Homage To Hommage: The Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater
What exactly does homage mean? We hear this term thrown around a lot in modern society, usually by an artist who has created something very similar to what has come before.
The dubious among us may cry plagiary, but in most cases an homage is simply a way to honor what you find remarkable.
The definition of homage is split between the original meaning “formal acknowledgment by a vassal of allegiance to his lord” and the more relevant “something created or done in honor, admiration, or celebration of someone or something.”
Obviously, since we do not live in a feudal society, we can usually assume the second definition to be the intended meaning.
But in my opinion, the intention can be described more understandably through the synonyms of homage which are respect, honor, worship, esteem, admiration, awe, devotion, reverence, deference, adulation, and adoration.
Basically, if you pay homage to someone or something, you think that he/she/it is fan-flippin-tastic! You are a true fanatic, and that is where the word “fan” originated from in the first place.
Therefore, an homage is what you do or create to show your admiration and respect for your particular interest. We see this in many places and the watch world is no exception. While some examples have become “questionable” choices, many are very reverential to what has come before.
Now imagine you are a brand with a founder you have always adored, and as a brand you want to honor that founder’s legacy. As a result you create an homage collection. And if you are the Roger Dubuis brand, you call it the Hommage Collection.
And why not call it that? This way the source of inspiration is completely transparent. The Hommage (the French spelling of “homage”) collection is the brand’s tribute to its founder, and the styling can be called classic and yet definitively “Roger Dubuis.”
The Hommage collection has produced exceptional pieces, but one has stood out to me as a masterpiece worthy of a deeper look because of its sheer awesomazingness.
That piece is the Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic, and I don’t think I even need to tell you much more, dear reader, so that you understand why this piece is pretty sweet. But I like to hear myself talk (or so I’ve been told), so why not go into a bit more depth!
Levers, springs, racks, and pinions: those are what draw you into this piece. Some of the most beautiful, best sounding, technically impressive minute repeaters in the world look like nothing more than a very nice watch. Some, though, are gifted with a window that allows you to see a little hammer swing back and forth while you listen to its timely melody.
If you are lucky, there might be an open case back where you can watch the exquisite dance of the complicated components, if they’re not covered by a main plate. But even then you still cannot simply enjoy the show while wearing the watch normally.
This is where the Hommage Minute Repeater stands apart. Given the reduced central dial, the wearer can witness a decent amount of mechanics in action and perhaps try to parse out exactly how the system works. This is something that I always admire, simply because being able to see the interplay of the whole system allows for a much better understanding and appreciation of what is going on.
With a minute repeater the entire point (let’s be honest) is no longer simply to be able to tell the time in the dark; it’s to appreciate the movement. We have electric lights that can illuminate the time at any moment, but we tend not to have incredibly complex miniature mechanisms all around us that can chime the time on demand.
This means that being able to see and witness the spectacle is a minute repeater’s entire raison d’être.
Keeping the mechanics visible, including the counting racks and a multitude of levers and pressure springs allows for the hard work and finesse of the watchmakers to shine through.
Almost every watch company can make a beautifully finished watch, this is no real secret. But it is only a sparse few that can create a beautiful watch while also showing you the mechanical details without overwhelming you.
A skeleton-esque result
The result of these efforts makes for a watch that is like a skeleton but does not have the sometimes dense visual detraction. The time is easily read on the Hommage Minute Repeater, while the mechanics are easily observed, both without infringing on the other’s appeal.
But simply allowing the wearer to see the mechanics isn’t enough, the mechanics must be worth gazing upon. This is why only a few companies can even create such a masterpiece, because only a few companies have the ability to fabricate such components and movements.
If you don’t make the components, then you must rely on decorating pre-made components, which always fails to make the intended impression that movements designed and decorated as a whole have.
Now I will grant that every minute repeater out there is made by very talented people. But others do not give the same visceral connection that the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater does with the exposed elements, since many minute repeaters are hidden away inside. Such sorrow is this.
