Following LVMH’s announcement that it will be reviving Daniel Roth in earnest under the stewardship of Jean Arnault, Director of Marketing and Development of Louis Vuitton watches along with the technical powerhouse La Fabrique Du Temps, the namesake brand has now unveiled its first watch as a standalone entity – the Tourbillon Souscription. Produced in a limited edition of 20 pieces, the watch is an interpretation of the Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187, with which the pioneering independent watchmaker made his debut back in 1988.
Originally produced in all three colours of gold as well as platinum, the Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187 was a watch that encapsulated Roth’s pursuit of maintaining a sense of continuity from his time at Breguet while also striving for artistic progression. It incorporated many of the hallmarks he had laid out for Breguet such as the Clous de Paris guilloche pattern, blued hands, an offset dial framed by a metallic, circular-grained chapter ring and a one-minute tourbillon at six o’clock. In fact, the movement was the same Lemania tourbillon movement developed by Roth himself back then at Breguet but was reworked to accommodate his unusual double-ellipse case, incorporate a power reserve and calendar indication on the back of the watch and finished to an even higher degree with a rounded, black polished tourbillon bridge. And while the Breguet ref. 3350 he created featured a three-arm seconds indicator mounted on the tourbillon cage that swept across a single 20 seconds scale, the Double-Face Tourbillon ref. 187 had three seconds arms of varying lengths that swept over three corresponding scales as the tourbillon rotates. To accommodate the longest arm, a tiny groove had to be made to the inner wall of the case to allow it to pass through. It appears that Roth was particularly interested in designing a tourbillon that could also function as a clear and precise seconds indicator, as this continues today in his own Jean Daniel Nicolas two-minute tourbillon.
The process of re-creation ultimately required a delicate balance between conservation and refinement, where the team at La Fabrique Du Temps had to re-create much of the original design and aesthetics, while introducing subtle yet significant improvements in areas such as ergonomics, typography, and movement design. Rendered in yellow gold, the double-ellipse case stays true to the original in terms of construction and proportions. It consists of three parts – case back, case middle and a stepped, domed bezel. However, while the original had straight, angular lugs that were welded to the case middle, the Tourbillon Souscription has undergone a slight transformation, with the lugs now boasting a gentle arch for better ergonomics.
The dimensions of the case are identical to the original at 38.6mm by 35.5mm but is slimmer at just 9.2mm, compared to 11mm before. This is because the Tourbillon Souscription only has a single face, doing away with the power reserve and calendar indications on the back of the watch.
The dial itself was created by none other than Kari Voutilainen, who produces some of the most beautiful engine-turned dials today at his dial factory, Comblémine. Formed from a plate of solid yellow gold, the dial is decorated with Clous de Paris guilloche like the original. It also features blued hands, an offset dial framed by a metallic, circular-grained chapter ring and a one-minute tourbillon at six o’clock with the same unusual triple-armed seconds hand, where three blued steel hands of varying lengths glide over three separate seconds scales in sync with the rotation of the tourbillon. Visible through the tourbillon aperture on the front, the base plate has been decorated with Geneva stripes while the plate right underneath the tourbillon is frosted, which create a striking contrast of textures against the Clous de Paris pattern on the dial. The use of a yellow gold dial also offers a remarkable contrast to its blued steel hands.
Although seemingly minor, the change of typeface significantly impacts the overall aesthetic of the watch. Unlike the original, which utilized a combination of serif typefaces for the Roman and Arabic numerals, brand name, and serial number, the Tourbillon Souscription employs a sans-serif typeface, lending it a more contemporary and up-to-date look.
Developed entirely by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton led by Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, the movement itself has been developed from scratch and significantly upgraded. While the original had a power reserve of 40 hours, which was a standard in watchmaking at the time, the new model features a larger mainspring barrel that provides a generous power reserve of 80 hours on a balance frequency of 3hz. The tourbillon is held in place once again by an entirely black polished and rounded bridge. As with early Daniel Roth watches, the movement is concealed by a solid case back but it has been entirely hand-finished according to the brand. The screw heads, winding click and bridge supporting the drive wheel for the tourbillon have all been black polished.
The watch will be sold on subscription system where a deposit will be paid upon order confirmation and the rest upon delivery in early 2024.
Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription
Movement: Hand-wound DR001 Calibre, power reserve of 80 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds; tourbillon
Case: 38.6mm x 35.5mm x 9.2mm; 18K yellow gold 3N; water-resistant to 30m
Dial: 18k Yellow gold 3N with Clous de Paris guilloche
Strap: Brown calfskin leather with 18k yellow gold tang-type buckle
Availability: At select retail partners; limited to 20 pieces