Love or hate, just don’t turn a blind eye. The Dubois Dépraz timing module may be the best or worst secret kept by the watchmaking industry, depending on who you ask. For small manufacturers struggling to reduce costs and looking for a solution, Dubois Dépraz timing modules are simple and practical. Watchmakers usually hate it because it is difficult to repair and all the wheel trains, springs and levers are sandwiched between two thick plates.
Remove the bridge plate, you can clearly see all the gear train, lever and shaft gear structure
Dubois Dépraz dates back to 1901, its predecessor was founded by Marcel Dépraz, and has developed rapidly. The company step by step, step by step, until the breakthrough in 1983: Calibre2000 was born, this movement is better known for its timing module. Although rarely mentioned, many of the watches we know and love today would never have existed without Calibre2000.
Watchmaker carefully removes parts of chronograph module
What is the module?
What makes this small movement so unique? The traditional movement adopts a one-piece design, and all parts operate in an integrated manner, and the parts of the ‘basic’ movement directly interact with the timing mechanism. In a modular movement, the basic movement transmits power to the chronograph module via a single wheel connected to a central seconds wheel. The module not only carries the timing function, but also the conventional pointer is connected to the module and operates normally. Interestingly, the basic movement is not necessarily mechanical, but quartz is also possible.
Omega Caliber 1120 caliber equipped with Dubois Dépraz backpack chronograph module
Like most products, timing modules have their advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, as mentioned earlier, its architecture makes maintenance work cumbersome. On the other hand, it also provides many Swiss watchmaking companies with the possibility of producing chronographs (which could not have been produced). Autonomy). The Dubois Dépraz timing module gives these companies the freedom to use their own basic movements without the additional time and capital costs of developing a timing movement. Or maybe the company does have a budget, but feels unnecessary, Dubois Dépraz timing module provides a satisfactory choice for these companies.
Anonimo Militare panda dial watch, showing the classic layout of the Dubois Dépraz chronograph module
Over the years, many Swiss watch companies have used the Dubois Dépraz timing module, and this list may be surprising. The first is likely to come to mind, such as Anonimo, Raymond Weil, Breitling, and OMEGA. These brands are obvious, and many watches use ETA as the movement. What may surprise people are RICHARDMILLE Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet. The former uses the Dubois Dépraz timing module in RM011 (Vaucher basic movement) and RM016, while the latter uses it for Cal.3126 / Caliber 3840 with Royal Oak Offshore.
Legendary TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph equipped with the famous Dubois Dépraz chronograph module
The future of modules
More and more manufacturers are turning away from ETA, hoping to master their own production capacity. We have to wonder, where will Dubois Dépraz, the relatively unknown Swiss watch giant, go? Taking Tudor and Breitling as examples, the former has developed the MT5612 autonomous self-winding movement, while the latter has the B01 autonomous chronograph movement. In the spirit of reciprocity and win-win, the two companies signed an agreement-Tudor provided an automatic winding movement for Breitling, which was transformed into B20; Breitling gave the Tudor watch a chronograph movement, which was transformed into MT5613.
Tudor chronograph watch with Dubois Dépraz chronograph module
So what conclusions can we draw? Although many companies do want to develop their own cores, they are not always possible for various reasons. Personally, modularity is not the type of chronograph movement I like, which should not be called the pinnacle of fine watchmaking. However, the timing module is simple and practical, and has a good response. As a major pillar of the industry, I believe that it will continue to exist and be active in the foreseeable future. (Photo / text watch home Xu Chaoyang)