De Bethune is just about 14 years old, which in watchmaking terms amongst old names makes it no more than a young upstart. That said, this young upstart has already made a name for itself by producing some of the most striking and technically interesting watches of modern times, perhaps due to being unencumbered by the weight of tradition. And one of the most captivating watches that De Bethune has produced is the extremely rare DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” watch that we had the chance to get up close with recently.
Amongst De Bethune’s collection, the DB28 collection is possibly the most iconic and recognizable. The unique case design along with the distinctive and unorthodox dials combine to make watches from the DB28 collection unlike any other. Granted, this is probably why one of the watches from this line ended up on our top watches inspired by Star Trek. It’s not often that a brand can pull off sci-fi cool and high end luxury at the same time, but somehow De Bethune Watches pulls it off.
Notable is the use of titanium, particularly when it is heated and treated titanium. We have seen such applications in other watches such as the DB28 Sky Bridge and its fabulous heated and polished titanium dial. This DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” watch takes the blue to the next level (obviously) and it manages to have such a depth to the color without looking boring or monotone.
Essentially, the De Bethune DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” watch, which was announced earlier this year, can be thought of as a piece that showcases all of the brand’s expertise in manipulating and using titanium. It is, of course, based on the regular DB28T Tourbillon watch, if we can call any De Bethune watch “regular.” Another thing to note is that the bluing and polishing of titanium is all done by hand, so I hope you can appreciate the amount of handwork that has gone into this special watch here.
Case dimension for the new DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” has been unchanged and remains at 42.6mm wide and 9.2mm thick. On paper, it sounds like a modestly-sized watch, but its unique floating lugs means it wears larger than it sounds. But more on this later, the stunning thing about this case is that it is made using blued and mirror polished grade 5 titanium. It is not only ridiculously light on the wrist, but the blued heat treatment also means that it looks really special. It is a blue hue that is iridescent and unlike any other that I have seen on a watch. At some angles it takes on a rich dark hue of blue; and at others, it takes on a lighter shade and becomes blindingly bright. The use of blued, mirror polish titanium is the star of this watch and makes the watch really striking and imparts it a whole lot of wrist presence.
Wearing comfort is good, because as I mentioned, it is really light, but also because of the floating lugs. The lugs are a De Bethune hallmark and are actually spring-loaded so that they move to conform to the contours of your wrist. Coupled with the comfy alligator strap, the DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” feels almost like a second skin.
But just as important as the case is the dial, which also has numerous components featuring blued and mirror-polished titanium. The hours ring is blued titanium and features hour indexes made out of pink gold. Inside, there’s a smaller minutes ring that is also crafted out of blued titanium and satin-finished. Dominating the dial is the visible bridge cover, which is also blued and mirror-polished grade 5 titanium, and if you look closer, you will see encrusted stars made out of white gold. To add a bit of contrast and to improve legibility, the skeletonized hands are made out of pink gold. And at 6 o’clock, you will find the high-frequency tourbillon that made so many watch lovers and collectors fall in love with the original DB28T.
The DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” watch has a screwed in sapphire case back in polished pink gold, revealing the caliber DB2019 within that powers the watch. The caliber DB2019 is made up of 298 components and features a mix of stainless steel and grade 5 titanium components that are all painstaking blued by hand. Power reserve is 5 days long, and there’s a power reserve indicator with pink gold hands that indicate to owners how much reserve is left in the twin mainspring barrels.
Caliber DB2019 is also notable for its high-frequency fast-spinning tourbillon. The movement beats at 5Hz and the tourbillon makes a full rotation every 30 seconds. Considering most tourbillons beat at just 3Hz, this makes the tourbillon in the DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” a sight to behold. De Bethune also says this tourbillon is the lightest in the world, weighing just 0.20 grams, thanks to the use of titanium and silicon.
As I mentioned earlier, the DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” can be best thought of as a showpiece of De Bethune’s expertise in titanium. The end result is nothing short of stunning as the DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” is a visually-arresting watch. This is also the kind of watchmaking that I like to see from the smaller independent watchmakers – watches that are different, thoughtful, technically exciting, and aesthetically stimulating. If you love the color blue, I cannot think of a more suitable watch to recommend.
De Bethune is a Swiss watch manufacturer. Both sought to combine time-honoured abilities and the latest scientific breakthroughs, devoted to the service of chronometric precision. De Bethune sees itself as a development and research instrument, a laboratory making use of cutting-edge technology implemented in the soul of this 18th century masterwatchmakers.High-end independent Swiss watch maker De Bethune now announced the sale of a vast majority stake in the company to an investment consortium. This, nevertheless, does not appear to be another case of an independent brand gobbled up by some corporate conglomerate, but instead a musical chairs of ownership and management since the investors are led by none other than former De Bethune CEO Pierre Jacques along with private equity investor Giovanni Perin. While the news is noteworthy and a fun explanation to speculate on the brand’s potential, the brief announcement makes it yet unclear how De Bethune’s company, products, and marketing might be affected. For the time being, we could assume that a shot of new capital and energy might be beneficial for the brand.Mr. Jacques led the company for five years from 2011 to 2015, and is currently back in charge as CEO once again and Chairman of the Board — see our interview with him Grail Watch series here. Fellow co-founder David Zanetta had already stepped back from being operationally involved with the firm after his 70th birthday 2016 and will no more be directly associated having ceded all of his stocks. Therefore, while the passing of a co-founder may lead to concern for brand fans about a change of direction, De Bethune is left in a familiar place with familiar direction that oversaw some, frankly, excellent products.
The only problem is that production of the De Bethune DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” will be extremely limited, due in part to the amount of effort needed to finish and craft all the blued titanium and stainless components. Just five pieces will be made this year. The De Bethune DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” is priced at $250,000. debethune.ch