Perhaps there is a cabal of stylists meeting somewhere in the world, picking through colour swatches or other colour names from a hat, and dictating the colour of the year to fashion houses and watch companies. Some of us remain scarred from when it was raining brown dials, some time ago. This year, it is green. And what a gorgeous shade of it that De Bethune has chosen to carpet its DB25 Perpetual Calendar. It’s a deep green with a touch of grey in it; and comparing swatches, it seems to be a shade of myrtle green. With no official word from De Bethune, one is likely to go mad trying to nail down the exact hue, so we shall go no further, and content ourselves with how exclusive, almost regal and calming this shade of green is, wonderfully complemented by the silver dial markings and leaf-shaped hands in steel, curved and hand-worked to a brilliant mirror polish.
Earlier editions of the DB25 Perpetual Calendar were cased either in white gold or rose gold; the latest in green is cased in titanium. While perpetual calendars generally sport busy displays with a wealth of subdials or apertures to display the myriad information required of the complication, the dial of the DB25 is expansive, adequately spaced, conveying information clearly, at a calming pace. The hand guilloche central dial is divided into 12 radiating segments; hours, date, and moon phase tracks are raised rings, the latter flanked by day and month windows to effect fetching symmetry and dimensionality. The starry sky at ‘12’ is black steel inlaid with rose gold stars.
A trait that extends to every watch in De Bethune’s repertoire, the DB25 Perpetual Calendar’s neoclassic looks is a natural canvas for the radical innovations that the manufacture has conceived and executed over the years. These include the spherical moon phase in palladium and black oxide zirconium that goes off by one lunar day in 122 years. Beating within, the self-winding DB2324 clocks a list of innovations created by De Bethune to improve the mechanical watch at a very fundamental level. The balance spring with flat terminal curve ensures concentric breathing to achieve consistent timekeeping. The balance wheel is also a beneficiary of constant improvement at De Bethune. In the case of the DB25 Perpetual Calendar, the balance wheel is a construct of titanium and white gold, to achieve the optimum combination of inertia and lightness. De Bethune was among the first to investigate the applications of silicium. Here, it is used for fabricating the escape wheel, where silicium’s frictional properties would be crucial.
To make its movements more robust, De Bethune also created the triple pare-chute shock absorbing system in 2005 and used here. According to De Bethune, this made it the first company to secure the balance wheel with a bridge on two points instead of the conventional balance cock still much in use today; the pare-chute system also includes a trio of shock absorbing screws at the bridge and the balance wheel to buffer the whole assembly against shocks. De Bethune even devised a shock absorbing system to protect the heavy oscillating weight in titanium and white gold from further damaging the movement in case of shock.
Using a twin barrel design De Bethune created in 2004, a fully-wound DB2324 has the power reserve to run for five days, a feat that to this day, is far from commonplace.
De Bethune has hit so many balls out of the park that the manufacture can seemingly do no wrong. In this latest creation, it took its classic DB25 Perpetual Calendar and give it a new colourway. Hardly innovating. Yet nothing wrong with that. The company’s long list of innovations speak for themselves and commentators who crave something groundbreakingly new with every novelty released should cover technology instead. A watch is not a CPU; beauty, craft, history are all factors in arousing an emotive response to a watch, while for a CPU, what principally matters is how many operations it can perform at what cost compared to another. And courtesy of the radical improvements it has made of proceedings beneath the dial, De Bethune has more right than many to create new watches by slapping on a new dial.
Besides, it’s hard to think of another watch company that is able to so seamlessly meld neoclassic aesthetics with such cutting edge technological innovation. Genius, undoubtedly. And what a delicious shade of green.
Movement: Self-winding DB2324, perpetual calendar, titanium and white gold balance wheel and oscillating weight, silicon escape wheel, spherical moon phase accurate to 122 years, 28’800 vph, five days power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, moon phase, leap year, month, date, day
Case: Titanium, 44mm diameter, 11.1mm thickness, sapphire crystal, display back, water resistant to 3 ATM
Strap: Textile/leather strap with titanium pin buckle
More Information: debethune.ch