Watches: De Bethune DB28 Digitale and Dream Watch 5 (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on February 24, 2014

During the SIHH week, Swiss luxury brand De Bethune entertained journalists, retailers and VIP guests in the salons of a Genevan hotel with two new timepieces that are aesthetically completely different. Since they are mechanically similar, however, it makes sense to discuss them contemporaneously in this article. The comparison only stresses the incredible creativity of this brand in terms of design.

The first model belongs to the DB28 line but departs from the typical dial aesthetic of this successful series. Indeed, the major part of the watch’s face is covered with a beautiful hand-engraved silver-toned barleycorn guilloché and is devoid of any hand. The DB28 Digitale actually uses a rotating analogue dial to indicate the minutes and a digital display for the hours. It also features De Bethune’s trademark 3-dimensional moon phase at the centre of the dial, bringing the total to three distinct types of display on the same model.

In line with previous models, the moon that will not require adjustment for 1,112 years is composed of two hemispheres, one in palladium and the other one in flame-blued steel. It is surrounded by a magnificent circle of blued steel that has been encrusted with bits of white gold to create the illusion of stars in the night sky. This realistic depiction of a star-studded sky is also used to adorn the edge of the minutes disc.

The back of this understated timekeeper presents a sapphire crystal that offers a spectacular view of the DB 2144 calibre. Surprisingly, the design is similar to what is usually found on the face of DB28 models with the instantly recognisable delta-shaped bridges that have been adorned with a Côte de Bethune motif. The flame-blued steel parts as well as the exclusive circular silicon and white gold balance wheel located at 6 o’clock are additional signs of the brand’s unique aesthetics.

This remarkable hand-wound movement also features De Bethune's exclusive self-regulating twin barrels that offer 5 days of power reserve, a balance spring with a flat end curve, as well as the triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system. It is housed in a 40 mm titanium case with a high polish finish and the patented floating lugs system. It is paired with a black alligator strap secured by a polished titanium pin buckle.

Known as the Dream Watch 5, the second model I would like to discuss today is an extremely futuristic looking timepiece or even an “authentic wrist sculpture” as the brand calls it. This delta-shaped watch entirely crafted in mirror-polished titanium bears an uncanny resemblance with the iconic bridges found on the dial of most DB models and on the back of the DB28 Digitale we have just discussed.

The similarities do not end there: the Dream Watch 5 also features the three distinct types of display that make the DB28 Digitale model so special. The movement is not exactly the same though. It has been reworked so that the three indications can be aligned in the only aperture that appears on the top of the case.

The focus is indeed more on the streamlined design of this 39.00 x 49.00 mm Dream Watch than it is on showcasing the movement and its complexity. Although it obviously received the same attention in terms of finish as the DB28 Digitale, the owner of the Dream Watch 5 will not be able to admire it as even the case back is closed. However, this titanium back bears the signatures of David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet, the two brand’s founders. The only decorative touch is the presence of a cabochon-cut ruby in the crown.

Whether your style is classic or avant-garde your heart will lean towards the DB28 Digitale or the Dream Watch 5. There is no denying, however, that both watches are extremely refined and belong to the hall of fame of Haute Horology. It is also particularly enlightening to observe them simultaneously as it exemplifies how a brand can produce diametrically different renditions of the same idea when it is creative enough.

As usual now, you will find below the rest of our photo session and we will definitely come back on this incredible brand with our Basel report.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: