2147 Daniel Roth Lemania Skeleton Chronograph
For being one of the most influential independent watchmakers to have ever walked the Earth, Daniel Roth is today not a part of the discourse in the way that Journe, Voutilainen, MB&F, or even Akrivia are. This, I suspect, is because Roth is not easily understood immediately; Roth requires study. There are multiple eras of Daniel Roth with very different intentions, which to an untrained eye may look very similar. However, collectors and enthusiasts unanimously agree, nothing which came after holds a candle to early 90s Lemania-based Roth. This was Roth at his most creative after just branching out on his own, making watches personally. Of those laudable years, this hand-skeletonized 2147 is amongst the most desirable. Without wishing to be hyperbolic at all, it may just be the most worthy yet unsung bit of independent watchmaking today.
After 14 years at Breguet creating some of the most desirable chronographs to ever leave their doors, Roth established his own eponymous brand in 1989. Students of history will note that this date places him amongst the very first independents (think Dufour, Muller, Dubuis, Journe, and a few others in that time). First came a tourbillon in 1989 and then a pioneering manual chronograph in the C147. From those years of Breguet experience, Roth carried over many elements of traditional watchmaking: blued steel hands, varied guilloché technique, precious metal cases, and movement finishing standards. But that wasn’t all; Roth had helped to create many complicated Lemania movements earlier in his career. It was only natural for him to settle on venerable 2320 ébauches as a blank canvas for his painting.
And paint he did. The example, likely finished by the master’s hand himself, speaks for itself: finely decorated plates and bridges, mirror anglage, perfect inner angles, all with no fault to be seen. Roth had an eye for perfect classical watch design. I don’t just mean the 38mm ellipsocurvex case he designed, but in every detail. For example, look at the way the upper balancecock plate is cut, in a way that you can see the pallet fork exposed through the dial. Who does that?! Roth did. And so much more. It is estimated that around 3000 pieces exist in total from this fully independent era (300-500 yearly) before sale to Bvlgari in 2000. Of those, a minute fraction are skeletons.
This example sports a lovely condition. Its case shows surface wear commensurate with a thirty year old watch, but no bashes and no serious knocks. That case is sharp, with small amounts of oxidation inside its angles as if to laugh in the face of polishing wheels. The movement is, well, perfect. Nothing is out of place. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 2147 Skeleton here from S. Song for 110000 USD.