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June 22, 2024

De Bethune: DB28XP Kind of Blue

‘The blue expresses the truth.’ This is a quote from the 17th century British playwright Ben Jonson, but it could also be used by De Bethune as a payoff. No other watch brand, dare we say, is capable of handling this colour in such a seductive manner. Every De Bethune blue is a colourful mechanical poem on the wrist, and the new DB28XP Kind of Blue, presented at Geneva Watch Days at the end of August, is no exception. 

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

FROM DB28 TO DB28XP

Before we go into details, however, let’s take a step back. The DB28XP was released in 2020 to mark the 10th anniversary of the DB28 family. The XP acronym sums up the French expression ‘extra plat’ – ultra-thin – since the XP the DB28’s original dimensions were reduced to 43 mm x 7.2 mm, about 2 mm thinner than the model with the spherical moon phases.

De Bethune DB28XP 10° Anniversary Triptych
DB28XP 10° Anniversary Triptych

Part of the thickness reduction stems from the disappearance of the spherical complication, but also from the fact that the construction of the movement was conceived flat from the start. The DB28XP Kind Of Blue is slightly thicker than the original DB28XP, as it measures 43 mm x 8.5 mm, and the power reserve display is visible through the transparent case back.

De Bethune DB28XP 10° Anniversary

Beyond the dimensions, in the creation of the DB28XP Kind of Blue De Bethune balanced unparalleled expertise in the workmanship of the materials and handling of the mechanics with the aesthetic quest to find that shade of blue that would make the difference. Although it is the collections’ main colour, this watch has something extra. Something we want you to perceive through our exclusive shooting.

DB28XP KIND OF BLUE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF COLOUR

The depth of the blue on De Bethune’s Kind Of Blue is hard to imagine unless you see it in person. The classic term to describe hot-blued metals is ‘cornflower blue’, a blue with a light touch of green. A noble colour inthe history ofart and in jewellery: it was in fact the great Flemish painter Jan Vermeer’s favourite shade of blue, and one that sometimes defines the most precious sapphires.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

Moreover, the beauty of this watch lies in its ability to change how we perceive the colour blue in watchmaking. In fact, we normally find hands or screws in blued metal, but when dealing with De Bethune, the use of blued titanium is complete, totalising. Unsettling, in a way.

In the case of the DB28XP Kind of Blue, it also has an important effect: it gives volume and depth to a case that is ultra-flat and which, for that very reason, could risk going unnoticed. The classic design of ultra-flat watches is quite simple: round, two hands, often without small seconds or central seconds, with a calibre designed to be as slim as possible. Features that do not help the timepiece to stand out on the wrist.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

This watch’s blue contrasts with all this. It is an uneven colour, indeed, depending on the angle and intensity of the light striking it, it can even appear black or extremely bright. This can be seen on the case as well as on the dial. 

DE BETHUNE’S SIGNATURE ON THE DIAL

The dial itself deserves a closer look. Among the various decorations that characterise De Bethune, there is one that offers an updated interpretation of the traditional guilloché technique. It is the so-called Microlight process which, applied to flat surfaces or raised edges on the movement, accentuates and reinforces a certain structure or motif. Playing with light and shadow effects, it adds a sense of depth and creates a more dynamic architectural result. Here, it is applied on the dial, and develops from the balance wheel (at 6 o’clock) creating concentric circles reminiscent of the ripples produced by a stone thrown into water.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

Above them, at the centre of the dial, is the large delta-shaped plate, De Bethune’s signature, on which the polished pink gold hour and minute hands stand out. A splash of colour that does not break the harmony of the blue but blends with it, as do the twelve spheres, also in pink gold, which serve as hour markers and shine like stars in the night sky of the flange. The smooth finish of the delta plate accentuates the dial’s play of contrasts.

