The alchemists of the XXI century – De Bethune


What does the fifteenth anniversary mean for the industry, where many companies can boast a centuries-long history? It turns out to be a lot, especially if the watch you created has already become a synonym for the "new classics", and the developed technologies boggle the imagination and beacon for supporters of unrestrained onward movement.


The New Testament

The company De Bethune, founded in 2002, by an avid collector of David Zanetti and a hereditary watchmaker Denis Flageollet, was destined to become one of the most prominent independent manufactories of the era. Similar to other successful niche brands of the early noughties, their products stood apart next to the products of brands known for centuries and gave more priority to personality and a fresh look. As it is pointless to argue with the Swiss authorities in the field of traditions of the XIX century, why not to offer to lovers of high-end mechanics the chorology of the third millennium?

One of the incommutably laws of industry reads as follows: relatively low production levels almost automatically mean a limited number of exemplars that provided high quality only generates additional interest. It turned to be enough serious collectors, who had time to satisfy their cravings for classics and wanted to get an essentially fresh designs of sizes, cases, and those independent who managed to survive in the challenging competitive atmosphere feel today more confident than ever before.


A wonderful new world

The philosophy of the brand was originally built on the fact that the engineering thought had already stepped forward enough since the time of Abraham-Louis Breguet and Jean-Adrian Philippe. Zanetti and Flageollet only need to prove it to everyone else. In just a few years, the manufactory was able to obtain a number of patents on fundamental details of the watch mechanism, and each of their new models was striving to become a miniature exhibition of scientific and technological achievements. The traditional balance wheel gave way to a unique design based on tempered and therefore acquiring a blue tint titanium and platinum weights. The system of silicone escapement was invented and constructed from the ground up. Even such a seemingly insignificant item as lugs has undergone a thorough revision. In De Bethune version, they are part of a special platform attached under the back cover, and are able to adapt to the size of your hand. As emphasized by the creators, in addition to the obvious practical meaning, the design allows accentuating the rounded shape of the cases visually and refers to the ideal geometry of a pocket watch.


Blue is the warmest color

A notable role in the DNA of the brand plays titanium. It is used not only in functional parts of the main mechanism, but also as a decorative element. According to Denis Flageollet, it all started with a routine experiment. The Co-founder and Technical Director of the brand was not satisfied with the reliability of some steel parts, and he had to subject them to high temperatures. Having decided from self-interest to repeat the procedure with titanium, he got almost a perfect material to work with, and with a deep characteristic color.

As engineering improvements turned themselves into aesthetic beauty, why disturb them? As a result, the blue accents are to find on almost any De Bethune product. Moreover, in the design of DB28 Skybridge, DB28T Tourbillon Kind Of Blue or in the novelty of the year 2017 DB25 Milky Way the metal sparkling its blue is totally dominant.


Space, not anticipation

 The Dream Watch serie stands out even compared to other harmonious avant-garde creations. As the name implies, these singular pieces were initially developed with the purpose to surprise the experts, and sometimes to challenge their sense of beauty. The most up to date DW5, and its subsequent variations, you just want to call a space ship on your wrist: a gleaming titanium case, a jumping hour display, a three-dimensional lunar calendar, rotating like an alien engine. Of course, not everyone is ready to join the fans of such a creative futuristic carnival, but about every watch item of this kind creators can easily say: "There was nothing similar before".

DW5 Meteorite raises the stakes even higher. Dials from meteorites are extremely rare, but they are still created by a few manufactories. De Bethune was not afraid and made the whole case, retaining the quirky uneven texture of the stone. To those wishing to try the product from other worlds a better possibility may not be submitted. Inside a ruby replacing the crown it was decided to place a diamond, as a result, this element began to resemble either an eye, or a nozzle from a science fiction movie about aliens. In addition, on the reverse side of the product a tourbillon is located, which is wonderfully harmonious in such a context.

 Old and new

During its fifteen-year history of the brand managed to surprise not only endless imagination, but also skillful treatment of the usual form. On its account are several outstanding costume models at the same time like the DB16 Tourbillon Regulator, Tourbillon DB25LT and of course the incredible Maxichrono Tourbillon, awarded the Grand Prix d'horlogerie de Genève in the category "Chronographs".

However, under the elegant gold casing and a respectable enamel dials is still hiding the twenty-first century approach. In addition, of course there is some imagination. For example, two drums of DB25 World Traveller provide the product with a power reserve for five days and guarantee the accuracy both at full and at almost down winding and indication of the second time zone in the middle of the dial does not only lush with decorative elements – there are no hands at all here. A titanium sphere moving circularly replaces them.


Watching the central five pointers Maxichrono Tourbillon smartly reinterprets the traditional chronograph design one can easily get disappointed in a popular scheme with mandatory small dials. Yes, three rings of digital labels may seem redundant at first sight, but their cast-iron logic, harmonious proportions and no need to hide, an attractive appearance in the antiquity spirit unusual for the brand prepossess in a minute. Breguet hands with distinctive apples are responsible for the hours and minutes, the others are in charge for the chronograph. The minute hand is highlighted in gold for a better visibility.


In pursuit of the ideal

In the field of metier d'art De Bethune could compete with even the old-timers of the industry. In addition to the aforementioned enamel techniques, the watchmaker of the company often resort to the guilloche and hand engraving. This is especially noticeable in the limited series Imperial Fountain and The Ninth Mayan Underworld. The most complicated figures of the zodiac signs, a dial full of symbols and indication, carved from a single piece of gold - such watch will make hearts of even the most conservative admirers of haute horlogerie leap. However, under a sapphire crystal back cover may hide also a tourbillon with a thirty-second pointer!

 More than anything about the spirit of the company founders can tell one speaking episode five years ago. After several years of research in the field of MRI-descent, able to increase the oscillations speed by ten times, and hence the accuracy of mechanical watches, the manufactory decided not to patent the intermediate developments.

Instead of building legal barriers, the Swiss invited colleagues and journalists and shared with them his thoughts. According to an official statement, the promising direction is able to push the industry for decades to come, but the goal is still far away and, therefore, does not stop industry to think about it together. Modern alchemists of De Bethune as they call themselves jokingly are not just impassioned with chorology of the XXI century – they are ready to share it with the interested ones.