De Bethune is Back! Our Interview with CEO Pierre Jacques
We get personal with the man behind De Bethune.
De Bethune always had a special place in the small world of independent haute horology watchmaking brands. Since its creation in 2002, it has opted for total independence by developing its own R&D and production tools. This granted the brand all the freedoms needed to create the high horology of tomorrow. The brand enjoyed tremendous success among collectors and even among their peers. Then came a brutal decline. Today, the brand is reborn thanks to an investment consortium led by Pierre Jacques, former CEO of the brand between 2011 and 2016. De Bethune Version 2.0 is back! The CEO explains his vision to Watchonista…
Why did the brand fall?
Pierre Jacques: « De Bethune has created no less than 25 innovative calibers entirely in-house, achieved more than 30 world premieres, and earned numerous prestigious prizes in a very short time. From 2011 to 2014, revenues were multiplied by 4x! The brand has experienced a phenomenal growth for an independent brand. It became a victim of its own success because it grew too big, too fast. We employed 60 people before the crisis hit and produced more than 400 timepieces. This is huge for such a small structure! Suddenly the circumstances changed radically. Russia, which was a big market for us, closed overnight. The Euro crisis kicked in and broke the momentum further. Then the 30% price raise after 2016 further pushed the brand out of the market. Luckily, De Bethune reaches out to truely passionate people who have never completely abandoned the brand. »
Why did you come back?
P.J.: « Above all, I am passionate about high horology and DB is a unique brand with a strong philosophy. I needed to find my personal convictions again in order to work with the utmost efficiency. I strive for the emotion that creates exceptional timepieces and to share them with the largest number of people possible. This is what I am looking for here, why I came back. To be honest, one never really leaves De Bethune. »
What is your strategy to revive the brand?
P.J.: « First and foremost, we needed to rebuild the trust inside the team. The arrival of well-known investors has already boosted everyone back on track. For the rest, the watchmaking concept has always been in place. The products are here. Their innovativeness, unique aesthetics and quality is still recognized. Now we need to show some modesty in our ambitions as much as in our growth. We have already repositioned our prices to 2015 levels. We plan to produce less quantities. Growth will follow step by step, realistically, sensibly. We are finding again our spirit of watchmaking craftsmen of the 21st century. We will concentrate on growth through innovation and already have new complications and aesthetics in preparation.
Our biggest strength is our community, whose interest has never failed. Collectors and retailers express it to us all the time since the relaunch: our watchmaking credibility is intact. It is quite moving to witness this. Results for 2018 are already here to prove it. And we will continue to develop our bespoke orders for unique or personalized pieces. It already represents 30% of our production. We are so blessed to have our integrated production tool to respond quickly to this growing demand. »
All lights are green for a great comeback of De Bethune 2.0 but no trumpeting nor chest beating just the mute sound of watchmaking excellence. This is great news for the lovers of independent, innovative and different high horology.