Confessions Of A Collector – Am I Crazy To Want A $159,000 Roger Dubuis?
Roger Dubuis has downsized its Excalibur Spider into a 39mm case, and it might be the best Roger Dubuis yet.
As a collector, when I think of Roger Dubuis, I envision two wildly divergent watchmaking philosophies. On the one hand, the brand’s eponymous founder Roger Dubuis was a master watchmaker who spent decades developing complications for Patek Philippe and others. Roger Dubuis and his partner Carlos Dias went on to found Roger Dubuis in 1995. The new brand ended up producing a series of classical watches named Hommage and Sympathie.
These perpetual calendar chronographs boasted in-house calibres and were the epitome of watchmaking when they finally hit the market in 1999. Flash forward two decades, and you’ll find nary a mention of any of Roger Dubuis’ earliest collections on the brand’s website. In their place, you’ll find bold and unique designs such as the Excalibur, Knights of the Round Table, and Velvet.
Roger Dubuis loves collaborations, especially when these partnerships enhance at least one of the brand’s two main pillars – adrenaline factor and expressive singularity. So it’s unsurprising that two of Roger Dubuis’ biggest collaborations of 2021 are, once again, with Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli and iconic car maker Lamborghini. Over the years, the brand’s relationships with these companies have resulted in dozens of limited edition timepieces and some unique experiences for the brand’s collectors.
During a recent visit to Roger Dubuis’ offices in New York City, the US president presented the brand’s 2021 novelties and vision for a post-COVID future. But while novelties like the Excalibur EON Gold Glow Me Up are the main talking points for an across-the-board revamp of the brand’s collection, one piece stood out among the rest.
The Excalibur Spider collection has always intrigued me. It’s hard to place why. Here’s this super technical skeletonized piece with a fully visible tourbillon, sharp bridges, and a gear train that feels more complicated than the wiring harness of a vintage Lamborghini, yet, for all its bravado, there’s a purity contained within. The only issue for this small-wristed collector has been the collection’s case sizes, which, for years, have consistently hovered around 45mm.
Enter The 39mm Excalibur Spider
When US president of Roger Dubuis presented the new Excalibur Spider 39mm, he showed me the novelties as a downsized introduction to the brand for people who prefer watches with smaller diameters. Once I also considered the renewed conversation around gender-neutral watches, it was instantly evident that anyone could wear these new 39mm models.
This fact became increasingly apparent when I took the watches for a test drive. With their 45mm counterparts, I always found the collection to be perhaps a bit too bold for my wrist. Not anymore! The new Excalibur Spider models feature sloping lugs, which adapted quite nicely to my 7.5” wrists, and the smooth deployant clasp secured the pieces in a snug fashion.
Available in three models, two with black DLC titanium and one in the brand’s proprietary EON Gold, which is essentially pink gold, the new Excalibur Spider 39mm commands the same level of attention as its upsized counterparts.
It’s true that with a starting of $159,500 for the black DLC titanium versions, the watch does come with a bit of sticker shock. But when you’re playing in the same ballpark as Richard Mille, you can command these types of prices. Plus, in a nod to its motorsports heritage, Roger Dubuis rounds out the Excalibur Spider collection with a Pirelli edition in black DLC titanium with red accents and Pirelli rubber straps rumored to come from the tires of winning F1 cars.
The Value Proposition
Let’s be honest; there is none. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a blisteringly excellent release from Roger Dubuis. Plus, the brand spared no expense or feature when it chose to downsize the case and movement. The watches still feature a flying tourbillon and finely decorated movement components worthy of a Geneva Seal, including the carbon netting that is unique to Roger Dubuis.
As a collector of guilty pleasure watches, which my colleagues affectionately refer to as my Cabinet of Curiosities, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider is right in my wheelhouse. Its intriguing design makes it unique and, of course, a talking piece.
While much commotion has been made about highly desirable modern watches, many commentators have overlooked brands such as Roger Dubuis. But that is a position the brand is comfortable with, as Roger Dubuis does not churn out the same number of watches its Richemont counterparts are. Besides, with an average price point of $100,000, the brand doesn’t need to create mass-market watches. It simply needs to produce desirable watches that will get their collector’s adrenaline pumping and wallets red hot.
With the new Excalibur Spider, I think the brand has done just that. Sure it’s expensive. Sure, none of us actually need a fully skeletonized flying tourbillon in a DLC titanium case. But then again, in the age of smartphones, that’s entirely the point.