By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
As always, the Roger Dubuis booth will be one of the prime attractions with its eclectic mix of high horology and steampunk. This year the stand recreates the interior of a Swiss chalet with a cuckoo clock and a legion of automatons - in the guise of watchmakers - in deference to the mechanical cosmos of watchmaking.
The scenery sets the stage for the manufacture's unveiling of the Roger Dubuis Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch. Hommage was the name given to Mr Roger Dubuis' - founder and "soulmaker" of the brand - first collection in 1995, designed to honour historical watchmaking traditions and some of the more illustrious figures in the industry. Rekindled in 2014, the Hommage collection is all about "Incredible Mechanics" and features a variety of complications combined with the lavish and somewhat unorthodox style that sets Roger Dubuis apart from the crowd.
The star of the Hommage watch collection is the Roger Dubuis Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch. Its remarkable semi-skeletonised dial in rose gold reveals the heart and soul of the complex mechanics required to chime time and keep a tourbillon spinning. In order to get an idea of what a minute repeater actually involves, it is worth a short digression.
Long before the advent of portable clocks, time was administered by the local parish priest. With the gradual miniaturisation of tower clocks, smaller clocks made their way into affluent homes, striking the passing hours.
Minute repeaters, which audibly chime the hours and minutes at the press of a button, were developed before electricity to tell the time in the dark. Unlike striking watches, which chime at regular intervals, the beauty of a minute repeater is that it signals the hours, quarters and minutes with different tones, on demand.
In the case of Roger Dubuis' latest Hommage watch, which will be unveiled to the public when Watches&Wonders opens on 30 September 2014, a smooth rose gold repeater slide on the left side of the dial activates the mechanism. The hours chime on a low tone, minutes on a high tone and the quarter hours on alternating high and low tones. The exceptional thing here is that you can see all the tiny parts go through the motions on the watch dial at 3 o'clock.
Roger Dubuis' Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic watch goes well beyond its auditory charms and features a flying tourbillon nestled between 5 and 6 o'clock. Keeping all the functions at optimum levels is the in-house self-winding calibre RD 104 featuring the distinctive Roger Dubuis double micro-rotor - with guilloché decoration in pink gold - visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Limited to 20 pieces to celebrate Manufacture Roger Dubuis' 20th anniversary, the watch, like all watches from Roger Dubuis' Manufacture, bears the Poinçon de Genève, a hallmark vouching for the provenance, quality, craftsmanship and reliability of the watch.