De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen Reviewed by Tim Mosso

by Tim Mosso

In a sense, it’s a sign of maturity that the once nascent independent watchmaking movement has discovered nostalgia. While ancient companies like Longines and Vacheron Constantin pioneered the concept of re-issuing vintage designs as far back as the 1980s, few of today’s independent watch labels even existed at the time. De Bethune, established in 2002, is the latest to capitalize on mounting interest in modern-era classics with the DBD Re-Edition Evergreen.

De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

Auction results and the aftermarket have awakened independent creators to collector interest in watches already considered “vintage” after three, two, or fewer decades in circulation.

In 2021, F.P. Journe launched the 99-piece 20th anniversary Octa Automatique in homage to his first automatic watch; Journe’s 2004 Vagabondage I resurfaced in 2022 as a 68-unit revival.

In just the last year, Louis Vuitton’s high watchmaking arm, La Fabrique du Temps, has relaunched the Daniel Roth brand with a 20-piece “Tourbillon Souscription” in homage to independent pioneer Roth’s signature model.

De Bethune DB Eight on the wrist

De Bethune, which is majority owned by my company Watchbox, has been hip to the trend. 2023 witnessed the arrival of the DB Eight, a revival of 2003’s DB8 chronograph, and the DBD, a 2006 obscurity that had been my personal grail but seemingly on nobody else’s radar.

The original DBD was a tombstone-like slab employing the silhouette of 2005’s DBS but opting for a solid dial, digital inline calendar, jump hour, and caseback moonphase.

Thirty-nine examples were built in rose and white gold before this unintentional memento mori found an untimely commercial grave.

De Bethune DBD in collaboration with Swizz Beatz

And the model would have remained interred were it not for the 2023 return of not one but two examples of a revived DBD. The first was De Bethune’s second collaboration with American recording artist, Kasseem Dean, better known by his professional moniker, Swizz Beatz. Its blackened zirconium case is paired with a burgundy dial to preserve the model’s track record of pointed visuals. A 13-piece edition ensured that the new DBD “Season 2” upheld the original watch’s reputation for scarcity.

De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

Fast forward to Dubai Watch Week 2023, and the DBD Evergreen arrived as De Bethune’s final flourish of the model year. Unarguably more mainstream than the black-and-pink Season 2, the Evergreen channels the dial color of our moment in tandem with a rugged and wieldy grade 5 titanium case. While theoretically more mainstream, the 20-piece Evergreen edition did little to dilute the population of DBDs past and present.



Each DBD since 2006 shares a certain number of standard qualities with its brethren. The eccentric shape is De Bethune master watchmaker Denis Flageollet’s tribute to everything from pocket watches to clocks to early 20th-century jump hour wristwatches.

Breguet 1620 and Audemars 37696v pocket watches with digital displays

Every DBD includes a dial comprised mostly of empty space but punctuated by scrolling minutes, a jumping hour, and a digital inline calendar. The Cartier Tank à Guichet is a notable inspiration; Breguet wandering hour wristwatches 2068 of 1929 and 2072 of 1926 had an influence. 

Pallweber pocket watch with digital display and enamel dial for IWC circa 1885

Pallweber pocket watch with digital display and enamel dial for IWC circa 1885

IWC’s 19th-century digital time pocket watches also had an impact.

However, the true spirit animals of the De Bethune DBD appear to be the 1928 Breguet pocket watch No. 1620 with digital hour and linear calendar and the same year’s Audemars Piguet No. 37,696. Others like them existed in the period. Flageollet may also have drawn inspiration from 20th-century Patek Philippe inline calendar pocket watches like the perpetual calendar reference 725 and the 843, which added a minute repeater.

As with the original DBD, the Evergreen and the Season 2 include a simple calendar rather than a perpetual. Its discs pivot on jewels pressed directly into the dial blank and can be observed on either side of the calendar aperture; another sits between the scrolling minutes and the jumping hour. The use of a screw-fixed nameplate for the brand is an oddity for De Bethune but endemic to all DBDs.

Original Debethune DBD

While several historic and 2023 DBD dial colors have graced this peculiar case, each has employed côtes de Genève instead of the company’s signature “côtes De Bethune.” The difference is that the shaded flank of each dial-side stripe is justified to the same side of the stripe all the way across the dial.

Wide stripes visible on the back of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

In contrast, côtes De Bethune involve mirrored shading in which the dark crest swaps sides at the mid-point of the caseback so that each striped flank appears to be a reflection of its opposite number. This effect can be observed in wide shots of the DBD’s deltoid barrel bridge.



Case design of the historic and new DBD series is consistent in shape but distinct in detail. The brass tacks include a hinged upper lug to which the strap is fixed by screws. DBD’s lower lug profile is more conventional and features the “ogival” or bullet tips that have distinguished most De Bethune models since the original 2002 DB1 chronograph.

Hindged upper lug and crown of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

A screw-down bullhead crown is fitted less to ensure water resistance than to prevent damage from contact with the mobile lug.

