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Review of De Bethune DBS Tourbillon with hands-on and live pics

by Peter Chong on April 24, 2015

Its been ten years. The De Bethune team of David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet decided to do a special piece in support of the Only Watch project by creating the first DBS. Time flies, and at the Baselworld 2015, they announced the De Bethune DBS Tourbillon. A 10 piece anniversary limited edition watch to commemorate. 

 

A diversion: a little history, perhaps.

 

Tempus fugit. The duo of Zanetta and Flageollet have been creating timepieces to their own vision since 2002 when they decided to come together to form De Bethune. As early as Basel 2003, no other than Jean Claude Biver had told me to go take a look at this dynamic new brand. In Baselworld 2003, Dr. Henry Tay of The Hour Glass practically dragged me to their little booth at the bowels of the Plaza Hotel (now Swissotel Basel) to meet with David and Denis, and to witness the birth of this incredible new brand. Motivated by the urgency to create, the incredible curiosity to explore new methods, new materials, and powered by a hunger which is not driven purely by profit, De Bethune has pursued this goal, and certainly one of the few truly independent watchmakers around. Not content with purchasing movements, dials and hands, they set out to make everything themselves. And the result is stunning. We have carried reviews and photo essays of many De Bethune watches, and have always been impressed. See here, here and here for some of our earlier articles.

 

Review of the De Bethune DBS Tourbillon

 

And this brings us to their latest collection. For the Deployant team, this new tourbillon is a standout from the crowd. Not only in its visual design, but also in the innovative use of materials and technology in what is essentially a very old invention: the tourbillon.

 

The De Bethune DBS Tourbillon. The visual design is rather arresting, a powerful statement to the attention to detail that the De Bethune team typically takes.

The De Bethune DBS Tourbillon. The visual design is rather arresting, a powerful statement to the attention to detail that the De Bethune team typically takes.

 

Let’s start with the case design. The white gold case, with cone shaped lower lugs, and a 12 o’clock crown position measures some 45mm across the widest section. But in no way does it feel large, in fact perhaps due to the way the straps are attached via a pivoting gold plate connecting the upper seection of the strap to the case middle, the watch sits rather comfortably on most but the smallest of wrists.

 

Detail of the De Bethune DBS Tourbillon. The finishing on the exposed movement which is fully visible as the vestigial dial retracts to only a ring around the face.

Detail of the De Bethune DBS Tourbillon. The finishing on the exposed movement which is fully visible as the vestigial dial retracts to only a ring around the face.

 

The dial, or rather lack of it, as the dial proper is a vestigial ring around the face of the watch only there to mark the minutes, leaving the entire movement is exposed. This makes it critical for the finishing to be done prefectly. The subtle details of the caliber DB2019 is amazing. The hours are marked by a series of 12 spherical steel indicators which are hand polished and blued using the traditional flame blueing technique. These balls sit on a titanium annular bridge.

The tourbillon, sitting at 6 o’clock makes one revolution every 30 seconds, in contrast to the more normal tourbillons spinning at a rate of 1 revolution a minute. By no means this is the only 30 second tourbillon in the market. For example, Parmigiani tourbillons are all famously operating at the same speed. But it is certainly one of the most interesting, as not only does the carriage go round once every 30 seconds, the balance beats at 36,000 bph, rather fast for a tourbillon. The entire tourbillon is amazingly light, only 0.18g in total weight for all 63 components. The lightweight nature of the tourbillon is important, more so for one which runs at higher speeds than normal ones due to inertia.

Finishing is exemplary. Indeed very well done. The entire watch sparkles like a jewel in the light, and the contrast provided between the blued steel hands, balls and screws and the brilliant polished titanium bridges, and the warmth of the white gold case is just remarkable. Chapeau David and Denis!

 

The caseback shows the power reserve indicator. Up to 5 days of power is available on each full wind.

The caseback shows the power reserve indicator. Up to 5 days of power is available on each full wind. And marked with the engraving 10eme Anniversaire.

 

Comfortable on the wrist.

 

On the wrist, the watch feels smaller than its 45mm case diameter would suggest, thanks to the articulating top lug.

On the wrist, the watch feels smaller than its 45mm case diameter would suggest, thanks to the articulating top lug.

The watch will retail for $319,600 Singapore Dollars including 7% GST

 

De Bethune DBS Tourbillon Full specifications

 

Functions
Hours – minutes – power reserve indication on the back – Ultra-light De Bethune
30’’silicon/titanium Tourbillon 36,000 vph
Movement
DB2019 calibre – mechanical hand-wound movement
Power reserve: 5 days
Case
White gold, distinctively shaped – 45 per 42.5 mm – thickness 11 mm
Attachments: integrated cone-shaped lugs in white gold
Crystal: sapphire crystal, 1800 Vickers hardness with double anti-reflective treatment
Crown screw-down at 12 o’clock – setting in two positions
Back: solid, in white gold – linear power-reserve indicator
Display
Dial: anthracite – titanium bridges with ruthenium finishing – spherical hour indicators in handpolished
flame-blued steel – silver-toned minutes ring – Côtes De Bethune – De Bethune 30”
silicon/titanium tourbillon, 36,000 vph
Hands: hand-polished and flame-blued steel
Strap
Extra-supple alligator leather with pin buckle

DB2019 calibre
Movement: mechanical hand-wound
Functions: hours – minutes – De Bethune 30” silicon/titanium tourbillon, 36,000 vph – 5 days powerreserve
indication on the back
Diameter 30 mm – 298 parts – hand-crafted finishing and decoration – Côtes De Bethune
Titanium bridges with ruthenium treatment
Self-regulating twin barrel*
Silicon/white gold balance – balance-spring with flat terminal curve*
De Bethune silicon/titanium 36,000 vph 30-second tourbillon*
Silicon escape-wheel*
Jewelling: 35 jewels
Frequency: 36,000

 

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