Recently I placed a De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator upon my wrist. As I admired the blue central area of the De Bethune timepiece, I thought of Carly Simon singing the song, “Nobody Does It Better”. Quite simply, I know of no other brand of watch that is more accomplished when it comes to the thermal bluing of metal.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - “Nobody does it better”
De Bethune, whilst designing inherently modern timepieces, respect tradition and wonderfully exploit flame to impart an alluring blue hue to metal. Surprisingly, the dial of this watch is not steel, the metal often subject to thermal bluing, but titanium.
Blued screws are appearing on many mid-priced timepieces. However, these are inferior chemically blued items, not thermally blued. The difference is the skill necessary to bring the latter to fruition. Prolonged exposure to heat causes the item to acquire the blue shade. But, expose the metal to heat for a moment too long and the chance of achieving the desired colour is lost.
The consistent shade of blue is yet further evidence of the adroit skill exhibited by the artisans at De Bethune.
By thermally bluing components, they become harder and more resistant to corrosion. Whilst I like to see chemically blued components on low-mid priced watches, utopia is thermal bluing. This is just one illustration of the exalted creation of a De Bethune timepiece and perfectly illustrates the reason the brand often attracts favourable comment from the cognoscenti. There are, however, many other attributes of this timepiece which command a six-figure price tag.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - The Dial
At first glance the dial may appear simple. However, look more closely and you will notice a plethora of details which induce admiration. The central area of the dial, as previously mentioned, is blued titanium and represents a nocturnal sky. Gold stars, of varying size, decorate the sky in three dimensional splendour, affording a depth to the spectacle.
Breguet-style hour and minute hands,in hand-polished steel, reach towards hour and minute tracks respectively; their length is perfectly judged to correspond with Roman numerals on the hour track and Arabic numerals on the minute track. It is this attention to detail which confers peerless legibility.
The hour and minute tracks are made from sterling silver and have a cambered profile, again, masterfully manipulating depth. The intention of the watch company, by selecting sterling silver, is for the metal to acquire a patina over time.
A central seconds hand, located between the hour track and minute track, is slender in profile and interfaces with the chapter ring. However, this is no regular seconds display. This is a dead-beat seconds or “seconde morte”.
Usually on a mechanical watch, the seconds hand advances in small increments, with each second dictated by the frequency of the movement. For example, a watch with a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) will see the seconds hand advance in four steps per second. In the case of the dead-beat seconds, the seconds hand jumps every second in one distinct motion. The complication proves ideal for the synchronisation of other watches. But to the connoisseur, it is the complexity of its construction which is particularly appealing.
Completing the functions depicted on the dial is a “movement operating indicator”, located at 12 o’clock.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - The Case
The case is presented in rose or white gold. De Bethune has cleverly fused the classicism of the round drum-shaped case with the modernity of the integrated hollowed lugs. The resultant aesthetic appearance is delightfully resolved.
I am a fan of the brand’s floating lugs which provide an incredibly comfortable and secure fit. However, they do not feature on the DB25T. Nevertheless, the comfort provided by 44mm case and the hollowed lugs is excellent.
Allowing my fingers to roam over the case, I found the execution of its form to be exquisite. There are no rough or sharp edges, everything is honed to perfection. The caseback features a wide sapphire crystal to allow viewing of the movement and the tourbillon with 30-second indication.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - The Movement
The Calibre DB 2119 is a hand-wound movement and looks unlike any other movement on the market. A shield-shaped bridge is located centrally and accords a symmetry to the movement when viewed east to west. The DB25T houses a 30-second tourbillon which is made of silicon-titanium. The low mass of the tourbillon, weighing a mere 0.18 grams, is remarkable, especially considering it consists of 64 parts.
The rationale for low mass is that, coupled with a high frequency balance oscillating at 5Hz, the tourbillon is able to rotate at high speed, enhancing accuracy. Moreover, the low mass of the tourbillon requires less inertia to rotate and, by default, less energy is used.
Whilst I admire the ingenuity employed in the creation of the Calibre DB 2119, it is the magnificent finishing which I find particularly seductive. Côtes de Genève is increasingly appearing on accessibly priced watches and this, in my opinion, is wonderful. However, De Bethune take this to another level. When decorating a movement with Geneva Stripes, the watchmaker is trying to seek the perfect balance between clearly defined lines but without undue roughness. On the De Bethune Calibre DB 2119 this finish is delivered to perfection.
The previously mentioned shield shape bridge is hand-chamfered. The internal angles, the most challenging to work on, are also expertly executed. The Calibre DB 2119 is wonderful in its demonstration of elevated watchmaking skill.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - Conclusion
Although, I ordinarily restrict writing editorial on those watches I admire, I concede few timepieces are perfect. Invariably, compromises are made. Often a watch manufacturer has to make small sacrifices to ensure a product can be priced within a particular market segment or ease of production can be guaranteed.
On the face it of it, there are few concessions visible with the De Bethune Tourbillon Regulator DB25T. It would appear to be perfect. Some may counter that its styling is not to their taste or dislike the use of a silicon escape wheel, preferring the use of more traditional materials. However, neither of these comments would dissuade me from wanting this watch.
Sadly, the cultivated and distilled creation of the De Bethune Tourbillon Regulator DB25T will prove financially elusive to many admirers, myself included, and it is arguably for this reason alone it cannot be considered perfect. However, it comes very close.
De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator - Technical Specification
Case: White gold, diameter 44mm, height 12.50mm, sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
Functions: Hours, minutes, dead-beat seconds, tourbillon with 30-second indication, movement operating indicator.
Movement: Calibre DB 2119, hand-wound movement, frequency 36,000 vph (5Hz), 47 jewels, power reserve 4 days.
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with white gold pin buckle.
More resources about the De Bethune DB25T Tourbillon Regulator on the Official De Bethune Website.