Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar 2117 - Custom made
DANIEL ROTH PERPETUAL CALENDAR - CUSTOM MADE
Pink Gold | Guilloché black dial
Daniel Roth was destined to be a horological pioneer. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather worked as watchmakers in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The young boy Roth naturally spent most of his childhood in a watchmaking repair shop in the South of France.
After learning the technical craft in Nice himself, Roth moved to the cradle of haute horlogerie, the Vallée de Joux, where he spent the first seven years of his professional career at Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet. It is said that he was the only watchmaker from outside the valley working at the Manufacture in Le Brassus.
Standing out as a remarkably gifted watchmaker, Roth was offered the chance by Jacques and Pierre Chaumet, the owners of Breguet at the time, to put the brand back on the map as a well-respected horological entity during the quartz crisis. In his fourteen years at the French brand, Roth moved the production to the Vallée de Joux in 1976 – where the world’s finest watchmakers and suppliers where to be found – while reviving the archives by reawakening the spirit of the brand’s founder Abraham-Louis Breguet, exalting the brand’s former horological majesty.
It was in 1988 that Daniel Roth started to work under his own name, with the first timepieces coming to live in 1989, in his modest manufacture in the midst of the snowy Jura mountains at Le Sentier. A move that might surprise little today but was considered noticeably bold at the time as it was uncommon for watchmakers to work under their own name, making Roth a trailblazer (for independent watchmakers such as F.P. Journe, who followed in his Roth’s footsteps a decade later).
While being strongly moved by the style and inventive anima of Abraham-Louis Breguet, translating into Breguet-inspired design choices such as hand guilloché dials, blued steel hands and precious metal cases, Roth transcended his horological past by offering a contemporary take on watchmaking. The double-ellipse case and sharply executed pinstripe guilloché dials soon became part of his modern signature.
His manufacture had a limited production in the early days (of an estimated 500 timepieces a year), as its creations are known for being inventive and detailed with hand-finishing dials and smartly decorated movements, including a tourbillon with an 8-day power reserve, the instantaneous perpetual calendar and the Westminster Grande Sonnerie Carillon (the only automatic four-gong chiming wristwatch in production in the nineties).
In 2000 Bulgari Group bought the company and the brand continued in the spirit of Daniel Roth, without him being involved as a watchmaker any longer. For this reason, the early pieces from the initial seven-year production period – with timepieces produced under Roth’s hands – are highly collectable.
Today Daniel Roth produces roughly three bespoke watches a year under the name of Jean Daniel Nicolas, a family endeavor that is run with his son Jean and wife Nicolas.
This Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar reference 2117 or C117 is not only a testimony to the watchmaker’s heritage, being one of the early timepieces manufactured by Daniel Roth, but embodies his spirit intimately as it was designed as a ‘Custom piece’ for a good friend of the watchmaker in 1993/1994.
The perpetual calendar model – reference 2117 or C117 – was introduced in 1993 at Baselworld for an offer of circa 80.000 Swiss Francs. Only very important customers had the privilege of having a custom piece made, recognizable by the lacking engraved numbers on the case back of the watch. Its original owner went to see Daniel Roth in Le Sentier to choose this piece and the desired customization.
But before going into detail on that, let’s have a closer look at the distinctive design of this marvelous perpetual calendar, hinting to the watchmaker’s heritage.
The double-ellipse case is made out of pink gold offering a true statement on the wrist. Having a unique shape – being neither round nor rectangular, yet finely balancing the two – its caliber measures 30,5 mm x 27,5 mm x 5,78 mm, equally bold as comfortable to wear.
The timepiece is characterized by a high level of hand-finishing featuring the signature pinstripe guilloché pattern. The hand-engraved, black dial made out of solid gold (18kt) is visually stunning yet highly legible due to its colour contrasts and Roman numerals placed on a brushed chapter ring. At 12 the dial is signed ‘DANIEL ROTH’. The watch stepped bezel and sharp, straight lugs underline the strong presence of the dial.
Aesthetically in line with the rest of his collection, the sub-dial at six o’clock indicates the date on the periphery and leap year (‘Bis’), written in French on the inside, marking the watch’s main function. Two smaller sub-dials, overlapping the hour and minute track, indicate the day of the week (left) and month (right). A brilliantly unorthodox way of displaying all the information a perpetual calendar needs to convey.
Early catalogues hint to the bespoke level of working of Daniel Roth, as this perpetual calendar was available on request in yellow and grey gold, as well as platinum. This rich variety was translated to the dial, with options from electric blue to salmon. The colour combination of this piece hasn’t been seen very often on the scene.
Two versions of this model – developed in collaboration with the famed independent watchmaker Philippe Dufour – exist: one with date and month aperture and one without (here at hand).
The stunning attention to detail speaks from the personalized pink gold rotor, seen through the open sapphire caseback, hand-engraved with the initials of the previous owner (‘TV’) – a very rare design choice for Daniel Roth.
This Daniel Roth 2117 or C117 is assembled by hand and powered by the Lemania 8810 movement, an exquisitely finished caliber of which only the handcrafted details have taken up more than a hundred man hours. With 30 jewels, Côtes de Genève finishing, 38-hour power reserve and a 28,800 A/h oscillating balance, it dictates watchmaking at its finest.
Completing the movement took about six or seven months, recounts Dufour, and the watch only appeared after a mere two-year period of its initial announcement. This had to do with the proposed challenge of this timepiece being the world’s first instantaneous perpetual calendar, with all the indicators instantly flicking over at midnight.
Roth and Dufour struggled with the aperture-version, where the day and date slowly transition at midnight instead of jumping instantaneously as too much energy was required to live up to its trial. The version with the sub-dials for the day and date emerged from this horological contest, decreasing the force needed to move all the gears, making the perpetual calendar here at hand not only a unique piece made by the legendary watchmaker himself but also a veracious instantaneous perpetual calendar.
This Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar reference 2117 is a unique piece in as-new condition considering its age and recent full service, with only minor signs of wear on the case. It comes as a watch only with its original pink gold pin buckle, original alligator Daniel Roth strap and Saffiano strap from the Mr Watchley collection on the watch.
With special thanks to connoisseur @Ciaca1970 and @Ciaca70 for offering insights on both the brand and model by sharing catalogue extracts amongst others.
If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment.
We are based in Ghent, Belgium
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No stock kept on site
|Reference||2117 or C117|
Calibre DR based on Lemania 8810
|Size (Case)||30,5mm x 27,5mm
|Material (Case)||Pink gold|
|Bracelet||Black Saffiano and original DR croco|
|Condition||As new, fully serviced|