4 balance masterpiece…superior to the almighty tourbillon?
OK, let’s get the SIHH 2013 party started just a little early with a first look at an incredible new piece from Roger Dubuis. In what is sure to be one of the top highlights of SIHH 2013, the Roger Dubuis Quatuor is unveiled. This is a very mechanically complex watch and I will not go in-depth on at this moment; rather I will say that at its core the Quatuor is designed to instantaneously compensate for rate variations based on the position of the watch. Yes, this is what the famed tourbillon does, but typically it makes rate adjustments over the course of one minute. Cased in rose gold, this piece de resistance can be yours for 350,000 Swiss Francs (that’s $375k at current f/x). Some quick discussion– as well as specs and lots of looks — below.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor
Limited edition 88 pieces, 350,000 CHF per
48mm pink gold case, Geneva Seal, dial: anthracite interior flange, white minute track, power reserve and appliques in pink gold, hand-wound Roger Dubuis Caliber RD101 (specs below)
As you can see, the Excalibur Quatuor features four precisely positioned escapements – one in each quadrant of the watch, each mounted at 45 degrees. The escapements work in pairs to compensate immediately for the rate variations caused by the changes in position. Five differentials link the balances to the gear train, smoothing out the influences of gravity in real-time.
Further, as each balance operates independently and not in-sync, the frequency of the watch is 4 x 4Hz, or an incredibly high 16 Hz. Yes, that is 115,200 bph! Talk about high beat!
Says RG movement developer Gregory Bruttin, “The most important step in creating this piece was the work we did seven years ago on the Double Tourbillon. It took a long time to make it work, but it showed that, with a differential, we could successfully average [the rates of] two [timekeeping elements] to improve accuracy.”
Below you see up close the power reserve display. This is a patent pending method of indicating the power reserve. As the double display showing the crescent of the moon turns at the same speed as the barrels – 4.25 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.
Roger Dubuis Quatuor Caliber RD0101
Hand wound mechanical movement, rhodium coated, perlage decor, Geneva Seal; 590 parts, 40 hour power reserve
Hours, minutes, power reserve, 5 differentials, 4 balance wheels
As for the five differentials: three of them link the balances in the gear train, providing an average of the positions for even greater accuracy. The fourth differential controls the power reserve transmission, while the fifth connects the rewinding stem and the two parallel barrels.
The Quatuor in one sense reminds me of the Rudis Sylva Harmonious Oscillator which I recently profiled — vastly different mechanical approach of course, but the principle of both being to instantly compensate for rate variations caused by changes in position of the watch (vs. the tourbillon which typically adjusts for over the course of one minute). In other word, we are again looking at innovation which looks to move beyond the mighty tourbillon.
More to come on this.