Introducing the DB28 Steel Wheels Blue: The Hour Glass Commemorative EditionBy Sumit Nag
Singapore based retailer of fine timepieces, The Hour Glass has long been a champion of independent watchmakers. And on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, a few of these maverick brands have created special timepieces to mark the milestone year.
One such brand is De Bethune, a highly revered name in the realm. To speak of just some of their achievements and original contributions to the knowledge set of watchmaking, we can start as early as 2003, when De Bethune designed an all-new regulator that was 20 percent more effective than the balance wheels that are most commonly used in the industry.
In 2006, De Bethune created a completely in-house vertical clutch, 30-second chronograph that broke ahead of the crowd of standard chronograph ebauche movements and modules in the industry.
De Bethune is known to have created the “triple pare-chute” system that isolates the balance wheel from shocks, while most of the industry relies on the Kif and Incabloc solutions.
De Bethune is marked for having created the world’s first sports watch movement where the winding rate of the rotor could be altered with a mere turn of the crown to prevent overstripping of the barrels.
Their three-dimensional moon phase indicator is a first of its kind, they were the first to make sapphire hands, the first to create a system for mobile lugs, the first chronograph with five co-axially mounted hands, the first flat terminal curve to better chronometric effect than the Breguet overcoil, first spring barrels with ruby sliders to eliminate friction inside the barrel, the first automatic rotor assembly rotating on rubies — the list is seemingly unending.
But the one thing that De Bethune is most unquestionably recognized for today, is their artistry with titanium and, particularly, their mastery of heating the material to bring out striking colors. Case in point, the DB28 Kind of Blue.
Now to speak of the DB28, what must first be understood is that here is a watch that bears almost all of De Bethune’s list of innovations — in one watch — including the 2016, titanium balance wheel with gold inserts, optimized for temperature differences and air penetration, a De Bethune patent.
First announced in 2010, the DB28 has since been seen to take on several faces. The most recent of which has been the highly lauded DB28 Yellow Tones, launched at Baselworld 2019. The process by which the grade 5 titanium case of the Yellow Tones is given its radiant hue is by delicately flaming the metal to the temperatures where its surface oxidizes to result in the desired color. Heating and oxidizing the surface of titanium in this manner can yield a variety of colors pertaining to the temperature that it is heat-treated at. Thus far, De Bethune’s signature color in this regard has been the brilliant blue of the DB28 Kind of Blue.
Prior to this at SIHH 2018, De Bethune introduced the DB28 Steel Wheels, which sought to show off more of the watch that lies beneath its dial. And needless to say, there are many out there who have been anticipating a variation of the DB28 Steel Wheels that would come in De Bethune’s signature blued titanium. Enter the DB28 Steel Wheels Blue made for The Hour Glass’ 40th anniversary.
On the occasion, Pierre Jacques, CEO of De Bethune said, “We have chosen to create the DB28 Steel Wheels in a special edition to pay homage to the creative passion for mechanical excellence in watchmaking, an ethos shared dearly by The Hour Glass.”
The DB28 Steel Wheels Blue, features a 42.6mm grade 5 titanium case, in said heat-treated blue. The movement within, the DB2115 has double self-regulating barrels that push out 6 days of power reserve. It is regulated by De Bethune’s flat terminal curve balance spring set within their own titanium balance wheel paired with a silicon escape wheel, all of which is protected against shock by, again, their own “triple pare-chute” shock absorption system. Lastly, let’s not forget the palladium and blued steel three-dimensional moon set at 6 o’clock that boasts 122 years of accuracy, before it accumulates a day’s error.
Summing up the watch, Pierre Jacques shares, “Taking a distinguished watch as such and combining it with De Bethune’s signature blue hue, a color that is synonymous to perpetuity — is our way of showing appreciation to our long-time partner and friend, The Hour Glass, for their dedication to cultivating watch appreciation globally.”
Manual winding DB2115V4; hour and minutes; moon phase; power reserve display on back of movement; 144-hour power reserve
42.6 mm; blued polished grade 5 titanium
Alligator leather with alligator lining; pin buckle in blued polished grade 5 titanium
Limited edition of 5 pieces