January 21st, 2013, in SIHH2013
The ultimate challenge to gravity
Excalibur Quatuor: this is the name chosen for the world’s first silicon watch incorporating four sprung balances. This exceptional achievement in the history of Fine Watchmaking is signed Roger Dubuis. This piece, played by four virtuosi and accompanied by five differentials, presents the ultimate challenge to gravity. The Excalibur Quatuor symbolises the mechanical magic of one of the most innovative Manufactures of the 21st century. It pushes the limits in terms of precision and marks one of the major advances in contemporary watchmaking.
Since the start of this century, silicon has been used to produce technical components that increase the precision of watch movements. Now Roger Dubuis, with its constant commitment to stretching technical limits and meeting unbelievable challenges, presents the first-ever watch with a case entirely produced in silicon.
Silicon has been chosen for its uniquely low weight and its incomparable hardness. In fact, it is half the weight of titanium, which is half the weight of steel, yet it is 4 times harder. Its deep grey colour adds to the exclusivity of this iconic watch. Silicon has a similar atomic structure to diamond and working with it requires just as much skilled expertise. Roger Dubuis has called on numerous specialists using highly advanced techniques to produce this case in “metallic crystal”.
The sprung balance: the soul of a mechanical watch
The regulating organ, or sprung balance, is the pulse of a mechanical watch, the critical component that has always attracted most attention. It is the element that actually counts the passing time and therefore determines the watch’s precision. Today, when only a handful of companies are able to manufacture the other components of a movement “in-house”, producing a sprung balance internally is an exceptional achievement in Fine Watchmaking. Roger Dubuis is able to do this because it is one of the very few Manufactures with totally integrated production. Its invaluable expertise enables it to incorporate not just one but four sprung balances in the same movement, the calibre RD101, a feat that was considered impossible until now.
Two major innovations to improve precision
The Excalibur Quatuor watch, one of the highlights of SIHH 2013, is produced in a limited series. It captures the bravura and creativity of Roger Dubuis better than any other model. It represents innovation while respecting the great traditions of watchmaking. In addition to incorporating four sprung balances, it also features a completely original power-reserve indicator. These two technical feats (patents applied for) have not been developed for their own sake but as part of watchmaking’s permanent pursuit of precision. The precision of a movement is affected by the gravity of the Earth as the watch constantly changes position with the motion of the wrist.
The tourbillon has provided a partial answer to this problem but the Excalibur Quatuor offers a new solution. The four carefully positioned sprung balances work in pairs to compensate immediately for the rate variations caused by the changes in position. What the tourbillon achieves during the course of a minute, the Excalibur Quatuor achieves instantly.
An exceptional 16 Hz frequency
A classic watch operating at a frequency of 4 Hz is considered to be highly precise. But the Excalibur Quatuor raises the bar much higher with its frequency of 16 Hz. This is an exceptional performance: the 16 Hz refers to the basic movement and not just one of its functions. As each balance oscillates four times per second, the frequency of the watch is multiplied by four as the balances do not oscillate simultaneously. The ticking of a classic watch is now replaced by the gentler sound of truly high precision.
Even the power reserve is original
Defying the laws of gravity and high frequency is not enough for the Excalibur Quatuor. It also offers a completely new way of indicating the power reserve. While a double display showing the crescent of the moon turns at the same speed as the barrels - 4.5 revolutions per day- the needle also turns, but more slowly. As the power reserve reduces, the hand follows the barrels’ rate of discharge, positioning itself precisely on the two moon crescents to indicate the power still in reserve. A patent has been filed for this inventive, precise, intuitive and innovative mechanism that perfectly represents the values of Roger Dubuis.
3 + 2 = 5 differentials = 7 years of research = innovation²
Roger Dubuis had already made headlines in 2005 by introducing a double flying tourbillon with a differential. This extraordinary technical achievement laid the foundations of the seven-year research programme required to produce the Excalibur Quatuor watch. This is a watchmaking masterpiece that not only integrates four sprung balances and an original power-reserve display, but includes no fewer than five differentials. Three of them link the balances in the gear train, one on the centre-wheel and the two others on the third wheel, providing an average of the positions for uncompromising accuracy. The fourth differential controls the power-reserve display, while the fifth connects the rewinding stem to the two parallel barrels.
Outstanding mechanics expressed in a powerful design
More than any other watch, the Excalibur Quatuor symbolises the immense creativity of Roger Dubuis, going beyond the identity codes that have made the brand famous. In progressing from the first sketch to its presentation at SIHH 2013, it will have drawn on all the expertise in the Manufacture.
Roger Dubuis is constantly seeking to stretch technical limits and meet unbelievable challenges. Now it, surprises the world of watchmaking once again by presenting the first-ever watch with a silicon case.
Thanks to the expertise of the Manufacture, this “Metallic crystal” adds a unique aesthetic dimension to this masterpiece which is available in three highly exclusive pieces. A total of 88 pieces of the Excalibur Quatuor in pink gold will also be produced. Master watchmakers, engineers and designers have worked hand-in-hand at each stage of development to achieve a perfect fusion of technique and design. Maintaining this balance has affected even the smallest step forward. It has influenced the concept, fabrication, adjustment and the decoration by hand of all the 590 components of the calibre RD101. The flamboyant dial of the first Roger Dubuis watch with four sprung balances is a spectacular invitation to discover the peak of watchmaking technology.
Its bridges and plates have been refined to the absolute limit in a contemporary version of the traditional art of skeletonising. The exquisite finishing of the Excalibur Quatuor watch makes it uniquely beautiful and endlessly fascinating. With its daring openwork and airy spaces, this powerful modern jewel of Fine Watchmaking superbly expresses the free, avant-garde spirit of Roger Dubuis. The case incorporates all the identity codes that create the aura of the Excalibur Collection: an imposing round curvature, fluted bezel, crown guard and triple-horn strap attachment.
Reflecting the brand’s constant pursuit of supreme quality, the Excalibur Quatuor watch and its movement are both stamped with the Geneva Seal (certification in progress) as is every piece that Roger Dubuis produces – a unique achievement in the world of Fine Watchmaking.