A Cosmic Trip With The De Bethune DB28 Kind Of Blue “Milky Way”
Master of contemporary creativity, De Bethune offers a radical and singular dialogue of traditional watchmaking. Experiencing one of the most distinguished pieces of the manufacture is a privilege, even more so while under quarantine in Switzerland.
Even in these peculiar times, Watchonista is managing to continue photographing watches in our studio with all needed precautions, of course. Most times, with just the photographer alone with the watches. In some ways, this particular arrangement is limiting, but in other ways, it allows for a sharp focus on the main subject, the watch. And let’s say that with the De Bethune DB28 Kind Of Blue “Milky Way,” we have enough horological substance to capture.
The De Bethune Watchmaking Approach
I have the privilege to own a De Bethune DB25 RM with a blue power reserve, instead of red.
Purchasing this specific watch was the result of a conscientious choice. I was looking for a piece that I would appreciate wearing in the coming decades and would sum-up my interests in watchmaking, industrial design, and art.
In that quest, I tried many great watches from big names to independents. De Bethune was, to my eyes, much more advanced than any others, proposing an iconoclastic vision of what 21st century watchmaking could be. By mixing traditional techniques and advanced materials with a singular aesthetic, the approach of the manufacture is unique. And De Bethune’s commitment to this is absolute and sincere.
All of De Bethune’s idiosyncratic interpretations of contemporary watchmaking are present in the DB28 Kind Of Blue “Milky Way.”
Based on the DB28 case, the watch is, first of all, extremely ergonomic. This is due to a patented mechanism that allows floating lugs to adapt their curve to the wearer’s wrist by pivoting from the center axis of the case. This architecture also opens up the dial considerably, displaying the majesty of the Milky Way and, of course, the 30-second tourbillon.
The Blue As Identity
From De Bethune’s beginning, the brand has used the traditional method of bluing steel for hands quite liberally. So much so that the color blue is definitely an identifying element of the brand. De Bethune then improved that technique by bluing titanium for use in dials and movement components, like tourbillon cages, bridges, etc.
In 2016, De Bethune pushed the limits to the extreme, issuing the DB28 and DB28T Kind Of Blue, in which all possible parts of the watch where done in blued titanium and steel. Each component treatment was studied in order to achieve the maximum homogeneity of color.
The result was radical and something never before seen in the industry. As the temperature modified the physical structure of the materials, a slight shade of blue was deeply ingrained in each piece. This dynamic blue was indescribably magnetic, without any compromise, conferring to the DB28 Kind Of Blue a status much closer to a piece of art than “just” a watch. Appropriately, De Bethune’s approach to this piece should be elevated to another level, as the watchmaking arena is too reductive to define this iconoclastic creation.
In the history of art, blue is the most recent and most complicated color to affix or synthesize. Even today, it’s a nightmare for most industrial artisans or artists. To better understand the technological challenge, I suggest Michel Pastoureau's excellent book, Blue: The History of a Color.
Facing The Milky Way
Majestically displayed on the DB28 Kind Of Blue’s dial (or should say bridges), looking at the Milky Way pattern gives you the feeling of floating through the blue darkness of the Universe.
Stars have always been present on the brand’s dials, like on De Bethune's 2013 Only Watch piece, where initially, these starry dials were applied. Introduced with the Starry Varius, the Milky Way pattern is created using laser beam micro-milling and gilded with 24ct gold leaf.
Even in the creation of what is primarily a decorative aspect, De Bethune is, once again, the master artisan and technological firebrand issuing a challenge to the established orthodoxy of the watch industry.
There is still much to say about this stunning watch. I didn’t even speak about the stunning patented movement, the crazy linear power reserve on the back, and much more. But as I said, the DB28 Kind Of Blue “Milky Way” is much more than a watch.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)