"Pierre DeRoche?? Never heard, another microbrand?" That is a quite common first reaction from many of my watch friends, some of them even professionally involved into the watch business, when I mention my new alarm watch. So - who or what is Pierre DeRoche?
The best answer can be given with a short history (there is no long one :) ). Pierre DeRoche company was set up in 2004 by Pierre and Carole Dubois. Pierre is a descendant (4th generation) of a famous watchmaker family Dubois. Rings a bell? Dubois-Depraz? The Dubois-Depraz? Well, yes. Pierre DeRoche is a close - family connected - company to Dubois-Depraz (DD) company.
Namely, the company DD has been set up 121 years ago (1901) by Marcel Dépraz, Pierre Dubois great grandfather. Today, the company, based in the Vallée de Joux, has around 340 employees and is fully independent and managed by three Dubois brothers. Until 2017 DD was managed by two brothers and Pierre managed his own Pierre DeRoche brand. In 2017 Pierre left his brand and joint his two brothers in managing DD. One of his brother is running the commercial department, and his 2ndbrother is the Company's Chairman. And there is also Pierre's cousin who runs the technical department.
While Dubois Dépraz works for most of the high end watch brands, developing for them additional complications or manufacturing components and does not produce watches under DD brand, Pierre DeRoche is focused on watches with mid range complications and pretty all the complications housed in its watches have been developed exclusively for the brand by Dubois Dépraz.
So you can say that Pierre DeRoche is a kind of DD playground for it's own brand watches.
Pierre DeRoche has quite an astonishing collection of watches, divided into three main lines: TNT, GRANDCLIFF and SPLITROCK. You can check all the collections here: https://www.pierrederoche.com/en/
As an alarm watch collector, my particular focus was on TNT collection since within this collection one very interesting watch is hidden - TNT RendesVoux. This watch was developed in 2011 for celebrating the 110th anniversary of the Dubois Depraz company. It is limited to 201 pieces in titanium case version (with steel pushers, bezel and crown), as far as I know they assemble each watch only upon order. Apart from the titanium case version, a titanium/gold version limited to 21 pieces is also available.
All TNT watches have the same shape of the case and RendesVoux is no exception here. It gives an impression that this is quite a big, heavy and a bulky watch with the diameter of 45,5mm without crown and pushers, and a height of 17mm. Watch looks even bigger due to several pushers almost integrated within the case. Despite the big circumference of the watch, the dial is relatively small, just 34mm. This disproportion gives a frightening look of the watch.
Watch is powered by DD 960 movement based on the Dubois Dépraz internal reference. In order to avoid a "jungle" in its watches/movements references, Pierre DeRoche has its own referenciation and this movement is marked within Pierre DeRoche as PDR 4015. DD 960 or PDR 4015 is a fully Dubois Dépraz in house development movement which is made exclusively for Pierre DeRoche. So this movement does not exist in any other watch.
DD 960 is a modular construction movement. The basic movement (providing Hour/Minutes/Seconds) is an ETA 2892 movement. To this movement DD added it's own date complication in a separate sub-dial instead of standard ETA date on a ring and it's own 24h indicator in another sub-dial. But the main addition is an alarm module with the 2 gongs/2 hammers ringing system. Of course modular construction stipulates that alarm is powered separately from the time function.
Alarm module is very unusual, I can even say strange. The entire module is operated via the pushers, the crown is used only for the standard watch functions (setting the time and date and manual winding of the time spring barrel). There are three pushers. First is at 4 o'clock and this one is "normal" - it set's the alarm on/off. That kind of pusher is often seen on other alarm wrist watches as well. But then we have a pusher on 8 o'clock - which winds the alarm! In order to wind the alarm one has to push this pusher 2-3 times. And you have to push quite hard in order to wind the alarm fully. The feeling is strange! Since the dial is transparent and you can see the front of the movement, you can see how the entire bridge set below "Pierre DeRoche" sign moves forward and backward while winding. Very interesting.
The last pusher at 10 o'clock is intended for setting the alarm. With each full press of the pusher the alarm hand moves backward for approximately one hour. Gentle push moves hand on a shorter intervals but to be honest - it is extremely difficult to set alarm to the exact time. Luckily there is a detour, I am not sure if it is there by mistake or on purpose. Namely when you set time backwards and hour hands arrives to the alarm hand, the hour hand "grabs" the alarm hand and takes alarm hand with it. Again, quite commonly seen on many alarm movements. By this you can set alarm precisely to the minute. When alarm is set then you have to set the hour again turning hands forward.
