We have all heard of King Arthur, whose name conjures up an early medieval world of knights, magicians, and damsels in distress. Most importantly for us, though, is his famed inner circle: the noble Knights of the Round Table. It is to this knightly fellowship that ever-creative Swiss horology house Roger Dubuis dedicates its most captivatingly creative watch of all – the Excalibur Knights of the Round Table series.
You might have wondered where Roger Dubuis got the unusual word Excalibur, referring to many of its watches, from. The answer lies in the ‘Excalibur sword’ mentioned time and time again in Arthurian romance: the legendary sword of King Arthur, which could only be pulled from a stone by a true king. This year, the horology house launched two new Knights of the Round Table watches, which take the collection’s technological and creative prowess to new heights.
Story time: The legendary Knights of the Round Table
A key function of the Knights of the Round Table was to keep peace in King Arthur’s kingdom. But that’s not all: one could argue that the unwritten ways in which a ‘gentleman’ might conduct himself in the 21st century dates back to the days of King Arthur. This is because the Knights of the Round Table were famously said to adhere to the so-called Code of Chivalry.
This set of rules influenced generations of medieval knights, who would swear to follow the code in knighthood ceremonies throughout the Middle Ages. The code held four particular values in high regard: honour, honesty, valour, and loyalty. Despite a knight’s primary function being a fighter, then, the code was actually centred around gallantry and a certain moral conduct. Meanwhile, Roger Dubuis focuses on three other important values: passion, commitment, boldness.
Evolution of the collection
Now that we know the background of the mythological Knights of the Round Table, we can take a look at the history of Roger Dubuis’ eponymous collection.
The original Knights of the Round Table watch, housed in a rose-gold case, was a pretty far cry from the models we have today. This makes sense, given we are talking about a manufacture that had only been founded 18 years ago at that point.
Nevertheless, the first ever model enticed clients with its strong story, taking its inspiration from a table said to have been given as a wedding gift to King Arthur in celebration of his marriage to Guinevere. Today, historians believe the table inspiring the dial was in reality made around 1290 for a tournament. Less high-tech and more traditional in its design than today’s pieces, the watch’s historical dial is made of grand feu enamel.
Credit © Sean Clarkson
The second model followed close behind in 2015. Again, aside from the knights placed around the dial, the central design was very different to the current models on offer. Featuring a precious black jade dial with a Celtic motif, the watch was housed in an 18-carat white gold case.
2018 – 2019
Meanwhile, the Knights of the Round Table III from 2018 is much more like the models we know today. Its exquisite dial is sculpted from solid blocks of blue enamel and gold, with a low poly aesthetic. Low poly, by the way, is the late 90s/early 2000s style of graphics used in video games. It makes a number of appearances within the Knights of the Round Table collection. Indeed, a year later, the rose-gold watch appeared in a new iteration, this time with red enamel making up the low poly effect.
In 2021, the Ref. RDDBEX0806 took things to a new level, with Roger Dubuis switching up the case material. This time, the Knights of the Round Table model opts for Damascus titanium. Alongside the strong yet lightweight qualities of ordinary titanium, Damascus titanium produces a beautiful shimmering effect.
Another piece to appear in that same year is the unusual Chinese Zodiac Pink Gold 45 mm model. While 28 pieces of each Knights of the Round Table watches are usually available, this time, only 12 pieces were made. The knights were switched up in favour of 12 micro-sculpted pink-gold animal heads, set against a jade base. At this point, the watchmaker notably introduces Murano glass. Murano glass is a traditional material from Venice, which serves the boundary-pushing horology house well due to its ability to bend and reflect light in interesting, highly modern ways. The manufacture used lacquer to create the black colours and symbols on the dial.
2022 Knights of the Round Table editions
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Knights of the Round Table Monotourbillon: RDDBEX1025
This year, two more key models joined the Knights of the Round Table family. These are the DBEX0934 and the RDDBEX1025. Let’s start with the latter, given this is the ultimate showstopper. Causing a real stir at Watches & Wonders earlier this year, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Knights of the Round Table Monotourbillon is the first model to integrate more than hours and minutes.
That said, the model naturally stays true to the design code of the collection, with the 12 knights standing to attention around the dial, marking each hour that passes. Likewise, the watch case is sealed by the manufacture’s recognisable notched bezel.
