De Bethune and record producer Kasseem Dean, better known as Swizz Beatz have joined forces once again to revive one of the most strikingly unusual watches the brand has ever created – the DBD Digitale – in a 13-piece limited edition. Their initial collaboration dates back to 2020, when Swizz Beatz approached the brand with a request to recreate the Dream Watch 5. The result was the Dream Watch 5 Tourbillon ‘Season 1’ launched the following year, featuring an open-worked ogive-shaped case that was fitted with seven pieces of precision-cut sapphire crystals to allow for greater visibility of the hour and minute discs as well as the brand’s distinctive spherical moon.
The DBD Digitale was first introduced back in 2006 in a highly limited quantity, available in white and rose gold. With a case shaped somewhat like a horseshoe and a dial with digital displays reminiscent of pocket watches created during the Art Deco era, it was a major departure from anything ever produced by the brand, and its uniqueness still endures today.
The De Bethune x Swizz Beatz DBD Season 2 is executed in zirconium, which has a rich, silvery grey hue that has been polished to mirror shine. This metal is rather uncommon in watchmaking as it is challenging to machine and polish, but it has several advantages. Zirconium is significantly lighter than steel, more durable and corrosion-resistant than titanium, and has exceptional hypoallergenic properties. The case stands out for having its crown positioned at 12 o’clock and its use of two distinct lug designs. It features ogival, bullet-shaped lugs at its base, while its upper lug is hinged, and attached to a metal tab to which the strap is fixed. As a result of this design, the watch wears a lot smaller than its almost 43mm case diameter would suggest.
On the burgundy dial, a single in-line window displays the day of the week, date, and month. At the stroke of midnight, all these calendar indications progress instantaneously and simultaneously. The minutes is displayed in a semi-circular aperture positioned below, and the jumping hours are indicated in a smaller window at six o’clock. The dial is beautifully austere; with the exception of the three visible jewels that serve as pivots for the time and date wheels, it is decorated with only vertical Geneva stripes and the De Bethune nameplate situated above the date window.
Notably, the DBD Season 2 does away with the brand’s signature spherical moon phase, which hung on a blued titanium sky dotted with gold stars on the back of the original. Instead, it has a sapphire case back that showcases the calibre DB2044 and all its greatest technical hits. As with all De Bethune movements, it has been optimized for maximum efficiency at every stage. Visible under the delta-shape barrel bridge is a pair of self-regulating double barrels that are fitted with jewelled blades on their upper and lower faces to minimize friction and offers a five-day power reserve.
The escape wheel, the fastest rotating wheel in the going train, is made of silicon, which has a low density and a perfect surface state, allowing it to operate with little energy and friction. It is paired with a high-performance balance wheel made of blued titanium, operating at a frequency of 4Hz. It is also fitted with white gold regulating weights around its periphery, providing adequate oscillating inertia. By using low-density titanium, the weight of the balance wheel is kept in check, achieving an optimal mass-inertia ratio. Its hairspring has a uniquely flat and wide terminal curve which reduces its height while enhancing concentricity. A rounded, mirror-polished balance bridge secures the balance, and is flanked by De Bethune’s patented triple pare-chute shock absorber. It consists of an additional pair of springs that complement the conventional Incabloc shock protection for the balance staff, hence the triple moniker.
While De Bethune watches have always had an explosive artistic or mechanics-celebratory beauty, the DBD ‘Season 2’ deviates drastically and hews instead to a pleasantly austere, and even traditional aesthetic that offers a gripping contrast to the back of the watch, which reassures us of what it really is all about.
DBD Season 2, Reference: DBDSB
Movement: Hand-wound DB2109V4, power reserve of 4 days
Functions: Jumping hours and minutes; instantaneous day, date and month
Case: 42.6mm by 9.4mm; Anthracite polished zirconium; water-resistant to 30m
Dial: Burgundy dial with “Côtes de Genève”
Strap: Textile and extra-supple alligator leather with matching lining; Anthracite polished zirconium buckle with burgundy grade 5 titanium pin
Availability: Limited to 13 pieces