Even though the dial is not big compared to the whole watch size, a lot is happening there. Outer ring has a minutes markings, a shy 12 at the top and not so shy 3,6,9 hour red markings. Inner ring is intended for alarm setting with explicit 20, 40 minutes sign in every hour and 10,30,50 markings in between. Every full hour which is also 5 minutes marking for the time is marked with strong white indicator.
I already mentioned that date and 24h indicator have their own sub-dials. Both quite explicit with a lot of numbers and distinct hands. And then we have three another red smaller hands, which serves the alarm module - alarm hand, alarm power indicator and alarm on/off indicator. And, not to forget, the alarm bell which moves while ringing. Since the dial is transparent and front part of the movement can be seen, all together gives a confusing impression. But what is good in this confusion is at least the fact that the minute and the hour hands are big, well done and they are very dominant in the entire dial. So you don't have problems reading the time. Even during the night. Lume is very good!
Are all those indicators really needed? In my opinion, no. Less is more, I would say. For example, I would remove 24h indicator, I would also stay with the standard date ring format, and by this dial would be cleaner and more user friendly. I would also change the transparent look to a more normal dial even though I like the winding alarm detail. So I would maybe cover the left, more boring part of the dial. All alarm indicators are useful, needed. The alarm bell is attractive and all together all those indicators and the bell are the essential parts of the alarm wrist watch, so I would leave all this as it is.
Since the alarm is the main feature of the watch, let's hear how the alarm bells. From the name of the watch RendesVous it is quite obvious that the main purpose of the watch is not a wake up watch but more a reminder to a meeting watch. Nothing unusual, a lot of alarm wrist watches in the history were developed as a reminder watches and not as a morning alarm watches. From today's perspective where we all have our calendars in the phones this is quite unusual but at the end of the day, the general idea of wrist watch itself is outdated in this respect, right? Phones can do all what watches used to do.
Let's go back to the alarm. It just rings beautifully, sound is very subtly and gentle. Totally different to annoying buzzers from most of the wrist watches where hammer strikes on the pin.
Fully powered alarm rings approximately 14 seconds. Let me also point out all the tiny details seen on the movement while watch is ringing. Wonderful! Ringing justifies the decision of the transparent dial. Again, just right side of the movement.
Let's go to another important question. How does this watch feels on the wrist. First impression might be that the watch is totally unwearable but funny thing, that is not the case. Watch sits on the wrist very comfortable, the construction of the lugs and how strap is fitted to the case enable the strap to goes down the wrist directly and hugs the wrist nicely. No issues here at all. But of course you need to have wrist of at least 18,5 cm for this watch. Titanium also provides that watch is not heavy at all, it is lighter than you would expect.
I don't like the safety folding clasp which is very big, fastens with difficulties. I also wonder if the alligator leather strap with the folding clasp is a good choice for a "sporty" watch, which even has a 100m water resistance. I would like to try some rubber strap instead but the construction and the lug fittings do not allow an easy change of the strap. You need a special screwdriver to unscrew the lug and this screwdriver is not provided.
Since I already mentioned packaging... Well, the watch is packed modestly. Just a relatively small box, far from extravagant, without any additional features. Within the box, a booklet with the basic information about the watch and instruction manual. And on the back page of the booklet there is also the place for the stamp and proof of purchase. So even the standard warranty card is not present. I must say I was a bit disappointed. But on the other hand it serves it's purpose and it does not ask for a lot of space in my over crowded closet. Again, sometimes maybe less is more. Still, I would be glad if the tool for the strap replacement would be given and if watch would be equipped with another rubber strap. Or - just a thought - maybe even a titanium bracelet? Seems that I will never know how would those combinations look like.
Price of the watch? A lot. 20.000 EUR with taxes for the EU customers. The most expensive TNT model. Of course you receive a very unique, limited watch, with inhouse swiss movement. So it's hard to say anything, high end watch prices go higher and higher, this is no exemption. Sadly for us, watch lovers.
At the end, I must congratulate the PR of the Pierre DeRoche company. After my purchase I send to the company an email asking for some additional information about the company and the watch itself. They were very polite, fast and they answered all my questions in no time. Well appreciated!