the manufacture, and the artist.
Woo sees the project not just as a reinterpretation of the Excalibur but also of time itself, commenting: “Time is the most valuable currency we have. It’s up to us to decide how to use it.”
The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Dr. Woo Monotourbillon is limited to eight pieces and is priced at $160,000. For more information, visit the Roger Dubuis website.
(Images © Roger Dubuis)