De Bethune’s XP Series: Celebrating The DB28’s 10th Anniversary
To commemorate the introduction of the innovative DB28 case a decade ago, De Bethune unveil three commemorative references under the sign of finesse. We had the privilege to shoot these marvels which run the gamut between the light and shadows.
In watchmaking, contemporality has a name: De Bethune. It’s not the only brand to propose a radical re-reading of horologic classism, but it is, for sure, one of the few who push the limits in every aspect of their creations.
With 27 in-house movements since 2002, De Bethune continues to revisit and explore “600 years of engineering and technics, starting with The Renaissance,” says Master Watchmaker Denis Flageollet. But that approach includes more than just caliber developments.
Like in the 18th century, when “complete watchmakers” were able to conceptualize and build every aspect of watch, including the case, dial and hands, De Bethune is actively exploring all these aspects.
With the XP Series, De Bethune pays tribute and elevates to new levels one of the brand’s most relevant innovations, the articulated DB28 case.
The DB28 Case: An Ergonomic Revolution
At the begging of the 20th century, watches started to migrate from pockets to wrists. At first, the approach to converting pocket watches to wristwatches was quite minimalistic, essentially soldering handles onto pocket watches.
Then, in 1904, Louis Cartier created the Santos de Cartier, at the request of the pioneering Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. And in so doing, Louis Cartier created what can be arguably considered the first modern wristwatch.
And except the ergonomic approach to design taken in the late 1960s and 1970s design (read my article on that period), we haven’t seen fundamental design evolutions since the first Santos de Cartier.
However, in 2010, De Bethune introduce the DB28 case with its revolutionary patented floating lugs and its distinctive crown at 12 o’clock. By adjusting the watch perfectly to the wrist of the wearer as they move, the DB28’s architecture offers ergonomic levels never before reached. We can sense the preliminary research into this technology with the Dream Watch 1 from 2009, as it had two floating lugs at 6 o’clock and the crown at 12 o’clock in tribute to pocket watches heritage.
De Bethune Ultra-Thin DB28XP: Between Lights & Shadows
The first opus in this new trilogy is the DB28XP reference YSX. Of the three, the XP may display more symptoms of research into thinness, which is unsurprising given that XP is short for extra-plat (French for ultra-thin). Yet the play of light on the monochromatic polished titanium surface highlights every aspect of the perpetual tension in the original design.
De Bethune’s quest is not to be the thinnest ever. No, the brand is taking a more global approach to achieving a sensation of lightness. Like the Gran Turismo cars of the 1960s, with their superleggera (ultra-light) bodies, the original DB28 case was fundamentally redesigned so that the floating lugs are almost completely integrated into the case, thus reaching a fluidity of movement never before experienced with a watch case.
The dial, made entirely of Microlight, brings us to the brand’s primary aesthetic codes. Additionally, all the central De Bethune mechanical innovations are present in DB28 XP, such as titanium balance wheel, balance-spring with flat terminal curve, triple pare-chute shock absorbing system, and much more.
De Bethune DB28XP Starry Sky
Inspired by the DB28 Skybridge, the De Bethune DB28XP Starry Sky has the same proportions but with a stunning circular satin-brushed blue dial adorned with a constellation of white gold stars.
The deep blue color used on the dial is a throwback to the beginning of De Bethune’s journey through contemporary watchmaking expression, once again borrowing from tradition, with the steel blue flamed technique. We recently had the opportunity to interact with the DB28 Kind OF Blue “Milky Way,” and we can safely say it was the most extreme “Blue-Bethune” experience. This piece is no different.
De Bethune DB28XP Tourbillon
To close the trilogy, what could be better than an ultra-light De Bethune 30 second tourbillon in titanium? With its minimalist white dial with hand-engraved “barley grain” guilloche pattern, highlighted by a blued hour circle, the tourbillon positioned at 6 o’clock easily captures attention.
The extraordinarily lightweight tourbillon cage rotates every 30 seconds and is made of 63 components. In fact, the cage is the lightest ever, weighing only 0.18 grams. Think of it as a kind of prototype ready to be road tested.
With this commemorative trilogy, De Bethune does more than celebrate 10 years of the DB28. By redesigning the case from a lightweight perspective, the brand has prepared the iconic architecture of the DB28 to meet the challenges in the second decade of its history.
Available for 72,000 CHF (with tax excluded) the Ultra-Thin DB28XP and DB28XP Starry Sky are definitely “sexy birds” for any serious watch collection. Set at 180,000 CHF (again, tax excluded) the DB28XP Tourbillon is on a level of exclusivity all its own. All XP series are non-limited series, only subject to the capacity of De Bethune Manufacture to produce such marvels.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)