Two of the three new models presented by De Bethune in Geneva were in the DB28 collection with its distinctive floating lugs – a patent of De Bethune. The DB28 Maxichrono in titanium builds on the success of this single-axis chronograph model (the tourbillon version of which scooped the Chronograph prize at last year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix) with a new version with a polished titanium case.
“The invention at the heart of this patented chronograph mechanism dates back to the DB21 experimental model, which was first presented in 2006,” explains Denis Flageollet, co-founder of De Bethune. “Only two were ever made and they were never sold. The movement used in this piece had an excentric vertical clutch, whereas the DB28 Maxichrono has our patented total clutch system.”
This system uses three separate clutches to power the hours, minutes and seconds counters of the chronograph, making the most of the advantages of the horizontal and vertical clutches while eliminating their faults. The main benefit is a marked reduction in friction which, in the case of the shifting pinion clutch for the minutes counter, reduces friction “by a factor of 60 compared with a standard chronograph movement such as the Valjoux 7750,” as Denis Flageollet explains.
Although it is not a limited edition per se, a maximum of 20 new DB28 Maxichrono models in titanium will be produced this year.
The DB28 GS is about as sporty as things get at De Bethune. While comfort on the wrist is ensured by the lightweight case, the patented floating lugs and the unobtrusive crown at 12 o’clock, a new thicker crystal and screw-in crown improve water resistance to 10 bar and a brushed finish gives the case a sportier look. It is also the first De Bethune timepiece to feature a rubber strap.
“We have had a lot of requests for a rubber strap on the DB28,” says Mr. Flageollet, “but rather than simply developing a new strap, we decided to develop a new watch to go with it, especially for our customers who live in countries with high temperatures and high humidity.”
The DB2115 hand-wound calibre used in this model offers six days of power reserve, features the familiar De Bethune patents (self-regulating twin barrel, silicon/white-gold balance, tripe pare-chute shock-absorbing system and silicon escape wheel) and represents over 13 years of research and development by the company. But it is the rubber strap, with its “microlight” finish, that posed the biggest challenge in the development of this new model. Denis Flageollet admits that De Bethune is “not quite there yet” in terms of the final version. “We are already on our fifth series of tests,” he says, “ and the moulds alone cost a fortune.”
The DB25T Zodiac is arguably the highlight of the three new models and is a perfect example of what Denis Flageollet refers to as “putting the beautiful art of clock and watchmaking from past centuries on to the wrist.” Hence the use of the signs of the Zodiac on the dial as hour markers, which harks back to the traditions of the Enlightenment, when tower clocks were ornately decorated and the well-to-do wanted similarly decorated items in their homes.
For the same reason, the 20-piece limited edition also has a dead-beat central seconds that recalls the tick-tock of these antique clocks. What is not apparent from the dial side, however, is that this function is powered by a 30-second silicon/titanium tourbillon escapement that is visible only through the transparent case back.