This year, independent watchmaker De Bethune is celebrating the 10th anniversary of what’s probably its most recognizable watch, the DB28. The jubilee began with the introduction, earlier this year, of the DB28XP Collection (XP for extra-plate), with three stunning new models. Now, as part of the new models launched during the Geneva Watch Days, the brand takes its modern, openworked “Steel Wheels” concept and adds sapphire transparency and complexity in the form of a tourbillon. Meet the new and impressive De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels Saphir Tourbillon.
Like the previous, no-tourbillon DB28 Steel Wheels, the idea was to reveal as much as possible of the movement’s technicality and decoration – we can blame De Bethune for that, the movement truly deserves to be seen. Now, with the brand’s signature elements – the delta-shaped bridge, the use of polished titanium and blued elements, the typical case – a new and fairly complex model has been launched, the DB28 Steel Wheels Saphir Tourbillon.
The case retains the specific architecture of the collection, with a round central container onto which the articulated lugs are attached. Thanks to the articulated lugs, and despite the 43mm diameter, the watch is a joy on the wrist and feels more compact than you’d expect. The case is made of highly polished titanium, resulting in a bright, reflective surface, which is far more vibrant than stainless steel. The crown is, as usual, positioned at 12 o’clock – an ode to ancient pocket watches – and the watch is worn on an alligator strap.
Moving to the dial, there’s a lot going on, yet the distinctive look of De Bethune has been thoroughly respected. Visible at first is the triangular bridge, which has been executed in blue sapphire. Underneath are the two barrels whose drum covers are also made of blue sapphire, offering an unimpeded view on the internal mechanics. One thing to note is that all the sapphire elements are framed by thin stripes of titanium, an ode to ancient stained glass windows. Framing the dial is an hours chapter ring in blued titanium with polished pearls for the hours. The hands are another impressive element of the watch. Made by hand, they are composed of multiple elements – in particular the hours hand, with its steel central canon and polished and matte titanium elements.
Positioned at 6 o’clock in full glory is the tourbillon… but it is De Bethune, so the tourbillon is not your classic regulator. First of all, it is a fast beater, as we’re talking about a 30-second rotation and a 36,000 vibrations/hour (or 5Hz) frequency. Then, it is ultra-light, and despite its 63 components, it only weighs 0.18 grams – being the lightest tourbillon cage ever made. The lightest of the components is only 0,0001 gram. The back of the movement is far more discreet than the front, however, the decoration remains top-notch.
The De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels Saphir Tourbillon is yet another impressive and superbly executed creation of the independent watchmaker. It will be limited to 10 pieces and the price remains to be confirmed. More details at www.debethune.ch.