Hands-On With The Surprisingly Introverted Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium
There are 94 watches in the current Roger Dubuis lineup. Say what you will about them, but in any case, they’re remarkable and unmistakable. Since vanilla is not a favorite flavor at Roger Dubuis’s HQ in Meyrin, all 94 watches in the “RD” catalog are polarizing creations — or are they? The new Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium is perhaps the least “upsetting” watch that RD makes. With its gray titanium exterior and matching open-worked movement, it paradoxically combines soothing shades with bold, edgy lines and shapes. And just like every Roger Dubuis timepiece, the new Poinçon de Genève-certified Excalibur in titanium proves to be incredibly photogenic.
Shall we first get the small matter of the price out of the way? The absence of tourbillons, gemstones, or a plethora of balance wheels — the Quatuor features no less than four of them — puts the Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium (DBEX0956) in the entry-level zone of the brand. Well, everything is relative, of course, because the watch still has a price tag that reads €72,000 including VAT / US$66,500 before taxes. That’s serious money. But you also get serious watchmaking skills materialized in a striking but not overly exalted watch. Underneath its gray exterior, the watch shows details that will make any pro or amateur watch photographer drool. The hyperbolically advertised Hyper Horology creations from Roger Dubuis might look futuristic, but they also bear the Poinçon de Genève, a quality seal created in 1886. This mix of modernity and traditional craftsmanship begs for a closer look.
Zooming in on the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium
If you are, by any chance, an affluent watch enthusiast with a passion for photography, Roger Dubuis is your watch brand. Every time we’ve gotten a Roger Dubuis timepiece in the office — we’ve already enjoyed the Excalibur Monobalancier Black Ceramic 42 and the tourbillon-equipped Excalibur Eon Gold — the photographer on duty has loved doing his job. Maybe there was a little sepsis at first because of the bold design, but once the camera started zooming in, the enthusiasm of the person looking through the viewfinder started to blossom. The Poinçon de Genève-hallmarked watch proudly shows that each element is meticulously finished by hand with the utmost care. So it’s not just the contemporarily styled RD720SQ automatic movement but also, the case, bezel, bracelet, and clasp that received tender, artisanal, manual attention.
Maximizing the micro-rotor
The most dynamic feature of the in-house caliber RD720SQ manifests itself on the dial side between 10 and 11 o’clock. It’s not the large star shape of the 178-component 28,800vph movement with a 72-hour power reserve. No, it’s the architectural, skeletonized micro-rotor that looks like it could be a component normally used in an Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars. There is a ten-year tradition of using micro-rotors at Roger Dubuis, and this particular one is the result of technical masters honing their craft over time. The component is not only highly efficient at winding the movement, but it is now also an integral part of the design of the watch. What you can’t see is that because of the way the little rotor is built, it causes as few vibrations as possible that could negatively affect the functioning of the movement. Furthermore, it is also very stable and less sensitive to shocks than traditional micro-rotors.
A macro inspection of the movement’s beating heart reveals a diamond-coated silicon escapement wheel paired with diamond-coated silicon pallet stones to ensure an impressive 72-hour power reserve, bringing even more practicality to the wearer. Well, since a picture is well worth the 617 words I’ve written so far, just take a long, closer look at the pictures that Morgan took to bring my description to life.
Wear it with lightness
Watches from the upper echelons of Haute Horlogerie are sometimes rather “heavy,” not just literally but figuratively too. Casually strolling around with an expensive, complicated creation just doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It takes time and practice — and money, yes, I know — to wear an exclusive timepiece with subtle swagger. Now, my limited funds don’t allow me to splurge on grand complications, but my job brings me the opportunity to try out watches far exceeding my budget. And I’ve noticed that constant presence is not a quality I appreciate in a watch. I prefer to wear watches that are on the lighter side. And also in this case, I mean both literally and figuratively. The Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium allows me to do just that. The fact that it’s 33% lighter than it would be in steel certainly helps. So does the modest 42mm case size, but there’s more.
The golden Lambo or the vintage one?
The airiness of the Excalibur’s open-worked movement enhances its wearability. And it also turns out to be easy to read, both during the day and at night. The immense, open-worked hands are more than prominent enough to stand out against the skeletonized movement. And in darker circumstances, the Super-LumiNova on the hour markers, the tips of the hands, and the logos comes into play. So yes, a lot is happening on the dial, but because of the color, it also blends in with the rest of the watch. Even the notched bezel with its elaborate design and the signature case with its triple lugs aren’t too in your face because the grayness of the titanium tones everything down. And that dimmed color scheme makes this €72K watch wear more easily than its price suggests.
Why is that a good thing when you’re paying €72K? Because it will help you wear this watch with natural nonchalance. And that’s something that also doesn’t always come easy to the fortunate few. Let me put it this way: this is possibly the first modern Roger Dubuis creation that doesn’t create the same vibes most people give off while cruising in a Lamborghini Aventador Super Veloce Roadster painted in shiny Oro Elios. Yes, the Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium is still an extravagant, slightly outrageous piece. But it’s also classy in the same way that a vintage Lamborghini Miura is both brutal and suave at the same time.
Embracing the bracelet
Maybe the biggest factor in the stunning wearability of the Grade 5 titanium Excalibur Monobalancier is the bracelet. Again, the gray tone works modest wonders here. But the construction and finishing also lead to a top-notch wearability rating. The watch uses short links for great wrist-hugging characteristics. While the quick-release system isn’t crucial when wearing the watch, I do need to mention its presence to be complete. The modern and edgy bracelet shows a subtle, very slightly industrial, and sophisticated matte metallic sheen. Furthermore, the matte surfaces are complemented by shiny, polished bevels. Again, this is a Poinçon de Genève-bearing watch, and it shows.
Also, a major factor in the overall look is the integration of the case and bracelet. When you see an Excalibur on a leather or rubber strap, the third lug — the one in the middle — is very noticeable. In the case of the new Excalibur in titanium, everything visually integrates and harmoniously blends in.
Final words on the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium
Look, I understand if you like classic timepieces, traditional lines, and understated designs. But even if so, try to take a look at the Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium, as our photographer Morgan did. The shot-blasted, NAC-coated movement parts show Poinçon de Genève-level finishing, which is just as excellent as any more traditional watch with the same badge honor. Yes, this Excalibur will blow you away. Still, once zoomed out, the overall look or the bigger picture will also have to appeal to your taste.
In titanium, the Excalibur has reached a new level. Most likely, it will also appeal to a new audience. It may now speak to those who never dared to venture into the wild world of Hyper Horology but are now confronted with slightly toned down but still strikingly original looks. Strikingly good, extremely photogenic looks too. The proof is in the pictures, and the camera never lies.
For more information on the Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium, please head over to the official Roger Dubuis website.