Below it, at 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock, peep the two barrels of the DB2115v12 calibre, which give further depth to the whole. With the balance wheel at 6 o’clock, they form the vertices of a hypothetical triangle, another delta but inverted compared to the blue one that stands out on the dial. A game of cross-references, an entanglement that makes the DB28XP Kind of Blue even more fascinating.

DB28XP KIND OF BLUE: NEAT BACK TOO

While the dial is seductive, hiding the watch back is a shame. The DB28XPS Kind Of Blue has a six-day autonomy, quite incredible for an extra-flat watch, and the power reserve indicator is visible by turning the timepiece over. Its essential, almost brutal design with that long rose gold lever makes it really beautiful, in our opinion.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

Moreover, it seems to have been designed to add as little thickness aspossible to the movement. All its components are placed on the same plane and the 1.3 mm difference between the case of the Kind Of Blue and that of the original DB28XPS stems most likely from the addition of this complication. 

The sapphire crystal on the case back has a double anti-reflective treatment, like the front piece, and is hard 1,800 Vickers. On the Vickers Scale, which measures materials’ hardness, this is a respectable value considering that an element such as boron, among the hardest, reaches 2,500 Vickers. In essence, this glass is virtually unbreakable.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

The transparent back reveals another feature of this watch: the fact that, in the De Bethune tradition, it is made in a limited edition. Only 25 pieces have been made and the limited edition number is engraved on the casing ring.

AN ARCHITECTURAL CASE

The DB28XPS Kind Of Blue’s case design is a De Bethune classic,characterised by well-known elements: we are talking about the crown at 12 o’clock, the modular, hollowed and floating lugs (the brand’s patent dating back to 2006), and the light profile further streamlined by the watch’s extremely reduced thickness.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

All this is enhanced by the blue titanium of the case. The colour makes the watch stand out without mitigating its thickness. On the contrary, it enhances the feeling of elegance on the wrist, and provides a visual and tactile experience unlike anything else in the watchmaking world today. A world with much innovation but also with too many similar watches, in which the DB28XPS Kind Of Blue ostentatiously shouts its uniqueness.

PATENTS AND INNOVATIONS ON THE DB28XP KIND OF BLUE CALIBRE

This uniqueness is also featured on the movement. The manufacture calibre DB2115v12 is a manual calibre that can be wound and adjusted using the crown at 12 o’clock. The classic De Bethune balance wheel which, as mentioned above, is visible on the dial at 6 o’clock, is in titanium with white gold inserts. Thanks to a special patent filed by the brand in 2016, it is optimised to avoid suffering drops in performance caused by differences in temperature or possible air penetration. The escapement wheel, on the other hand, is made of silicon.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

Another patented component is the De Bethune spiral with a flat terminal curve. Designed to keep the centre of gravity in the central part of the calibre, it has a perfectly concentric development thanks to the blades’ different thicknesses. This makes it less high, meaning better concentricity and allowing the balance wheel to be adjusted with more accuracy. This has led to the incredible six-day autonomy mentioned above, some 20% more than that of a standard ultra-thin movement.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

In addition to this, two De Bethune innovations: the self-adjusting double barrel and a triple protection and shock-absorption system that safeguards the balance wheel perfectly, adding two shock-absorbers on each end to the balance shock absorber itself. The movement works at 28,800 vibrations per hour.

DE BETHUNE’S SPIRIT

The blued titanium is also found on the pin buckle complementing the blue alligator strap with contrasting stitching. Considering that, as we wrote, the DB28XPS Kind Of Blue is produced in a limited edition of 25 pieces, and given its unique features, the price of CHF 110,000 – tax excluded  – is perfectly in line with what one would expect from a De Bethune watch.

De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue
De Bethune DB28XP Kind of Blue

The first sentence of this article states that ‘blue expresses truth’. Well, in the case of the DB28XPS Kind Of Blue, the truth is that it is a mechanical work of art rather than a timepiece. The fact that it is blue only reinforces and enhances both the concept and the watch.

By Davide Passoni