De Bethune Navigates Uncharted Territory with the Stunning DB28xs Starry Seas
by Martin Green
Some brands have an abundance of creativity, but are also blessed with a steady hand, allowing them to let loose all that creativity in a recognizable way. Such a brand is De Bethune, because although their collection was and is a combination of bold characters, their family resemblance is undeniable.
Such a combination of qualities is what gives any brand, but in particular an independent like De Bethune, staying power. With the new DB28xs Starry Seas, they venture in a new direction, but as charismatic and different as this watch is, it still represents where it is coming from.
Stars in the water
De Bethune has a thing for stars, but the way that they present them in the DB28xs Starry Seas is something that we haven’t seen before. As the name already hints, are the stars reflected in an ocean full of waves. To create this effect, De Bethune invented a random guilloché pattern, a world’s first, representing the waves.
The dial is made from titanium and the result is beyond beautiful because the play of light gives a broad array of different tones of blue, and the randomness stunningly represents the sea. As it is a random pattern, each watch will also feature a slightly different dial.
This can further be personalized by the placement of the stars, which are drops of solid white gold.
De Bethune created the DB28xs Starry Seas around the concept of Wabi-Sabi. What sounds like a character from Star Wars is, in fact, a Japanese life philosophy close to the Greek idea of beauty and perfection. Wabi-Sabi is almost a memento mori, as it focuses on the fact that nothing is forever, nothing is ever finished, and perfection doesn’t exist.
I understand where De Bethune is going with this, but by following this philosophy, they have come very close to perfection in my book. As they see it, the random guilloché pattern, along with the stars, offers a sense of imperfection, as the dial ends and doesn’t continue forever.
Naturally, as this De Bethune is quite different from many other watches, it reflects the beauty of atypical things, which is also part of the Wabi-Sabi. The last part is the almost sober elegance of this time-only timepiece, which should not be confused with minimalism as this is a different concept. It is small(er), and thin, and because of that, it shows beauty through modesty.
With a diameter of 38.7 mm is this De Bethune significantly smaller than its siblings. While the term ‘less is more’ doesn’t really go with De Bethune, as there is so much to love and see, this new size is a welcome addition. As it is smaller, all the elements that make it a true De Bethune are also more concentrated, which makes for a very potent watch.
An additional advantage, aside from being easier to wear for people with smaller wrists, is that there is more visual interaction between the strap and the watch when worn.
While this may push De Bethune ever so slightly into the realm of the ‘ordinary’ watch, it allows you to appreciate De Bethune in a way we have not yet seen much of. To me, the DB28xs Starry Seas is a progressive take on the classic dress watch.
Have other De Bethunes not done so as well? No, because a classic dress watch is slim and small(er) in my book, and while De Bethune never had much trouble with the first, the latter has never been so on point as now.
Because De Bethune stays loyal to its admiration for titanium, the DB28xs Starry Seas is small, slim, and light, which translates into great wearing comfort. I am also very pleased that they didn’t overcomplicate things with folding clasp, but opted for a nice titanium pin buckle. Sometimes the most simple sollution is the best, and that’s true in this case.
One thing you never have to worry with a De Bethune is the movement, and the DB28xs Starry Seas is no exception. It is powered by caliber DB2005, which measures 30 mm in diameter. Combined with the 38.7 mm large case, it means that it is well filled, making also the back look very balanced. Running at 4Hz/28,800 VpH, the DB28xs Starry Seas has an impressive power reserve of six days, thanks to two mainspring barrels.
Other modern features included a silicon escape wheel, a balance spring with a flat terminal curve, and a titanium balance with white gold inserts in 2016, offering optimum performance for temperature differences and air movement. The balance is held into place by a full bridge, ensuring excellent shock resistance.
While the finishing of the movement is of a very high level, it is its architecture that is most enticing. Here De Bethune walks once again to its own beat, taking an approach as no other brand does. This further enhances the pleasures of ownership, as especially the more spoiled collectors are looking for unique delicacies in the lavish banquet that is the watch world.
While De Bethune has always served their fans well, the new DB28xs Starry Seas is particularly entrancing as it both enhances but also expands the brand’s universe.
For more information, please visit www.debethune.ch/en/collections/db28-collections/xs-starry-seas
Quick Facts De Bethune DB28xs Starry Seas
Case: grade five titanium, 38.7 x 7.4 mm; floating lugs
Movement: manually wound, twin spring barrels, silicon balance wheel with palladium rim, six-day power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency,
Functions: hours, minutes;
Price: CHF 77,000 excluding VAT (current DB28XP: CHF 72,000)