The brand really created a visual treat with its design intent. The finely brushed faces, beveled and polished edges, and delicate perlage all combine to make the mechanics shine from underneath the radiant guilloche dial.
Though I shouldn’t carry on without reminding you that the minute repeater mechanism, while amazing, is not the only star of the show here; there are also a number of other interesting elements: a centrifugal sound dissipater (a type of speed governor), a double micro rotor, and a one-minute flying tourbillon – all finished to the high level required to obtain the Seal of Geneva.
Gazing at this watch is like watching a Tom Cruise movie and having the supporting cast be filled entirely with Oscar winners. It needed more than 156 days of machine and manpower to complete, with approximately 375 hours dedicated strictly to achieving the quality required for the Geneva Seal.
This means that every single surface and edge on every component in the movement has been attended to by a skilled finisher.
The large yet light flying tourbillon at 5 o’clock features a cage reminiscent of an abbreviated Maltese cross with three arms. Attached to the cage is a second hand (the tail of which holds the regulator pins) that ticks off the seconds (admittedly with no indications to point to) during the tourbillon’s sixty-second orbit.
While the tourbillon takes up a large amount of real estate on the dial, it truly feels as if it fits right in with everything else instead of standing out as the obvious focal point.
It does in fact stand out due to the difference in materials used, but it still feels cohesive with the whole.
And even though a majority of the action takes place up front with the tourbillon and the minute repeater mechanism, the rear of the movement seen through the sapphire crystal case back is a fine second act for the Hommage Minute Repeater.
Dual guilloche micro rotors sit side by side, if slightly askew, as if the entire movement design is tilted at a 15-degree angle. The micro rotors help the movement maintain its 60-hour power reserve while also showing off the engineering capability of Roger Dubuis.
Moving north we find the centrifugal sound dissipater (governor), twin repeater hammers, and their matching rectangular gongs. These are the only parts of the repeater mechanism relegated to the back of the watch, probably since these are the only parts of a repeater revealed in many other cases. Just like Roger Dubuis to do things a little differently.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
The Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic is a fantastical watch, and the reason is because of that incredible movement. All of the craftsmanship, design, and detail that went into Caliber RD104 is what makes this watch sing – figuratively and literally.
This piece shows that a minute repeater can provide the best showcase for a brand’s skill and engineering prowess to stand on display, not just to those in the know, but to anyone who has eyes and ears.
I urge you to spend some time with the Hommage Minute Repeater, gazing into its mechanical bones, understanding what makes it the wonder it is. I’ll wait here.
And in the meantime, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.65 A minute repeater that is mostly visible with a flying tourbillon and dual micro rotors? Heck yeah!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 98.7 » 967.91m/s2 This is enough G force to kill most people, and boy did it do a number on my heart!
- M.G.R. * 69.8 Not much can be said that hasn’t already been said about a minute repeater featuring a flying tourbillon and dual micro rotors. This movement has some serious horological street cred!
- Added-Functionitis * Serious Minute repeater, need I say more? This truly calls for prescription strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for this skeletonized melodic swelling.
- Ouch Outline * 12.2 Getting soap in your eyes in the shower and then rubbing your eyes with soapy hands! Let’s just say that it has, thankfully, been years since I have experienced this debilitating affliction, but I would gladly do it on purpose for a chance to get this puppy on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * However long it takes! Whatever the time it takes for the minute repeater mechanism to cast its spell, it won’t be long. I can hear the church bells in the distance!
- Awesome Total * 884 Multiply the number of pieces in the limited edition (20) by the case diameter (45), divide the result by the number of micro rotors (2) and finally add the number of components in the movement (434) and you get one incredigasmic total!
For more information, please visit www.rogerdubuis.com.
Case: 45 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber RD104 with one-minute flying tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; minute repeater
Limitation: 20 pieces
Price: 380,000 Swiss francs