DuBois et fils DBF006 Bidynator
The DuBois et fils DBF006 Bidynator features a self-winding movement dating back to the 1950s. However, while its internal organs are nearly 70 years old, its face and torso are youthful and fresh. Angus Davies appraises this fascinating combination at close quarters and shares his thoughts.
When I was in my early twenties, I remember chatting to a friend’s grandmother. I can still recall her stating, “In my day, fruit was sweeter, salads were tastier and meat was more flavoursome. In fact, everything was better”. At the time, I silently dismissed her remarks and felt she was looking back at the past through rose-tinted spectacles.
Now, I am 52 years of age and more than a little weatherworn. I often feel a little detached from today’s society and, like the aforementioned grandmother, I view many objects from the past in a more positive light than their present-day counterparts.
I wonder if Thomas Steinemann, the CEO of Swiss watch brand, DuBois et fils, shares my view of the world. Recently, his company has looked to the past and used a movement that was invented nearly 70 years ago, the Bidynator. This vintage movement made by FELSA was the first automatic movement with a ‘double-sided winding rotor’, today more commonly known as a bidirectional rotor. The movement was originally intended for watches worn by manual workers, hence it had to be robust.
Now, this calibre can be found within a contemporary new model, the DuBois et fils DBF006. This watch is available in five variants. Two models, the DBF006-01 and DBF006-02 are presented in steel and encompass silver-toned details throughout. Indeed, even the brushed steel movement exhibits a silvery hue. Three additional models, the DBF006-03, DBF006-04 and DBF006-05 feature rose gold plated hands, indexes and crown. Furthermore, the movement in each of these latter three models has been rose gold plated. The prices range from CHF 3,950 for the steel only variants to CHF 4,950 for those models endowed with golden highlights.
Image – DBF006-05 – limited to 11 pieces (sold out) – CHF 4,950
The DBF006-01, a limited edition of 99 pieces, recently caught my eye with its silver-toned dial and blue dial accents and is the focal point of this feature.
The dial’s epidermis sidesteps the customary flat canvas in favour of a domed dial plane which tapers sharply downwards near the minuterie. This feature immediately enriches the vista and provides an intriguing aesthetic appearance. Moreover, when the dial is viewed from the side, the box-shaped sapphire crystal distorts the minuterie, further highlighting the sharply cambered nature of the dial’s periphery. Rest assured, when viewed directly from above, the minuterie is distortion-free and notably legible.
DuBois et fils doesn’t seem to subscribe to convention. While the hour and minute hands are the dauphine-type variety, the design features coniferous shaped openings, a subtle reference to the brand’s logo. The central sweep seconds hand is presented in cornflower blue, matching other branding on the dial.
Although DuBois et fils has chosen to equip the DBF006 with a vintage movement from the 1950s, the dial exudes modernity from every square millimetre of its being. The supremely slender batons exhibit a notable degree of elegance.
A date aperture is located at 3 o’clock, revealing black numerals set against a white disc. It eschews any frame or border, providing a clean, uncluttered appearance.
The DuBois et fils DBF006 measures 42mm in diameter and has a case height of 12mm. Personally, I find the proportions of this watch perfectly suit my frame. Those prospective purchasers of slight build may find the DBF003 model more suitable.
Ever since 2010, when the Maison was acquired by Thomas Steinemann, DuBois et fils has shown an obsession for habillage. For example, the brand’s cases frequently encompass numerous finishes, often positioned in close proximity. This fixation with refinement has no doubt heightened production costs, but this is soon justified after the briefest tactile encounter. The DuBois et fils DBF006 upholds that reputation.
The crown is highly polished, features a subtly-fluted grip and includes a recessed depiction of the firm’s fir tree logo on its vertical flank. It does not inhibit free movement of the arm, gouge the wrist or present any problems in use.
Unlike most watches from the 1950s, the DuBois et fils DBF006 is endowed with an exhibition caseback, affording views of the self-winding FELSA 4007 N.
The watch is supplied on a calf leather strap, featuring a protective rubber lining and is paired with a stainless steel pin buckle, encompassing both polished and brushed finishes.
DuBois et fils has chosen to reject the ubiquitous Côtes de Genève motif in favour of a brushed finish. This decoration extends to the various bridges and rotor. The brand has also chosen to embellish the rotor with its logo. Furthermore, the leading edge of oscillating weight is snailed.
On the gold plated version of the movement, the brand’s logo is also accompanied with the year the company was founded, 1785. A circlet framing the movement is marked with the text ‘FELSA 4007 N’ and ‘Bidynator’.
Image – DBF006-05 – limited to 11 pieces (sold out) – CHF 4,950
The Calibre FELSA 4007 N has a frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5Hz) and features 25 jewels. The lone barrel harnesses sufficient energy to run autonomously for 42 hours. The rate is altered using a curb adjuster.
The vintage movements in the Swiss marque’s possession have spent most of their lives in darkness, packed in cardboard. The brand states these movements have been unpacked, inspected, disassembled, cleaned, lubricated and checked. I have no reason to doubt this claim. Most pertinently, DuBois et fils clearly has confidence in the reliability of the FELSA 4007 N, offering a 5 year warranty with each new watch.
The movements are not elaborately decorated but, based on their origins, promise reliable and robust service.
Despite using a vintage movement, DuBois et fils has clearly favoured contemporary design codes. The dial is both attractive and highly legible. The case is generously sized, appealing to modern tastes. Moreover, the detailing on the case is exquisite and tastefully blends contrasting surfaces to comely effect.
Part of the DuBois et fils’s DNA is that all of its models are limited-editions, conferring an agreeable dose of exclusivity. Considering the modest pricing of each DBF006 model, the quality of its constituent parts is very impressive and the fully assembled watch proves to be a beautiful horological ensemble.
Despite my predilection for items made in yesteryear, many of today’s objects brim with virtue and encompass new technologies for the betterment of the consumer. Nevertheless, as Thomas Steinemann and DuBois et fils demonstrate, there is much to be said for blending a characterful movement of the past with a contemporary dial and case. Indeed, irrespective of the consumer’s age, the DBF006 model offers an array of qualities which are relevant for watch collectors, young and old alike.
- Model: DuBois et fils DBF006 Bidynator
- Reference: DBF006-01
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; Height 12mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystals to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date
- Movement: Calibre FELSA 4007 N automatic; self-winding movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve = 42 hours
- Strap: Calf leather strap, featuring a protective rubber lining and paired with a stainless steel pin buckle
- Price: CHF 3,950 (RRP as at 23.2.2020)
- Limited Edition: 99 pieces