Chances are, the Blossom Velvet Blue is the sort of mechanical wristwatch you’d not expect from one of men’s favourite watchmaking names, Roger Dubuis. This wristwatch is lady-like and pretty, attention-grabbing and sparkly, and manufactured specifically for that discerning gentleman’s better half. Sorry guys, ladies first!
We must admit that we scour the endless image bank called Instagram with the kind of obsessive fashion that stalkers and boyband fanatics would approve of. Almost daily. Okay, maybe daily, during lunch breaks – perhaps hourly and during office hours, too – because of something we term as research (upper management understands). Trends are now discovered in a different way – by you, by us, by influencers, and even by those who influence them.
To filter the thousands of shoes to the very pair we need to own today is as simple as looking up the #shoeporn hashtag. The same can be said of clouds – yes, those fluffy white things – under the #cloudporn hashtag. (You’re welcome, but we digress.) Wristwatches, too, is involved in the same hashtag game as other major life-enjoyment categories like fashion, architecture, food, and art. It is the only time we get to punch in #watchporn into our search engines and not be on a guilt trip or wonder if anyone is watching us or figuring out a sensible explanation to our history folder if questioned later. That said, if you’re like us, the results of #watchporn (over a million tags) are often one-sided. In the words of the great James Brown, the results are screaming: “This is a man’s, man’s, man’s world...”
This hashtag has been monopolised by gents for a while now, unapologetically we might add. Perhaps it’s time to strike a balance, give ladies just as much reasons to flaunt their wristwatch game as their other half. The truth is, it starts from the very same watchmakers responsible for making these wristwatches in the first place. The word from the industry is that R&D departments and work benches in Switzerland are aware about this negligence towards the fairer sex, having spent the last decade and a half satisfying the consumer’s thirst for wristwatches with more testosterone than an imagery of Steve McQueen stubbing out a cigarette. And not forgetting about squandering another good part of this timeline remedying the conservative spending during the financial crisis.
Two decades since announcing their arrival onto the scene – then under the namesake master watchmaker who now possess a ceremonial role with the brand – Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis is embarking on a fresh start to redefine watchmaking in an era where industry trends shift as quickly as a Karlie Kloss or Kim Kardashian post in the previous hour. Perhaps this is their most complicated challenge yet (and the industry’s) in rebooting a segment that used to just hold a supporting role to their male counterpart.
While Roger Dubuis has been lavishing ladies with wristwatches since their early days, their preliminary push appear to lack the kind of belief that women wanted to strap on a Roger Dubuis as much as they wanted to cruise in a Rolls Royce or pack their pretty dresses in a Rimowa. Wristwatches then were downsized offshoots of their square, rectangular and round cased male counterparts, then embellished with diamonds and bright colours as differentiators. Diehard followers of the Swiss marque during the late ’90s and early ’00s would be able to recall the rectangular Too Much models that flirted with motifs of lips and hearts or the cuff bracelet Follow Me models with a cross-shaped case. Although unique in their own right, they were mixed signals of the Roger Dubuis identity.
So, in 2012, Velvet was birthed, a ladies-dedicated line amidst their action-heavy portfolio, a second chance in cultivating sophisticated and mechanically-sound designs that would elicit envy and be considered Instagrammable by self-professed divas, maybe even beyond this Instagram era. Most importantly, the Velvet welcomed a fresh exterior that wasn’t borrowed from any of the men’s collections. That move alone showed their seriousness in moulding a new franchise player in their ranks, one that aims to stick around for the long haul.
Velvet’s profile is profoundly down-to-earth but speaks to the same no-nonsense audience who helped crown the battle-worn look of the emblematic Excalibur as one of the must-haves in watchmaking. Not just another been-there-done-that 36mm round case, some might even suggest the part-round, part-tonneau-shaped Velvet resembles a strong-as-hell chain link. They are not wide off the mark with such an assessment.
Roger Dubuis has manufactured the Velvet with the diva in mind, the Beyoncé type with run-the-world sort of ambitions and a take-no-prisoners personality to boot. Although the idea celebrates strength and independence, the design radiates all expressions of elegance and femininity, too. Latest examples of Velvet indulge with mink fur and handmade corset straps to gold and platinum fully paved with brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, each looking like wristwatch versions of red carpet gowns. The Roman numeral-inspired hour markers, sharp and pointed like blade cuts, are perhaps the most obvious aesthetic that links the Velvet with its history. And without a doubt, all wristwatches under their umbrella are mechanical and certified with the Poinçon de Genève stamp, an industry-respected quality control test on high-end Swiss wristwatches (Roger Dubuis is the only watchmaker to have all their wristwatches certified by this independent Geneva-based organisation). What we applaud is that the watchmaker doesn’t entertain the stereotype that a battery-operated wristwatch would suffice for ladies, with no exceptions to the rule just like the inclusion of the Poinçon de Genève stamp in all of their wristwatches.
Today, the Velvet is levelling up from the high jewellery and haute couture concepts they have proposed in the last couple of years. With the Blossom Velvet Blue, Roger Dubuis is following in the footsteps of last year’s Excalibur Brocéliande, which flaunts ivy leaves fashioned from semi-precious gemstones scattered at random on a skeletonised movement. The Blossom Velvet Blue, on the other hand, places femininity on the forefront with a softer-looking case that is in-line with the gorgeous florals that decorate the mother-of-pearl backdrop.
Shaded in various tints of blue, these blossom motifs are sculpted from a thick plate of Grand Feu enamel, which insiders will let you know is a laborious technique that involves a glass or metal backing being fired in an oven at high temperatures, often with unpredictable results and unevenness in colour and paint job (and even here we’re grossly understating its difficulty level and high rejection rate). The six floral motifs act as unofficial hour markers, supporting the passing of time with the kind of air reserved for those too busy to even mark time – when they do peek at their wrist, this beautiful backdrop will put a smile on faces, along with 154 of a girl’s best friend (1.99 carats) gathered on the case and the dial. The Blossom Velvet Blue, a limited edition of 88 pieces, is also offered in pink just because.
The mechanical heart, on the other hand, will always be a priority with Roger Dubuis as reliability and accuracy are the basic tenets of their wares. Powering the Blossom Velvet Blue (and Pink) is the self-winding RD821 calibre, the same in-house staple movement that is housed in more than 40 models of theirs ranging from the Excalibur to La Monégasque to other versions of the Velvet. So, you know this ticker has been tried and tested more times than you can imagine.
We think the Blossom Velvet Blue marks that important next step in this Swiss watchmaker’s legacy, and perhaps the industry’s. A ladies wristwatch that is as Instagrammable as any of the men’s? This might be it. And need we remind you that it “wouldn’t be nothing… without a woman or a girl.”