Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S
The new Ferrari SF90 Stradale is a hybrid supercar packing in a twin-turbo V8 alongside a trio of electric motors to scorch the tarmac through its lightning-fast dual clutch gearbox with over 986bhp. That’s more than the hypercar LaFerrari, capable of breaking the speed limit in a hair over 2.5 seconds and lapping Ferrari’s Fiorano test track faster than any other road car before it. It is a milestone technological achievement, the most advanced machine coming out of Maranello to ever wear a number plate. Meanwhile, down the road at Lamborghini, the Aventador S makes do with no turbos, no hybrid and no dual clutch. It’s not after numbers—it’s after something else entirely.
When I was a kid planning how I would spend the millions I’d earn being a rock star astronaut, I was obsessed with numbers. How fast, how powerful, that kind of thing. To my underdeveloped and inexperienced brain, these were the measures with which I primed my expectations for the real world, because, well, no one was going to let a thirteen-year-old drive a Ferrari to find out otherwise.
It’s a difficult thing to grow out of. Driving a car like the Ferrari SF90 is not something easily translated into words, a visceral, violent and evocative experience that has to be encountered personally to—never mind fully—even slightly appreciate. Until then, it’s just numbers. Everything is, really. It’s all just raw data collected from other people’s experiences crudely quantified by a series of markings we use to count things.
When it came to the fight between Ferrari and Lamborghini, well, it was obvious—a Ferrari was quicker around the Nürburgring, had a faster 0-60, higher top speed, and that was that. No contest. My superstar fate was sealed. Except it wasn’t, because the onslaught of adult life quickly taught me that an emotive experience cannot be summed up with numbers. The first time I opened the taps on my new-to-me R1, out of ten, how did I feel? No idea. Frightened to death, mainly.
This is where kid brain met adult brain and my carefully laid out childhood plan discombobulated. Obviously I knew being a rock star astronaut was out of the question—and heaven knows I could have done without the commute anyway—but I had a realisation about these numbers I’d put so much faith in that blindsided me just like that idiot going all the way around the roundabout in the outside lane did in his mother’s Ford Fiesta.
Squished into a seat on an Easyjet flight to wherever was cheapest, launched down the runway with more force than my bike ever could was nowhere near as exciting as being on the bike. And that’s when it clicked: there’s more to emotion than numbers. It’s a whole medley of things. For the R1, it was the scream of the engine, the roar of the tyres, the rush of the wind—and the constant sense of immediate death.
That realisation was probably the biggest turning point for me into scraping through the university of life to barely graduate as an adult. It took longer than I’d expected, but it was a lightbulb moment that suddenly made my obsession with facts printed on paper—magazines were a thing back then—seem rather childish. And that’s when I heard a Lamborghini V12 for the first time.
I was at Goodwood, and the car the V12 belonged to wasn’t even going that fast. In fact, it was a crawl, slow and meandering through the gathering throng of people. But the sound it made, it was burnt into my memory like a scar, a low, mournful howl that seemed as much animal as it was machine. Then the driver revved it. How could I experience such overwhelming emotion from a vehicle that was virtually parked? To this day, I still don’t really understand it. All I know is that I have the same reaction every time.
And that brings me to this, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Aventador S. It doesn’t purport to be the most accurate watch, or the most mechanically complex, or even the most technically impressive. It’s an experience that can’t be measured in numbers. Let’s see if words can have a go instead.
Right off the bat, there’s no, “this is like a Lamborghini for your wrist”—it is a Lamborghini for your wrist. Obvious branding partnerships aside, the Spider Aventador S—the watch, not the car—is not only directly inspired by the Spider Aventador S—the car, not the watch—but by the way it makes you feel. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to experience a Lamborghini Aventador S, or even get close to one, but if you have, you’ll know that it’s got more drama than a Mexican soap opera before you even turn the key.
Or rather, push the button, because the Aventador S is all about making every moment feel like you’re back to being thirteen again, only this time someone really did let you drive that supercar. There’s a lid you have to flip up to press the starter, just like a fighter jet. You don’t have to, because there’s a hole in it you can poke your finger through, but doing it anyway makes you feel like that dream of being a rock star astronaut might have been possible after all.
The Roger Dubuis is exactly the same. It’s bristling with features, even though none of them are really necessary. You can get a lightweight carbon fibre and not-so-lightweight rose gold combo for the case, for example. Looks cool as anything, doesn’t make it any lighter to wear. Then there’s the double balance, spread in a V just like the powerplant in the Aventador, angled so at least one balance is in the optimum position. They’re linked with Roger Dubuis’ ASP Autonomous Stability Program, a differential that blends the two together seamlessly into the jumping seconds mechanism, just like the diffs transferring drive to the wheels in the car. Does it make the watch more accurate, or last longer, or protect it from magnetic fields? Not really. Looks like a million dollars, though.
The strut bars, skeletonization, quick friction optimisation, G-force anti-ejection reinforcement—all of it is, really, for show and not for go, just like the Lamborghini. Thirteen-year-old me would have scoffed. It’s dead in the water! Even Rolex offers better performance than this at a tenth of the price. But here’s the bit the Rolex doesn’t give you, that doesn’t conform to the numbers: an experience. If you love cars, truly love cars, you’ll love Lamborghini. The audacity of it, the spectacle, it’s the true essence of Italian flamboyance right there on four wheels.
Same with the Roger Dubuis. If you love watchmaking, appreciate the intensity of this centuries-old art, then the Excalibur Spider Aventador S will give you chills. Maybe you have to see it in person. In fact, you do have to see it in person. A picture can’t tell you what it’s like to feel the chassis of an Aventador vibrate beneath you or hear the wail of its V12 as its climbs to its 8,500rpm rev limit, and neither can it tell you how elaborately sculptural the calibre RD103 is as you turn it over in your hands, how layered it sits within the case as the light catches it piece by piece. You get an impression, sure, but you don’t get that feeling.
And I know what you’re thinking—this is probably some rush-job piece that looks great from a distance but doesn’t hold up in close proximity. But no—this is post-Audi Lamborghini, built to the highest level of Swiss quality. That’s no empty superlative, because the Geneva Seal engraved on the movement tells me exactly that. This is the hallmark of watchmaking excellence, literally. The numbers may not tell the whole story, but this really does. It does not get better than this.
Lamborghinis are not loved by all. They’re loud, showy and impractical, not to mention attention-grabbing. Drive one into the forecourt to get fuel and every eye will be on you, some staring in admiration, but others in equal parts with disgust. I get it, they’re not for everyone, and neither is the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Aventador S. Sometimes a Rolex really is just a more appropriate watch. But that doesn’t mean the Roger Dubuis has no place in this world, in fact precisely the opposite. It may not be the best timekeeper, the most complicated, but it sure does do one thing absolutely perfectly, even after our dreams fade away and the pressures of being an adult take hold—it gives you a break, an instant of freedom, and reminds you just how special a moment can really be.
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