De Bethune DB28 Kind Of Blue Tourbillon: The Blues Have Never Been So Joyful
Blue is fundamental to De Bethune.
This was never officially stated, but when a watch enthusiast thinks of De Bethune, blue is usually the color that springs to mind.
Blue has always been part of De Bethune’s corporate and design language. But it jumped into the foreground once the boutique brand founded by David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet introduced its first DB28 Kind of Blue watch. Other such jewels in this flamboyant color include the DB28 Kind of Blue Tourbillon Meteorite, the utterly delightful Dream Watch 5 Meteorite, and the DB28 Steel Wheels Blue.
As one of the most progressive brands in haute horlogerie, it comes as no surprise that De Bethune’s watches can be equally as technical and eyebrow-raising on the outside as they are on the inside. Nonetheless, I am still surprised every single time I catch a glimpse of one of these blue beauties: the depth, shimmer, and shine of this particular color does nothing short of mesmerize me.
And I know I’m not alone.
De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue Tourbillon
It goes without saying by now, but I’m going to repeat it anyway: it is the blued grade 5 polished titanium case and other components that make up the most striking element of this watch. The blue is just so blue that it attracts the eye directly and never lets it go.
The next thing the eye settles on are the movement parts visible from the front, though it is arguable whether the biggest attraction is the large blued-titanium bridge – that proprietary triangular bridge looking much like a Star Trek symbol giving the movement an instantly recognizable face all its own – or De Bethune’s incredible 30-second tourbillon at the 6 o’clock position.
That bridge is the most striking and obvious element in the DB28 line, of that there is no doubt. Co-founder and technical head Denis Flageollet calls the bridge shape practical, for it seems obvious to him that this solution must be better than four separate bridges. “It’s function and form together!” he once exclaimed to me.
“The shapes of the parts are natural for what it is they need to do,” he continued. “De Bethune employs a new concept of being classic but modern – a new classic.” He has often stressed to me that he is able to work with such unorthodox shapes only because they are produced in-house, without having to go through the usual Swiss supplier odyssey.
The 30-second tourbillon beating at an ultra-fast five-Hertz frequency, on the other hand, features a revolutionary patented annular balance in silicon and titanium. Encircled by a white gold ring, it is also ultra-light: the tourbillon carriage comprising 63 components weighs only 0.18 grams (the lightest currently being made).
It is joined in the regulator by a patented De Bethune balance spring with flat terminal curve (to keep its center of gravity right in the center) and a silicon escape wheel.
All of these science-fiction-like mechanics, the watch’s volume, and the various levels contribute to making the watch to look more like a sculpture. It’s a piece of art that I would never put down or just look at, I would want to touch and wear this sculptural timepiece all the time.
De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue Tourbillon on the wrist
Despite all of the azure distraction, it is still very easy to see the time on this watch as the 11 pink gold hour markers placed on the blued grade 5 satin-polished titanium minute ring as well as the hand-polished pink gold hands make for a beautifully considered contrast.
It took absolutely zero time to get used to the DB28 Kind of Blue: everything sat and worked beautifully right from the moment I put this otherworldly timepiece on. There was no odd time display and no weird sizing – and that latter point is yet another extreme advantage of the DB28 line.
Though a 42 mm watch would normally be quite out of my comfortable size range, De Bethune’s signature floating lugs ensured it fit my small wrist perfectly. The lugs are spring-loaded so that when the strap is secured they pull down and around to hug the wrist, fixing the watch in place so it doesn’t slide around or wiggle and waggle.
Additionally, the titanium case and movement parts make this watch ultra-light. And, also, the thin bezel makes the watch wear small but look bigger than it really is.
If this were my watch, I’d definitely make it a daily wearer due to the way its weight just disappears on the wrist and remains unobtrusive. Until you look down and spy that dynamic blue looking back up at you, that is. Then it is the center of attention.
Tim Mosso has called this watch “gossamer grace,” and I fully agree with his poetic description.
The back is almost as pretty as the front with its multitude of blued components also been decorated with perlage and contrasting pink gold elements. The back is also where we find the power reserve indication (impossible to miss with its “power” marking at 3 o’clock).
While most watches on the market these days have some sort of similar counterpart from another brand, it is exactly this point that remains one of De Bethune’s USPs: there is no other watch on the planet that looks like a De Bethune. Not one. And I’m sure that that will always remain so.
And here’s another piece of food for thought: each and every blue component on this watch (quite possibly close to 100 single pieces) needs to be treated individually as they are heat tempered by hand and eye. Now imagine trying to get each one of those parts the exact same shade of blue.
That’s quite an undertaking.
And many of those same parts are first mirror-polished before they are blued. Mirror polishing is a process that involves polishing with diamond paste and a boxwood peg. For hours and hours. And there cannot be one single mistake, blemish, or scratch on a mirror-polished component or the effect is gone.
In conclusion, this is as close to a perfect watch as it gets in terms of design and mechanics. But you really, really have to like blue to agree with that.
Luckily I do. Bring on the blues!
For more information, please visit www.debethune.ch/en/collections/db28-collection/db28-kind-blue-tourbillon.
Quick Facts De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue Tourbillon
Case: 42.6 x 9.2 mm, flame-blued titanium, floating lugs with crown between upper lugs
Movement: manually wound Caliber DB2019 with 30-second tourbillon in silicon and titanium, self-regulating twin spring barrels, silicon escape wheel, 5 Hz/36,000 vph frequency, five-day power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, 30-second display on tourbillon cage; power reserve indication on back
Limitation: limited annual production of 5 pieces
Price: 200,000 Swiss francs
* This article was first published on August 9, 2019 at De Bethune DB28 Kind Of Blue Tourbillon: The Blues Have Never Been So Joyful.