The Ernest Borel Duke collection are available in steel or rose-gold-plated steel, to suit a variety of tastes. Although normally bought by men, for men, the watch I tested won me over for several reasons.
From the outside, the watch delivers a simple message: less is more. The dial and the case are stripped down to just the essentials. The functions are highly legible, and the design follows the dictates of simplicity, resulting in confident sophistication. The curved lugs hug the case harmoniously, and the timepiece embodies a perfect marriage of mechanical functionality and aesthetic purity. The transparent sapphire caseback gives a view of the rotor and movement, and the company’s technical prowess. The watch is fitted with either a black or brown leather strap, with pin buckle.
This model from the Duke collection is driven by an automatic mechanical movement. The Swiss-made DD9000 calibre is polished and finished with Geneva striping, and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph, giving a power reserve of 42 hours. It is also water-resistant to 50 metres.
The Duke features an impressive array of practical functions and welcome complications: hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, month and moon phase. The hours, minutes and seconds are indicated by three hands, in steel or rose gold depending on the model. A fourth blued hand tipped with a crescent moon points to the date around the dial’s inner circle. The brand logo, symbolic of Ernest Borel’s reputation for romanticism, is at the top of the dial in the 12 o’clock position. The moon phase window is located at 6 o’clock, just below the dial cutout.
When you appreciate fine watches, it’s hard to keep your enthusiasm to yourself. Which means that it’s difficult not to take every opportunity to show off your wrist. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing this timepiece for a few weeks, and received plenty of compliments. My colleagues all revealed a widely-shared appreciation of the minimalist traditional look, paired with the complexity of the mechanical movement glimpsed through the dial. Some were shocked to see a 41 mm case on a more slender woman’s wrist. Others thought that it actually added to the effect. It certainly makes a change from the usual conventions. Yes, 41 mm is big for a small wrist, but the gently sloping lugs nevertheless made it comfortable to wear and easy on the eye.