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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Another niche fine-watch brand, De Bethune is among the founders of the Geneva Watch Days. After the manufacture could only celebrate the 10th anniversary of their famed DB28 model online this spring due to the pandemic, they brought a series of novel versions to the Geneva Watch Days.

De Bethune is a really versatile and interesting brand, a favourite of many geek watch collectors, and for a good reason. Their timepieces are not only distinctive in design, but are developed and manufactured in-house. This spring they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the DB28; maybe their most diverse collection. On the occasion, a set of three new watches were released, all bearing the signatures of the DB28 in different interpretations. 

In July the Art in Time boutique in Monaco (a watchmaking gallery for niche brands, opened in Monaco’s new ‘One Monte Carlo’ complex in 2019, an initiative of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele) exhibited four timepieces from De Bethune: DB25 Starry Varius, DB28 Dark Shadows, DB28 XP Tourbillon and DB28 XP Starry Sky. 

The show went on at the Geneva Watch Days, where we tried on the DB28 XP Starry Sky, the DB28 XP Tourbillon, the DB28 XP (on these models the XP refers to ‘extra plat’ meaning extra flat) and the latest DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon. 

DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon – a limited edition of 10 pieces

The DB28 timepiece of De Bethune has a great reputation for years – it was also named ‘Best Watch of the Year’ in 2011 and was awarded the Aiguille d’Or prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). All DB28 watches have a very recognisable case with the innovative floating lungs designed for an added wearing comfort and the crown at 12 o’clock – inspired by pocket watches.

The new DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon features a 43mm steel case, the DB2019V5 manufacture movement and the signature delta-shaped bridge, now in sapphire crystal. Since the blue sapphire is transparent you can admire the gears and two barrels underneath. Each of the sapphire components is framed in polished titanium. The blue hours chapter ring in blued titanium offers a nice contrast with the tiny polished metal balls that mark the hours. 

At six o’clock you find the tourbillon blessed with an extraordinarily lightweight cage (0.18 grams). It comprises of 63 components (the lightest of them weighs around an unimaginable 0.0001 grams) and it revolves in every thirty seconds.

DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon
De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon

DB28 XP Tourbillon

By De Bethune’s standards this is a more minimalistic piece. It also has the ultra-light tourbillon at six o’clock, surrounded by a white dial with hand-engraved ‘barley-corn’ guilloché pattern (like on the De Bethune DB28 Digitale). It is highlighted by the blued hour circle and the chamfered blue polished titanium rim. 

The 4Hz and 6-days DB2009V4 calibre has a titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts and a special balance spring with a flat terminal curve. 

DB28 XP Tourbillon
De Bethune DB28 XP Tourbillon
De Bethune DB28 XP Tourbillon
De Bethune DB28 XP Tourbillon

DB28 XP Starry Sky 

The brand can depict the sky in a very original way. The dial of the DB28 Starry Sky is in titanium with white gold stars – the stars are studded with a whole host of tiny gold pins individually. The artisan uses hand-guided laser engraving then enriches the sky with a multitude of smaller stars. To complete the process and further accentuate the visual effect, 24K gold brings an additional sparkle. On this piece micro-light finishing also decorates the dial – this engraving technique applied to a flat surface helps to effectively reinforce a given structure or motif. 

Just like in other De Bethune starry pieces, the clients can choose the specific constellation they prefer to have on their timepiece. 

DB28 XP Starry Sky
De Bethune DB28 XP Starry Sky
DB28 XP Starry Sky
De Bethune DB28 XP Starry Sky

DB28 XP

The ultra-thin profile and calibre (DB2115V6) makes this DB28 timepiece even more sophisticated – it has a 43mm x 7.2mm titanium case and a mirror-polished titanium bridge on the dial. 

Mirror or black polishing is quite a feat. The surface of the part is polished until it resembles a mirror and the metal perfectly reflects the light. It can take up to three hours of polishing to achieve this result and it requires steady hands, exceptional patience and great experience.

As De Bethune describes the watch ‘Quintessentially DB28’ – it is definitely an individualistic and beautiful watch to wear.

De Bethune DB28 XP
De Bethune DB28 XP

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