Enlightenment And Nothingness: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Automatic Skeleton
There exists a state of mind that is, by definition, the experience of complete nothingness.
You might call it enlightenment.
It is the moment when there is nothing more to gain, nothing more to lose, nothing to desire, and nothing to do.
While this might sound like a boring existence to the very busy modern person, it is actually the realization that the world is at its perfect state right now, and it can only ever be perfect.
The world is as it is.
This nothingness that fills the enlightened mind isn’t necessarily great knowledge about the meaning of everything, but instead a calmness that comes with the loss of attachments and rejections.
If you do not want reality to be something different, you cannot be disappointed.
Imagine how much your life could change for the better if you harbored no fear of the future or resentments of the past. You could live in the current moment, the moment that is perfection because it is what it is. No longer would the weight of the universe rest on your shoulders, instead you would stand beside it and view it for what it really is and not what you had hoped it could be.
So emptiness or nothingness is really the ultimate state of being, with everything superfluous removed. Nothingness allows the appreciation of what is there without the addition of what is not required. This could be said to be similar to what a skeleton watch is; the complete removal of the superfluous leaving only the remaining essential metal in a perfectly realized state.
Perfect englightenment: skeletonization
The art of skeletonizing a watch is definitely a rare skill, but even rarer is creating a skeleton movement from the ground up to conceive only the essential right from the start: in essence, the most nothingness possible.
For the art of skeletonization, emptiness is the holy-grail that is emphatically sought. The final product could be thought of as en-light-ened!
One great example is being released at SIHH 2015: the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Automatic Skeleton. This piece was designed, like a majority of the Excalibur Skeleton pieces, as a skeleton movement instead of a skeleton-ized movement.
Facilitating the path forward, it is actually much easier to achieve the desired skeletonized result when you start from scratch instead of working around design decisions made for other purposes, like those in a standard movement. In such a case, there is no need to plan ahead for material to be removed so things can be laid out in whatever way works for the stated goals (be they form, function, or space saving).
Skeletonizing a pre-existing movement is naturally harder because compromises must be made to accommodate earlier design requirements, which may be unsuitable for a skeleton watch.
Skeletonized from birth
The Excalibur Skeleton watches are designed as such from the beginning, and the effect is quite easily seen in the finished pieces. The architecture is very clear evidence, as numerous straight lines in a traditionally skeletonized movement are about as common as a three-legged unicorn wearing a bowler cap and smoking a corn cob pipe.
Okay, maybe they are a little more common than that, but most open-worked movements take the shape of the numerous circles and arcs they were designed around.
Since Roger Dubuis was able to direct the shape of the open-working, the brand’s engineers also created a star theme that would echo throughout the entire line of Excalibur Skeleton pieces. And the rays of the stars (in this piece there are two different sizes), along with other strategic bridge lines, point to different hour markers.
On the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton they point to the 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 11 o’clock markers, which are simple square gold inserts on a track around the periphery of the dial.
The shapes of the bridges are not where the only awesomeness of this movement comes from; it also comes from the complete skeletonization of every wheel and gear save about six in an effort for perfect nothingness. This further complicates the construction process as a simple wheel now takes another half-dozen steps to complete outside of the basic process for creating a wheel.
The extra surfaces and edges must be treated in some way after being cut, and in a movement that meets the Poinçon de Genève standards this means a large amount of extra work for each component.
But the most interesting aspect of this movement, beside the incredible shapes afforded by the ground-up design, is the inclusion of a skeletonized micro-rotor for automatic winding.
Generally, skeleton pieces begin life as a manual-winding movement because the addition of an automatic winding rotor obscures the skeleton work, or adds parts to fill in the space that was open-worked in the first place.
Even the addition of a micro rotor usually fills up enough space that much of the skeleton effect is lost.
Skeletonizing the rotor helps this problem, but introduces another: inefficient winding due to low centrifugal force from a lighter rotor. To counteract this, the winding rotor is almost the entire thickness of the movement to make it as heavy as possible in its perceived lightness. This creates more force for winding while, when viewed from straight on, continues the open-worked theme as well as the star shape (in the base plate it sits atop).
This also creates a much desired depth (to me, at least) that many skeleton movements lack. Being so light and empty, many also feel relatively flat as a result, since the tall edges of bridges have been reduced or eliminated. But with this oculus for the winding rotor, its towering walls, and the deep rotor spinning in the midst, it allows for a better visual understanding of the depth of the movement that many thin layers can never convey.
For this reason, the RD820SQ caliber of the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton now sits high on my list of skeleton movements simply because it plays with emptiness and fullness at the same time.
Another thing it is full of (while being the spokesman of emptiness and nothingness) is empirically perfect attention to detail. It is, as you might remember, a bearer of the Poinçon de Genève (Seal of Geneva) hallmark. This means that every single surface of the 167 components that make up the RD820SQ caliber is individually finished to the best of Roger Dubuis’ ability, which is exquisite to be sure.
In fact, all of the brand’s calibers bear the Poinçon de Genève hallmark, so there is much effort put into every piece that comes out of its workshops.
This effort is evident in the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton and its new big brother, the Excalibur Skeleton Flying Tourbillon. That piece even features a skeletonized case to push the design through the entire watch. These are two great releases that I am pleased to have time with.
Stay tuned for further releases at the SIHH and enjoy the Excalibur Automatic Skeleton breakdown!
• Wowza Factor * 9.1 Skeletonized micro-rotor in a purpose built skeleton movement of Poinçon de Genève quality, oh yeah!
• Late Night Lust Appeal * 77.55 » 760.505m/s2 The manliness of this skeleton movement (and watch) combines with a clean layout for something very lustworthy.
• M.G.R. * 68.6 Top marks are given to this newest movement in the unique Excalibur line made by Roger Dubuis. Arthur would be proud.
• Added-Functionitis * N/A Again and again some of the coolest pieces have time–only displays. No complaints here. But you can skip the Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the incredible non-swelling.
• Ouch Outline * 10.7 – Slicing Your Fingertip On The E String Of Your Guitar Now I haven’t fully cut myself on a guitar string, but I can’t imagine it feels very good, especially to those soft finger people out there. But for an Excalibur Automatic Skeleton, I would play that E string all day until it happens!
• Mermaid Moment * Fifty-Five Minutes After that much time you will have noticed the star rays pointing to the hour markers and be ready to head to city hall to apply for the license!
• Awesome Total * 1065.46 The result of multiplying the number of components in the movement by the thick(thin)ness in which it gets squeezed derives one grand awesome total!
For more information, please visit http://www.RogerDubuis.com/
Case: 42 mm pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber RD820SQ, fully skeletonized
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: $78,100 ($159,500 for the Excalibur Spider Flying Tourbillon)