The De Bethune DB28GS JPS: Capturing The Spirit of Formula One’s Golden Age
Packing eye-catching black and gold tones, the brand’s new sports watch pays tribute to the successful John Player Special-sponsored Lotus F1 team of the 1970s.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of De Bethune. And as part of its celebrations, the popular independent brand has released a fresh, motorsport-inspired take on its first ever dedicated sports watch, the DB28GS.
Unveiled during the brand’s recent exhibition at the Beau-Rivage Hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva, the new DB28GS JPS takes inspiration from the golden age of Formula One. Namely, the successful Team Lotus that won seven F1 constructors’ titles and six drivers’ championships between 1963 and 1978 and which became indelibly associated with the black and gold of its John Player Special-liveried cars and drivers.
To create the DB28GS JPS, De Bethune co-founder and master watchmaker Denis Flageollet and his team have marshaled the brand’s expertise at treating high-tech metals to color components in the most eye-catching of ways, with black and gold tones to the fore on this limited edition.
Having already mastered the art of bluing Grade 5 titanium, Flageollet and company have now perfected the oxidization process to produce a remarkable yellow titanium. And this oxidized titanium accounts for most of the gilded accents on the DB28GS JPS, from the movement bridges that form the dial to the inserts of the signature “floating” lugs. Meanwhile, the hour and minute hands feature yellow steel inserts with the second hand also made of yellow steel.
Setting off these golden highlights is an ensemble of stealthy, blackened elements, starting with the grooved 44mm zirconium caseband accompanied by a caseback, rotating bezel, and articulated lugs in DLC-treated hardened stainless steel. On the dial side, many of the exposed movement parts (as well as the hands and minute ring) are in blackened titanium. It is all covered by a sapphire crystal that is 1,800 Vickers hard.
Besides the black and gold colorway, the use of sturdy, lightweight metals and highly resistant coatings is meant to be a nod to the 1970s. That is when the JPS-sponsored Team Lotus dominated Formula One, and when new materials and material treatments were being pioneered in earnest to improve track performance.
Let There Be Light
Bar the power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock, all of the hands of the DB28GS JPS have lume-filled tips for improved readability. But the displays are made even more legible thanks to a mechanically driven white light that illuminates the dial at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.
The energy for the light is supplied via a miniature dynamo featuring a gear train driven by the movement’s double barrel, with the light-activated by pressing a pusher at 6 o’clock. Furthermore, the on-demand light system has been designed so that it has no adverse effect on the smooth running of the movement.
Boasting 400 components and a five-day power reserve, the DB28GS JPS’ engine – the caliber DB2080 – packs several of the brand’s patented innovations. These include a 4Hz titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts that is optimized for temperature differences and air penetration, a hairspring with a flat terminal curve, a silicon escape wheel, and a triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system.
And as you would expect from De Bethune, the finishing is at a high level, with the yellow titanium elements mirror-polished and the blackened titanium parts hand-smoothed and grooved to echo the caseband. Meanwhile, the steel parts have been chamfered and polished by hand, and the barrel lids snailed.
Pricing & Availability
Water resistant to 105 meters, the DB28GS JPS is fitted with a sporty natural rubber strap, though it also comes with a canvas and leather strap so owners can change things up if they want to.