Watches: De Bethune DB25 T Zodiac (live pics & video)

By Thierry Ané on February 19, 2015

Since the very inception of De Bethune, founders David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet have shown in their creations the immense respect they have for the traditions of Haute Horlogerie but also their uncompromising search for original and contemporary aesthetics as well as for the most technologically-advanced watchmaking solutions.

In more ways than one, nowhere are these guidelines more clearly showcased then with the new DB25 T Zodiac timekeeper. Both the mechanism and design of this exceptional model rely on the very best techniques perfected through centuries of horological history as much as they highlight the brand’s artistic and mechanical innovations.

This 44 mm round piece in white gold with open-worked lugs draws its inspiration from the tower clocks that once dictated the rhythm of the day and were a window onto the technical breakthroughs achieved by the best clockmakers who were also building scientific instruments critical to Human Progress. But it also reminds that traditional decorative techniques can coexist with resolutely modern design elements.

The centre of this exquisite dial pays tribute to the fine craft of guilloché, an age-old decorative technique that captures the light through the use of very precise intricate repetitive patterns engraved by hand. Its beautiful silver shade is picked up by the extremely classic silver-toned hours and minutes rings using respectively Roman and Arabic numerals for contrast.

This flawless classicism is then successfully disturbed by a stunning ring in blue mirror-polished titanium. This colourful element has been inlaid with solid white gold stars as a symbol for the star-studded sky. Although the engine turning machines used for the guilloché are usually antiques and the overall technique passed on from one generation of watchmakers to the next, the difficulty of machining titanium calls for utterly modern decorative skills to achieve the perfect finish of this blue-coloured ring. Not only does the dial benefit from the juxtaposition of these old and new artistic crafts but it also appears as a manifest of De Bethune’s philosophy.

This magnificent star-studded sky background is then enhanced by twelve solid gold inserts that have been hand-engraved by renowned artist Michèle Rothen to represent the twelve zodiac signs. This is of course a direct reference to a common motif of many tower clocks throughout European cities.

This extremely gifted artist already teamed up with the brand in the past. She used the bas relief engraving technique to depict numerals of the Mayan numbering system, glyphs of divinities, animals and sacred objects representing days of the calendar on the DB25 IXe Inframonde Maya in 2012 and again in 2013 on the DB25 Imperial Fountain to represent the twelve animal heads of the Chinese zodiac adorned with Grand Feu enamel.

She demonstrated once again the extent of her talent on the DB25 T Zodiac to illustrate the 12 zodiac signs. Despite their small sizes, each gold insert shows a remarkable richness of details and magnificent light effects picked up by the yellow gold open-worked hours and minutes hands.

Everything seems to be devoted to refinement and aesthetics on the dial of this DB25 T Zodiac and one could almost believe the watchmaking component is of secondary importance for this creation. Watch enthusiasts with a keen eye, though, will surely notice the ticking flame-blued central seconds hand indicating that they are in the presence of a dead-beat seconds.

One will have to flip the watch over, though, and study the DB2109 calibre to appreciate the extent of its complexity. In addition to the true beat mechanism, this high-end manually-wound movement with 4 days of power reserve beats at the high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour and features a 30-second silicon/titanium tourbillon escapement. Looking more closely, the connoisseur will also be able to admire the silicon and white gold balance featuring a balance spring with flat terminal curve.

From an aesthetic point of view, this exquisite calibre maintains the deltoid-shaped bridge that has become a trademark of the brand. It is adorned with beautiful large “Côtes De Bethune” decorations and present expertly bevelled and mirror-polished edges. Every component of this calibre, visible or not, has been finished with the same superlative standards.

Mounted on a dark navy blue alligator strap secured by a white gold pin buckle, the DB25 T Zodiac will be produced in a limited series of just 20 pieces. In every aspect, it is a timepiece that exemplifies what makes Fine Watchmaking so interesting in general and why De Bethune is so appreciated by discerning watch collectors.

For more information please visit the De Bethune web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: