Rare Watches: De Bethune DB27 Fort Aero

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Any De Bethune watch is pretty rare. Especially when this is a company whose production is ultra small (no official figures, but we understand it is in the low 3 digits), and 10% dedicated to piece uniques. This feature watch is not unique, but a limited edition of 5 pieces. Made in collaboration with Fort Aero, an Estonia based private jet company.

De Bethune DB27 Fort Aero

The Fort Aero is a customized DB27, a watch which was introduced during Baselworld 2013. The new Fort Aero is now in a titanium case, with the familiar De Bethune delta style design on the dial.

From the dial side, the look is entirely like the current DB27 Titan Hawk with the exception of the blue dial. The DB28 Fort Aero is presented with the same bright polished titanium case with the signature pierced. A De Bethune Shield in a polished and chamfered appliqué sits on the middle of the dial. The dial is finished in what De Bethune calls microlight.

To create the blued titanium dial, its own shade of this azure hue, De Bethune uses a technique that consists of gently heating the material with a flame so as to colour its surface through oxidation. The process begins with polishing the raw material to achieve a perfect mirror polish, before the watchmaker cuts out the parts, cleans them and then fires them in an oven at 700 °C to oxidise the titanium and give it this truly extraordinary uniform shade of blue.

Microlight, is an updated interpretation of the traditional guilloché technique. Microlight engraving is a technique applied to the flat dial which effectively accentuates and reinforces the structure. By playing with light and shade effects, it adds a sense of depth and creates a more dynamic, architectural result.

The dial carries a chapter ring, which is raised bombé style for the hour markers which are printed in bold Roman Numerals. The minutes are marked with a railroad track on the periphery. This track is punctuated with Arabic Numerals at 5 minute intervals.

The back is rather interesting, as the rotor is constructed to resemble the shape of a jet engine turbine. The rotor looks like it was made by soldering pieces which look like individual turbine blades to form a complete disc. Each blade is finished with a raised lip, and textured to look like a that on a turbine, and held centrally.

The movement is the self-winding AUTOV2 used in the regular DB27. This is designed and manufactured in-house and carries 217 parts with a titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts. Though on the DB27 Fort Aero, the beauty of the movement and the usual high level of finishing cannot be appreciated, as the full disc shaped rotor covers the back.


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