When De Bethune CEO Pierre Jacques took over in 2011, his plan was to make the DB28 the flagship model of the brand. And it was — from its mobile lugs to “movement as dial” and a showcase for “how perfectly the brand could polish titanium”. In 2015, De Bethune unveiled the DB28 GS, the GS standing for Grand Sport, which was evidenced through a more robust build and 100-meter waterproofness. The latest watch in the Grand Sport line is the JPS, a nod to the Lotus racing cars of the 1970s and ’80s that were bedecked in the black and gold color scheme of sponsors John Player Special cigarettes. Now, to many watch collectors the moniker JPS belongs to a particular configuration of an iconic vintage sports chronograph. For another brand to adopt this moniker, there must be something pretty special afoot surely? Step forward the new black and gold DB28GS JPS…
I actually remember my favorite Scalextric car as a kid. It was a black and gold Lotus, and I used to thrash it around my double-extended Series 200 set with my brother who smoked a Ferrari. The cars were driven by racing luminaries such as Mario Andretti and UK hero Nigel Mansell. It was these single-seater Lotus JPS F1 cars that first really embraced the technological advancements of the time in terms of aerodynamics and computer-assisted driving. As veteran F1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart told me last year when I interviewed him, a lot of domestic car manufacturers and other industries, including watchmaking, adopt technology pioneered by Formula 1.
It is in this spirit that Denis Flageollet and his team have been fine-tuning De Bethune’s sports watch. The watch is made from steel, titanium and zirconium with alternating polished and matte surfaces in dark gray and black. Whereas previously, the titanium has been blued in the brand’s signature, it is now yellow titanium that takes center stage and offers the gold tone in the JPS. So much more than simply making titanium yellow, the process of oxidizing the metal to create this new hue is testament to Flageollet and his team’s tenacity when experimenting with new techniques and technological advancements.
It was Forumula 1’s, and in particular Lotus’s, development of aerodynamics that led to some of the most stable cars in racing history. The so-called “upside-down” aeroplane wing profile meant that the car utilized all of the suction effect of the car’s shape to make it stick to the track. Flageollet and the watchmakers at De Bethune used this technology in its opposite form to reduce this suction effect between the movement’s regulating organs and the mainplate. DLC was another technology in which F1 was at the forefront of early research and adopting of. De Bethune has been using this technique to coat the hardened steel of its floating lugs and bezels to great effect and to improve the durability of these components. Oh, and it looks incredibly cool too!
On the subject of cool, a sports watch has to be legible in all conditions. The DB28GS does, in fact, have an in-built light, to allow one to tell the time quickly and efficiently whatever the time of day or lighting conditions in which the wearer finds himself. Pressing a button at six o’clock provides light that floods the dial. Run entirely without the aid of electronics or a battery, the light is powered by a miniature dynamo that is driven by a double barrel.
Comfortable, light, cool-looking and driven by one of the most incredible movements ever designed, this latest sports watch from De Bethune will certainly get your heart racing faster than even the greatest Lotus car!
De Bethune DB28GS “JPS”, Ref. DB28GSV2JPS
Movement: Manual-winding caliber DB2080; power reserve of 5 days
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indication between nine and 10 o’clock, unidirectional rotating bezel, manual dial lighting
Case: 44mm; black zirconium case-middle with “Microlight” decoration; black brushed and polished hardened stainless steel caseback and bezel. Floating lugs in black brushed hardened stainless steel with yellow polished grade 5 titanium inserts; water resistant to 105m
Dial: Black satin-brushed grade 5 titanium minutes dial with cutout Arabic numerals
Bracelet: Natural rubber strap or canvas/leather strap with folding clasp in black brushed hardened stainless steel
Price: CHF 105,000
Availability: Limited edition of 50 pieces