The Excalibur, Roger Dubuis’s flagship line, is one of the wildest creations of modern watchmaking. The jagged, sharp-angled skeletonized movements with star-shaped bridges, offset hour and minute hands, notched bezel, and flange are hallmarks of the collection. Theatrical renditions have included everything from gemstones coated with an under-layer of glowing Super-LumiNova to the quirky Knights of the Round Table collection, with hour markers represented by micro-sculptures of the legendary defenders of the realm. Compared to these, the monotone all-titanium Excalibur Monobalancier is almost jarringly understated. At the same time, the monotone gray color scheme draws attention to the edgy sharpness of the RD720SQ movement.
To create a skeletonized movement is one thing, but to finish it to Poinçon de Genève standards is something else. Every component is finished by hand, and the more openworked a movement, the more surfaces there are to finish. The jagged edges of the star-shaped bridge are matched by the angles in other elements of the movement and by the shape of the skeletonized dauphine hands. Super-LumiNova on the tips of the hands, indexes, and logo infuses the watch with a trace of the drama we expect from Roger Dubuis.
Full titanium watches are something of a trend at the moment—Rolex launched a full-titanium Yacht-Master 42 this year, and Grand Seiko, Bulgari, Zenith, and IWC have all come out with titanium case/bracelet pieces in the last year. The Excalibur Monobalancier is 42 mm, which is not small, so the full-titanium treatment makes it lighter and therefore more wearable. It is 30 percent lighter than steel, and just as strong. It is also hypoallergenic, anti-corrosion, and anti-magnetic. The bracelet has been reworked in a way that makes it both more interesting and more comfortable. It was redesigned to incorporate smaller links, particularly in the middle, for greater articulation moving with the wearer, like a well-made piece of jewelry. The links are brushed on top but have polished bevels, a trick that adds dimension and sparkle to watch bracelets and is being used by a lot of brands right now.
The first skeletonized Excalibur Monobalancier was launched in 2015 but was redesigned last year, and the movement was given several enhancements. The micro-rotor is equipped with ceramic ball bearings that facilitate its movement, plus a shock absorber that decreases the vibrations, hence the noise of the rotor. In the escapement, the wheel and pallet stones are made of silicon, allowing them to be more precisely shaped, which improves efficiency. They’re also diamond coated, which makes them impervious to friction. These and other improvements brought the power reserve to 72 hours, which is fast becoming a standard among elite watch models.
While not limited, Roger Dubuis is said to make only about 4,000 watches per year and the Excalibur Monobalancier carries a price tag of $66,500, ensuring it will be seen only on a handful of very elite wrists.