I won’t shy from the fact that Roger Dubuis has its fair share of detractors, who believe that all elegance should be subtle elegance. To Roger Dubuis, less is never more – more is more, and this counter-current attitude attracts a faithful and fervent niche following. What’s important is that those who get it, get it.
If you like watches that tell time in unusual ways, you’ll love the Roger Dubuis Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph. Its the new torchbearer of Roger Dubuis’ radical approach to watchmaking, which the manufacture has coined ‘Hyper Horology,’ and epitomizes the manufacture’s insatiable appetite for venturing into uncharted horological waters.
What exactly is ‘Hyper Horology’? The same way the late Monsieur Roger Dubuis pursued technical innovation through his creations like the Sympathie and Hommage, his eponymous brand continues to push the envelope under the banner of Hyper Horology, which it has trademarked. Unlike brands that rally behind a banner of historical milestones and reissues, Roger Dubuis CEO Nicola Andreatta is no nostalgist. He shared with me that he has no intention of reviving classic models or harping on the past. His eyes are fixed on the unlimited possibilities of Hyper Horology and his work is dedicated to forward-thinking collectors who desire to live life to the fullest.
Today, Roger Dubuis is synonymous with eye-catching watches that pack distinctive aesthetics and extraordinarily complicated movements. Case in point: recent inventions like the Roger Dubuis Quatuor with four sprung balances and the Roger Dubuis Double Flying Tourbillon are some of the most complicated watches ever attempted in watchmaking.
At Watches & Wonders 2023, Roger Dubuis debuted the Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph, which from first look is obviously not your grandpa’s split seconds chronograph. I dare say that the intricate architecture of this novelty and the incredible attention paid to its detailed finishings, easily make it one of the most visually absorbing timepieces of this fair.
I’ll attempt to expound on this hyper-technical chronograph. The Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph has a central minute and a central hour hand, along with two central split-seconds chronograph hands. Everything is normal… up till here. Here’s where the record needle drops.
This split-seconds chronograph function of the RD114 calibre is operated by a double column wheel system. Its split-seconds hands operate conventionally, but its tripartite minute hand at the 3 o’clock position is anything but. Named the 120° Rotating Minute Counter (the “120° RMC”, for short), the tripartite hand has arms that point the units digit and carry the tens digit (0,1 or 2).
In simple terms: This three-hand satellite’s hands bear the number 0, 1 and 2. As the chronograph minutes elapse, this satellite indicating the minute will rotate. It doesn’t rotate in planar fashion though. Picture a piece of luggage that rises out of a hole and up onto a conveyor belt for you to see, before receding back down into a hole. The hand that you need to pay attention to, among these three hands, will rise above the other two, and point to an index on the 0-3-6-9 sector. For example, if 15 minutes have elapsed for the chronograph function, then the ‘1’ hand of the tripartite satellite will rise (indicating that the chronograph minutes elapsed is ‘1?’) and point to the second index after the ‘3’ on the 0-3-6-9 section (3 + 2 indexes; indicating that the chronograph minutes elapsed is ‘?5’).
While admiring this absorbing complication, which Roger Dubuis has already filed for a pending patent, you will also notice that the number 88 on the tachymeter scale is highlighted, because it was Monsieur Roger Dubuis’ lucky number.
In the same spirit of how Monsieur Roger Dubuis’ Double Retrograde Perpetual Calendar made jaws drop and left heads a-scratching, the Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph blows minds with its outlandish way of indicating chronograph time.
Next, its Conical Monovortex Tourbillon has a 360° conical trajectory, which means unlike other tourbillon or double tourbillon watches that can compensate for the effects of gravity on one or two axes, the Monovortex Split Seconds Tourbillon negates gravity on all axes. The same way spinning the wheels of a bicycle you’re riding will keep you from falling sideways, constantly moving this tourbillon around on a 360° trajectory nullifies the effect of gravity in all directions.
On the flipside, its Turborotor Cylindrical Oscillating Weight harnesses the power of gravity to power this watch. The Turborotor Cylindrical Oscillating Weight is a new self-winding system that necessitated eight months of research and development, and makes its debut inside the Roger Dubuis Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph, a timepiece where gravity gets punk’d.
Its 47mm is made of tough but lightweight Mineral Composite Fiber, which is engineered from 99.95% silica and made using a Sheet Molding Compound process.
MCF is particularly sturdy while being 13 per cent lighter than SMC Carbon. This perfect example of Hyper Horology is secured to the wrist by a bi-material strap equipped with Roger Dubuis’ signature quick release system.
Since its founding in 1995, the manufacture has filed numerous patents, made all big four complications (in under a decade, to boot) and created 23 mechanical calibers. The new Roger Dubuis Monovortex Split Seconds Chronograph is a good indication that the brand’s desire to invent has not wavered.