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Daniel Roth Returns with the Tourbillon Souscription

Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription

Daniel Roth is one of the legendary independent watchmakers, right up there with George Daniels, François-Paul Journe and Philippe Dufour. He earned his stripes at Audemars Piguet where he learned to fine-tune ultra-thin movements before becoming an integral part in the revival of Breguet. In 1988 he set out to create his own, eponymous brand where he could explore his own concepts and ideas, it was the closest thing to an overnight sensation that you get in horology. Now, almost four decades after its founding, the Daniel Roth name is back on everyone’s lips, as the brand have been revived by Bulgari as part of LVMH.

We’ll talk about how the new iteration of the brand is honouring Daniel Roth shortly. But first, let’s take a look back at the origins of the brand in 1988, and qualify what I mean when I say it was an overnight sensation. In short, what I’m talking about is the fact that Daniel Roth’s very first project as an independent brand was the 25-piece Souscription Tourbillon, and Souscription is the important word here.

Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription
Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription

Souscription (which very simply means subscription) is actually a sales method that is not uncommon in high end and independent watchmaking. The simplest way to describe it is that it’s a form of pre-order where buyers make a substantial down payment on the watch before production even begins in order to fund the actual production period. And production can be a very long time. The fact Daniel Roth’s first watch was a 25-piece Souscription is a massive vote of confidence for a new brand. Even more impressive is the fact that all 25 watches were commissioned by the same person, William Asprey from Asprey of London. With such a significant backer, the success of Daniel Roth was all but assured in an instant.

Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription Original Drawing

Original artwork by Daniel Roth

On a horological level, one of Roth’s biggest contributions to watchmaking is the unusual case shape, described as a double ellipse. It’s designed to allow his watches to have two focal points, one at the top and one at the bottom. On the Souscription Tourbillon, those focuses are the hour and minute display at the top and the tourbillon with retrograde seconds below. Retrograde displays are another Roth signature, inspired by the designs George Daniels used on some of his pocket watches.

Eventually, after a much celebrated series of watches and developments, Daniel Roth moved onto new projects and in 2000 the brand bearing his name was bought by Bulgari. Production was then halted entirely in 2015. However, in 2023 Bulgari revived the Daniel Roth name as a sister brand to Gerald Genta (another legacy brand of a famous watch designer). Just like Daniel Roth in 1988, their first watch is the Tourbillon Souscription, but this time a remake of the original.

Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription
Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription

In order to do this legendary watch justice, Bulgari have employed the full might of their LVMH connections and global horological friends. The DR001 manual movement was developed and assembled entirely by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, a manufacture that is heavily stepping up its haute horological prowess. The gold dial with Clous de Paris guilloche was then produced in the workshop of Kari Voutilainen, one of the leading independent watchmakers working at the moment. The new watch is a limited edition of 20-pieces, and all have already sold out.

Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription

While Daniel Roth the man has no connection to the modern version of the brand on a practical level, it does have his vocal support and backing. He said, “it brings me so much joy to see the Tourbillon being reborn. Oh yes! Modern watchmakers are remaking the watch, with just as much taste, just as much passion in reconstructing it, no deviations, staying loyal to the style I created. They’ve even improved it more, down to the finest details. Everything I’ve done is great to revisit.” What is certain is that if the modern Daniel Roth continues to do justice to the original, it’s an exciting time to be a Roth fan.

Price and Specs:

Model: Daniel Roth Tourbillon Souscription
Case: 38.6mm height x 35.5mm width x 9.2mm thickness, 18k yellow gold
Dial: Cloud de Paris guilloche
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Daniel Roth calibre DR001, manual winding, 19 jewels, 206 parts
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 80h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, tourbillon
Strap: Brown calfskin leather with yellow gold pin buckle
Price: CHF 140,000 (approx. £123,000), limited to 20 pieces

More details at Daniel Roth.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.