Yet there is a major difference: the centre of the dial now integrates a second showpiece: the Monotourbillon. These days, tourbillons are of course more a show of horological expertise than essential means of defying gravity. Yet Roger Dubuis’ Monotourbillon goes a step further, ensuring that the watch is less sensitive to the effects of gravity by expanding the diameter of the balance wheel – making it consequently more stable.
The new and improved knights
Meanwhile, the 6 mm knights are once again in pink gold. For the new models, Roger Dubuis aimed to add a sense of movement to the knights, which now have their own individual aesthetics, from their pose to the armour they wear. Rather than appearing stationary, as was the case in previous editions, these new knights closely resemble action figures.
The way that this Knights of the Round Table watch displays the time is also different. Integrating into the circular design, the watch does not use hands per se, but rather two gold markers that indicate the hours and minutes with rotating discs.
Once again, Roger Dubuis use Murano glass in the design, with a purple colour scheme coming to the forefront. These blocks appear to levitate around the Monotourbillon. The entire double-surfaced flange of the watch was created out of one piece of glass, in order to keep the colour consistent – a challenge presented by the glass material.
Ticking away inside the watch is the manufacture’s new Excalibur Monobalancier movement, the RD 720SQ. With a solid increased power reserve of 72 hours, its pink-gold micro-rotor is designed to minimise its vibrations. Furthermore, as mentioned, Roger Dubuis double the balance wheel inertia. This does not only improve stability. It also makes the watch, already in a pretty hardy case, less sensitive to shocks.
The list does not stop there: Roger Dubuis also keep the watch efficient by optimising the shape of the calibre’s escapement wheel, which is now constructed from diamond-coated silicon and is paired with adjustable diamond-coated silicon pallet-stones. This, along with a new lubricant to keep the components working smoothly side by side, ensures efficient energy transmission.
Unsurprisingly, as is now a given for all Roger Dubuis watches to leave the maison under CEO Nicola Andreatta, the watch bears the coveted Poinçon de Genève certification. This is in large part due to the high level of finishing on the RDDBEX1025. Contrasting with the contemporary signature RD star that levitates freely above the barrel, traditional decorations include sand-blasting, satin-brushing, and polished angles.
Another fine detail: the crown of recent Knights of the Round Table watches are shaped like sword guards, as if a blade were stuck inside the watch. This evokes the legendary Excalibur sword that King Arthur pulls from the stone, leading to him becoming the appointed King.
DBEX0934 Knights of the Round Table
The second Knights of the Round Table to appear this year, the DBEX0934, also takes a new step in a more futuristic and creative direction for this collection. This highly dramatic pink-gold timepiece features an evocative dial that illustrates the earth below the knights cracking open. The blood-red colour of the flange and jet-black cracks are achieved with the use of Murano glass once again, creating a highly theatrical yet glossy and refined look for the watch. The knights, cast in 18-carat pink gold, appear ready to fight whatever the cause for this might be.
As can be seen on the Excalibur Monobalancier, the micro-sculpted figures are donning medieval armour, plates, a shield, a helmet, as well as individually customised weapons – all the while fitting into the miniature 6 mm design. Each one is manually assembled by hand. Owners of the watch will have an excellent view of each and every detail on this dial, thanks to the inclusion of a new transparent sapphire ring under the bezel. This ring provides a full view of the many delights held within this 45 mm timepiece.
The interchangeable strap
Notably, the watch comes with a black calf leather strap, which marks the first ever Knights of the Round Table watch to feature a Quick Release System. This makes for easy interchangeability of strap options, which has the power to change the aesthetic of this strong-minded watch.
The ornate calibre RD802
Powering this Knights of the Round Table model is the RD821, an automatic Monobalancier movement from the maison. The calibre beats at a frequency of 4 Hz, while offering a lower power serve than its sibling with approximately 48 hours. Keeping things simple (in terms of functions if nothing else) it offers hours and minutes.
Once again, the timepiece, as well as all the components comprising its movement, are finished to the highest standards – hence its proud right to bear the Poinçon de Genève. Once again, we therefore see some thoughtful and ever-creative details via the open caseback.
The oscillating weight, for example, is now completely redesigned with a circular finish comprising of two woven layers of tilted pyramid shapes, creating the appearance of castle-stained glass. Around this complex display lie the words: ‘Around this table, the bravest knights will gather as equals. They will set forth in search of adventure, righting wrongs, protecting the weak and humbling the proud.’