Hands-On With the New Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier (And Some Thoughts on the Brand)

Roger Dubuis is loud and in your face. This is the first thing one must accept at face value to understand the appeal of Richemont’s most nonconformist brand. The second thing is to realize that design language and watchmaking are two separate things that exist independently of each other. You may not love the design, but you have to respect the watchmaking. That said, I recently visited their new boutique at South Coast Plaza in Southern California, and in that visit got to check out their latest release, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier.

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

Roger Dubuis refers to the Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier as “hyper excessive” and I’d have to agree, though I suppose it applies to most of the brand’s offerings. It’s hard not to draw parallels Richard Mille, another brand that embraces brash designs and cutting edge materials. 

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

I have always had a fondness for Roger Dubuis and here’s why: design is subjective but watchmaking is not. Like every Roger Dubuis watch produced, the Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier bears the Poinçon de Genève aka the Geneva Seal. Recognized by the horological cognoscenti as being the premier certification in watchmaking, the Geneva Seal has been around for over 135 years. Historically, the Geneva Seal was limited to movement finishing, but in 2011 became more stringent in taking movement performance and case finishes into account. According to Roger Dubuis, ensuring that their watches meet the Geneva Seal standards equates to 40% longer production times.

So, while Roger Dubuis may not be to everyone’s tastes, there is no arguing that Richemont’s club kid is very serious about watchmaking.

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

On to the watch at hand; this isn’t the first Excalibur Blacklight piece, with a trilogy of an earlier design iteration released about five years ago. However, there are improvements and updates to both the movement as well as the “micro-beams” that are actually placed within the movement and glow under UV light. Emanating from the off-center diamond, these metallic orange and yellow beams are coated in UV paint. Look closely and you’ll notice that there is actually chamfering done on these which is another testament to the exceptional attention to detail here. The crisscrossing beams sit on the upper layer of the movement which you can see in the graphic below.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that this highly stylized skeletonized dial is not going to be the most legible for, you know, reading the time. Though what the watch lacks in legibility, it makes up for with excellent finishing. The hour markers alternate between yellow and orange, with a closer inspection showing the angular polished white gold frame around each of the indices. The hour and minutes hands are done in white gold with a satin finish and have a double-blade forked design up to the tip which is coated in lume. Paired with the star motif and architectural bridges, Roger Dubuis weaves the chaotic into something fun (and still a little chaotic, of course). 

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

This watch comes equipped with the RD720SQ automatic micro-rotor movement which was introduced last year alongside the debut of the “standard” Excalibur Monobalancier. The RD720SQ was updated from its previous iteration and has a 72-hour power reserve brought on by new geartrain toothing and an updated escapement as well as an updated 4Hz frequency. 

There are also improvements to the micro-rotor that offer increased protection against shocks and vibrations; micro-rotors are typically more fragile than standard rotors so this was a wise development. Additionally balance wheel inertia was doubled and the new escape wheel uses diamond-coated silicon as well as a new lubricant. 

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

The 42mm wide and 12.7mm thick case of the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier comes in at just about 49mm lug-to-lug with 50m of water resistance. This is a very versatile, wearable size and while I would commend Roger Dubuis for eschewing the need to force something like a 45mm case here, the brand has been offering the Excalibur in 42mm for years now (so why do I so frequently hear “too big” as a complaint?). The case is done in white gold with a bezel set with precisely 60 diamonds. You’ll notice the brand’s hallmark triple-lugs which are effective in broadening the case stance, but frankly they’ve never done much for me design-wise. The watch comes on a strap done in calf and rubber that has the brand’s easy-to-use Quick Release System. The triple-folding clasp is done in white gold and steel.

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

While it is difficult to photograph in the setting of a boutique, the luminescence of the micro-beams when under a UV light is pretty cool to behold. Now, were we in a setting lit like a nightclub, I would have plenty of lume shots. Still, the rendering is true enough to life and gives a solidly realistic impression. It’s all part of a package that, while not for everyone, deserves to be understood and appreciated alongside its contemporaries. Oh, also Michael Jordan wore one in The Last Dance. If you haven’t seen his watch collection, definitely go take a look.

roger dubuis excalibur blacklight monobalancier

While this yellow-edition is a boutique exclusive, there are three other variants that are available as online exclusives that you can check out on the brand’s website. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Monobalancier (ref. RDDBEX1014) is limited to 28 pieces with a price of $101,000.

To learn more, visit Roger Dubuis, here

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