The Origin Story
In 2002, David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet joined forces to establish De Bethune, united by their shared vision of what contemporary watchmaking could look like. Zanetta was an enthusiastic collector, with a passion for art and history, whilst Flageollet was an accomplished fourth-generation watchmaker. Like many independants before him, Flageollet had spent time restoring antique and vintage timepieces, including at the prestigious Watch Museum in Le Locle, as well as developing prototype movement for other manufactures.
De Bethune was named after the Chevalier de Bethune, a French nobleman credited with inventing an escapement mechanism for pocket watches and clocks in 1727. Making a limited number of watches a year, the brand has combined time-honoured skills with cutting-edge technology, to carefully craft each piece entirely within the watchmaker’s atelier in the Swiss town of Sainte-Croix. Flageollet in charge of the technical and mechanical side of things, whilst Zanetta brings his input to the design and aesthetics.
A Unique DB28 Steel Wheels
The DB28 is a fitting demonstration of De Bethune’s desire to push the boundaries of 21st century horology. This unique piece Steel Wheels variant was completed at the request of a private collector in October 2020, with the aim of creating a monochromatic, grey version of the original. Building on the design of the first Steel Wheels, which was already limited to 25 pieces, its unique details include a grey spherical moon and grey chapter ring.
It is impossible to describe the DB28 Steel Wheels without first looking at the movement, which forms a core part of the design and aesthetics. The manually-wound DB 2115V4 displays finishing of the highest quality, with the components showing a remarkable level of hand-finishing - from De Bethune's sharp interpretation of Côtes de Genève found on the triangle-shaped bridge to the concentric graining and sharp, polished-bevels found at the back. Unlike other DB28 models, the triangular bridge and parts of the dial are skeletonised on the Steel Wheels, revealing the gears underneath. The barrels and ratchet wheels are also open-worked, further exposing the inner mechanics. Through the two self-regulating barrels, the DB28 Steel Wheels achieves six days of power reserve.
By way of protection, the DB 2115V4 calibre also boasts a triple-parachute shock-absorbing system, which is unique to De Bethune calibres. The bridge of the triple parachute is secured by a spring-based system, protecting the heart of the movement. The various architectural elements are connected by three jewels, thereby absorbing shocks and ensuring precise re-positioning of the bridge after displacement. Bringing a touch of colour to the monochromatic design, the balance wheel is a blued titanium web, set with individual white gold masses. This design helps to achieve as much thermal stability as possible, with minimum aerodynamic drag.
The grey chapter ring features spherical hour indices, made out of polished titanium, which provide an intuitive reference to read the time. Above this, the skeletonised hands build on the futuristic styling of the DB28, creating depth and preserving legibility. A spherical moon is subtly placed at six o’clock - two halves of metal comprise the sphere, both of them in contrasting shades of grey. With a design which speaks for itself, the De Bethune name is nowhere to be found on the dial.
Sized at a contemporary 42.6 mm in diameter, the distinctive drum-shaped case of the DB28 is made from titanium. The manufactures’ smaller sized articulated, hollowed lugs are spring-loaded, neatly forming around the wrist when it is worn. The entire watch is given this same high-polish finish, while the screw-down crown is located at the 12 o’clock position.
This unique De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels is accompanied by a letter from the CEO of De Bethune confirming that it is a unique piece, completed October 2020. It also comes with its leather box, manual, Certificate of Origin and Warranty and two additional grey De Bethune straps. The watch is fitted to a grey fabric strap, with a matching titanium buckle.