H37 Roger Dubuis Hommage Perpetual Calendar

Early Roger Dubuis is often compared to Patek Philippe, which is a telling thing in itself. But RD’s detractors will often ask, ‘Why not just buy the original?’ It’s a sentiment I entirely sympathize with, the imitation of anything is rarely on par with its inspiration (particularly off-brand Doritos). But some early RD is distinct enough that I place it in a separate category of being entirely its own thing. The Red Hot ChiliPeppers were inspired by Led Zeppelin, but would anyone conflate Under The Bridge with Immigrant Song? You can like both. And with the technically challenging wave guilloché and oversized numerals here that we’ve never seen on a Patek Philippe but independent Dubuis used, this, ‘takes me to a place I love. All the way.’

Increasingly, these Hommage series are being seen as RD’s greatest works, a far cry from the modern Lamborghini-inspired Excalibur which looks like Megatron after contracting a virus. This perpetual calendar bears a classic aesthetic many seek with modern touches like a wide polished bezel, applied Breguet numerals, and a 25/300 scale calibrated to half beats of the balance, the smallest accurate measurement of an 18k vph beat. The inline Day-Month apertures are straight Padellone, but the date and moonphase are separated in dual registers instead of co-linear. The moonphase is flanked by the text ‘bulletin d’observatoire‘ in a subtle humble-brag, each movement was tested for accuracy at the Besançon Observatory, whose standards were significantly more exacting than COSC. This is serious. And the leap year indication? Why not bright RYGB? RD pursued tasteful evolution, not revolution, but with bright touches of imagination.

Inside is the auto calibre 5739, a Longines L990 ébauche (RD also worked for Longines on his path toward independence). In the 37mm white gold here, just 28 examples were made, as every iteration of RD’s early work. The movements were Observatory tested and earned Geneva Seals. At time of production, it was really only Patek Philippe who carried the Seal of Geneva and then were moving away from it. But RD’s sense of what it meant to be an ‘hommage’ went so deep as to earn the same award for finishing standard. After completion, regulation was done by Roger himself for each movement. Unlike many modern eponymous independents, you can be absolutely certain the master’s hands have touched this watch. For some, that means a lot. If only this perpetual calendar had served as core to the brand’s identity today, imagine what we might have had instead.

This example ticks all the boxes. The case is excellent, light marks and not tuned up in service. All hallmarks are deep. It comes as watch only, which might detract for some buyers but does mean it’s a value compared to where most of the wave dials. It comes from a well-regarded London retailer.