Roger Dubuis Introduces the “Orbis in Machina” Central Tourbillon

A refined calibre with sophisticated mechanics.

No stranger to extravagant timepieces, Roger Dubuis’ brand of “Hyper Horology” is apparent in its bold design language and intricate, showy movements. For Watches & Wonders 2024 the manufacture presents the Roger Dubuis Orbis In Machina Central Monotourbillon, a central tourbillon with an expectedly classical movement.

Initial thoughts

The way Roger Dubuis carries itself now is very different from the brand’s early, classically styled pieces. The current house style is centred on mechanical aesthetics, angular shapes, and large cases with proprietary triple lugs. The Orbis in Machina sticks to that familiar style, although the front appears more subdued and technical than the average Roger Dubuis complication. Despite the layered and open-worked dial, the technicality of the piece is mostly concealed.

Orbis in Machina still carries a few embellishments, resulting in a design that is clearly opulent in a hyper-mechanical sort of way. Seemingly sitting at the top of a stack of moving parts on the dial, the tourbillon regulator serves as the centrepiece.

Paradoxically, the more restrained composition on the outside contrasts with the interesting and sophisticated mechanics within. The movement fills up the large case, creating a sense of visual density.

This is more evident on the back, which tells a whole different story compared to the front. The display back reveals an intricate and exquisitely finished movement. Stylistically, the RD115 movement is also an unusual and appealing juxtaposition: the calibre looks modern in its entirety, although the individual parts are traditionally styled and finished.

The RD115 has an interesting execution because the movement architecture was adapted to the central position of the tourbillon. This dictates the peripheral hands, which require planetary gears that call for a more intricate gearing than a conventional going train.

More than a tourbillon

Roger Dubuis has a strong foundation in watchmaking – it was one of the first independent brands to build integrated manufacture – with a strong emphasis on in-house movements, most of them incorporating tourbillons. This watch is a “Monotourbillon” because Roger Dubuis has numerous double tourbillon watches in its catalogue.

At the same time, all Roger Dubuis calibres are hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève, the Geneva seal of quality. Qualifying for the seal does beyond just a well finished movement, but also requires specific requirements regarding the architecture and key components. As a result, calibres bearing the Poinçon de Genève are usually developed from the beginning with these criteria in mind.

The Poinçon de Genève is discreetly stamped on the dial at three o’clock

Illustrating both Roger Dubuis’ manufacturing ability and Poinçon de Genève quality, the RD115 has been found in past models, including the Knights of the Round Table Monotourbillon. Here the movement arguably has more presence with the more restrained dial aesthetics.

While most other Roger Dubuis tourbillons are skeletonised, the Monotourbillon has virtually no dial – only three concentric disks. The watch doesn’t feature a conventional handset either. Instead small peripheral hands, driven by planetary gearing, indicate the time against the concentric discs. The outermost disc is for the hours, followed by the minutes, and finally the running seconds are indicated by the centrally mounted tourbillon.

The flying tourbillon cage revolves once a minute (which is why it can double as the seconds hand). The visible upper half of the cage is a mirror-polished cobalt-chrome alloy, while the lower half is titanium. These materials leave it light but sturdy, useful properties for a flying tourbillon, which has only one anchoring point on its base, unlike classic tourbillons that are pivoted on both sides.

The 3 Hz balance inside the cage features a flat balance and pin regulator. Considering the high-end nature of the rest of the movement, an overcoil hairspring and free-sprung balance would have been more appropriate.  

The movement runs for 72 hours on a full wind – remarkable considering the power intensive tourbillon and peripheral time display.  

The view on the back clearly draws from the brand’s origins in classical watches and movements. Most of the brand adopt a the traditional finger-like shape, as found in classical pocket watch movements coming from the French-speaking regions of Switzerland.

In keeping with the requirements of the Geneva Seal, the widely spaced bridges are each striped and angled, with chamfered slots for the screws and jewels. The screw heads and gear pivots are all mirror polished and create a uniform look with the rhodium-plated bridges. The baseplate is generously finished with perlage decoration and features deep cutouts to the dial side. 

Though a less important aspect of the movement, the rocker-type keyless works are an interesting choice and illustrate the thought put into its construction.

This allows for a function-selector crown, where the setting and winding functions are engaged by a pusher cleverly concealed in the upper crown guard. This does away with the need to pull the crown to set the time. And built into the setting mechanism is patent-pending safety device that prevents the user from damaging the watch during time setting, a necessary due to the unusual peripheral handset and central tourbillon.

The case is typical Roger Dubuis Excalibur style. It’s in 18k pink gold and is a broad 45 mm in diameter. For ergonomics, the lugs curve generously downwards.

The notched bezel is aggressively angular and sculpted, which continues with the crown, crown guards, and lugs with broad bevels. Like most recent Roger Dubuis watches, the case has distinctive triple lugs, but unlike earlier versions, this has a concealed system for easily changing the straps.

Key facts and price

Roger Dubuis Orbis In Machina Central Monotourbillon
Ref. RDDBEX1119

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: 14.41 mm
Material: 18k pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. RD115
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Calf leather strap with matching 18K pink gold clasp

Limited edition: 88 pieces
Availability: Exclusively at Roger Dubuis boutiques
Price: CHF180,000

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