Dimple-style adjusters on both flanks permit recalibration of the calendar on the five annual occasions when its indication errs by irregular length months.

The De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen is slim

De Bethune’s newest DBD case eschews the precious metal delicacy of the original in favor of zirconium and titanium for 2023. Moreover, the case measures a svelte 11.7mm thick compared to the 2006 model’s 14.8mm.

While the first DBD included a solid caseback with a spherical moonphase display, the new watch is more of a crowd pleaser thanks to its expansive sapphire display window. Caliber DB2044 deserves no less.

The initial variant of the De Bethune twin-barrel movement arrived in 2004 on the DB15 perpetual calendar, and its evolved ancestors have powered every version of the DBD. While the 2006 watch was optimistically described as a six-day movement, reality was more like four.

Movement of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

The 2023 watch, in comparison, features a genuine five-day autonomy. Due to features like a silicon escape wheel, there is no need to rely on a lower beat rate to achieve the 120-hour run time; this movement operates at a modern-era 4Hz.

Balance shock protection of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

Among other innovations, Flageollet’s patented twin self-adjusting barrels – one spring will slip – are designed to eliminate accidental over-winding. DB’s “triple pare-chute” balance bridge offers twin flanking steel springs that supplement the Incabloc spring over the balance staff. Not only does this patented arrangement better guard against damage, but it also accelerates the recentering of the balance staff pivots in their jewels to more rapidly restore precise timekeeping.

Flageollet is an inveterate tinkerer, and the titanium-white gold balance wheel is one of ten individual designs he has patented. In each case, the goal has been to create a balance that reduces the impact of temperature on timing, maximizes the percentage of total mass in the rim, and reduces the parasitic effects of aerodynamic drag as much as possible.

Balance of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

Above the balance wheel sits De Bethune’s patented hairspring design. While De Bethune doesn’t fabricate the spring alloy itself, its technicians do shape each of the two spirals by hand and connect them with a micro-clamp. The result is as slim as a flat hairspring while matching the 360-degree mass balance and concentric breathing of an overcoil.



From a decorative standpoint, the DBD reflects several of its maker’s standard tropes. The barrel bridge, while often noted for its resemblance to Star Treks’ Starfleet Command logo, officially reflects Flageollet’s admiration for a particular fallen leaf he encountered on a hike in the hills surrounding his Swiss home.

Distinctive polished barrel bridge of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

Another officially proffered premise is the bridge’s “upward” orientation as a symbol of advancing technology and standards at the brand. Objectively, the visible bridge is a decorative striped cap on the lower barrel bridge. In the same vein, the black-polished steel base surrounding the barrel bridge is a cap on the functional base plate.

At center, a poli noir bridge acts as the upper anchor for the fired blue steel pare-chute springs. The two-tone white-and-blue is a striking treatment that glorifies this functional innovation, and it serves a secondary purpose of cloaking the central seam where the two mirrored halves of the barrel bridge cap meet. Not only is the pare-chute bridge exquisitely reflective, but its narrow flanks sport an impressively rounded hand-bevel.

The chamfering on the bridges is equally bright, rounded, and artisanal; this is no perfunctory milling-wheel anglage. Each of the jewel sinks gleams with additional reaming and polish.

Impeccably mirror polished balance bridge of the De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen

The undoubted aesthetic highlight is the fully rounded and specular finished balance bridge. While most of the DB2044 is finished to an outstanding degree, the bridge is one component where De Bethune flashes its ability to match the likes of Greubel Forsey, Romain Gauthier, and Voutilainen.

There are four “knuckles” where the bridge’s arms join the jewel cup and the flanking jewel settings; get close and marvel at how evenly drawn and sharp these steel seams are! Confined areas like these tend to expose compromises in skills or standards at even the best brands.

De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen on the wrist

With a total of 39 historic examples in circulation and 33 modern-day units scheduled for delivery through at least 2025, the DBD will remain a rarity even by De Bethune standards. It’s not a hype watch, but it’s also not democratically priced at $120,000. It remains my grail watch in the literal sense: coveted and unobtainable. For wealthy collectors who prize quality and eschew social media validation, the green DBD is a red-hot ticket.

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Quick Facts: De Bethune DBD Re-Edition Evergreen
Reference Code: DBDRE

Case: 42.7mm in titanium grade five, 11.7mm thick, 45mm lug-to-lug; 30-meters WR, screw down crown, dimple-style pusher adjusters for calendar.
Clasp: Titanium pin buckle
Dial: Côtes de Genève; evergreen, linear calendar, minutes, hours
Movement: Caliber DB2044, manual wind with 120-hour power reserve, twin barrels, 4Hz escapement, jumping hour, linear triple calendar, patented shock protection, patented overwind protection, patented hairspring design, patented titanium/white gold balance, 30mm diameter, 29 jewels; silicon escape wheel
Functions: Jump hour, digital inline triple calendar, scrolling minutes
Limitation: 20 pieces
2024 Retail Price: $120,000

* Tim Mosso is the media director and watch specialist at Watchbox. You can check out his very comprehensive YouTube channel at

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