De Bethune: DB28XP Meteorite – Forged Among The Stars24 March 2021
Meteorite dial watches are nothing new. Even a microbrand like D1 Milano has created one in recent years. What really makes a difference is the technical and aesthetic approach to the meteorite dial, whose rarity is complemented by the preciousness of the case, the movement, the strap, the details. Just like for the De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite.
A watch born, so to speak, from an obsession. The obsession that Denis Flageollet, founder of De Bethune, has for meteorites. Because in addition to being a master watchmaker, Flageollet also demonstrates the spirit of an alchemist which he nurtures by regularly trialling iron ore reduction processes with the aim to, one day, make his own metal. And we know how rich in iron minerals the meteorites fallen on Earth are.
Flageollet himself explains it when he says: “No other metal is as strongly charged with pure energy and emotion as the ferrous meteorites that have taken shape in the furnace of the star-studded heavens.”
DE BETHUNE AND THE METEORITES
It is not the first time that De Bethune has tried his hand at meteorites. In 2016, using a fragment that fell on Earth over 4,000 years ago – discovered in Argentina – he created the Dream Watch 5 Meteorite. The original anthracite color of the case made from this fragment was deliberately preserved, before being manually flame-blued to highlight the unique texture of the meteorite, streaked and dotted with fragments forming a snapshot of the universe.
In 2017 De Bethune presented the DB28 Kind of Blue Meteorite, whose extraordinary dial was made with a fragment of the same meteorite as the Dream Watch 5 Meteorite. Cut into a fine sliver to form the dial and manually flame-blued, the piece of meteorite was then polished and carved with a multitude of tiny holes inlaid with white gold spheres, depicting the stars of the galaxy. The DB28 Kind of Blue Meteorite’s case was entirely made of blue titanium and the dial displayed the De Bethune tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
THE UNIQUENESS OF THE MATERIAL
Now, for its new timepiece, De Bethune left the Argentine meteorite aside and focused on another stone, the so-called Muonionalusta meteorite, which fell close to the Muonio River, between Sweden and Finland. It is believed to have impacted the Earth over a million years ago. About forty fragments are known to date, the first of which was discovered in Sweden in 1906.
Composed mainly of iron and nickel, it is characterised by the perfectly geometrical lines of its 60° angle cross-hatched “Widmanstätten” pattern. These figures are “drawn” by long nickel-iron crystals, which are found abundantly in ferrous meteorites. Their name comes from that of Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten, the director of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in Vienna. He had noticed that flame heating iron meteorites, different areas of color and luster appeared and geometrically arranged lamellae were formed.
Considering the beauty and uniqueness of these features, Denis Flageollet wanted to use the Muonionalusta for the dial of the DB28XP Meteorite, adorning it with this ancestral stone forged in space, whose metal alloy endows the De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite with a distinctive texture.
A PERSONAL SKY
Examining the detail of the dial, it is its uniqueness derived from manufacture that makes this De Bethune watch an incredible piece. The secret lies in the mastery with which the brand masters the thermal oxidation of metals, which enables the watchmakers to raise the level of complexity by creating a starry sky accompanied by the Milky Way, on a previously blued meteorite dial. This blue hue comes from the heat released by the meteorite’s chemical reactions when heated.
The blue surface of the dial is studded with a multitude of small white gold dots, stars driven in between the different shapes and the different thicknesses of the octahedral geometric structures. In addition to wearing a unique fragment of space, each sky is potentially different: the customers can choose their own constellations, according to a precise map of the sky, set at a specific date, time and place, which the artisans of De Bethune will reproduce perfectly on the dial.
THE PROPERTIES OF THE ZIRCONIUM CASE
However, the processing of the dial must not overshadow the De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite as a whole, starting from the ultra-light case in polished black zirconium with a 43 mm diameter and 7.2 mm thickness – a metal whose hardness and stable oxidation, as well as the possibility of obtaining a deep black, make it extremely durable as well as aesthetically very beautiful.
The DB28XP Meteorite features the Manufacture’s distinctive graphic codes, with a zirconium hour circle, a minutes ring bearing Arabic numerals and the discreet De Bethune signature at 12 o’clock, complemented by pink gold hands identical to those of the DB28XP Starry Sky. The Microlight engraving design and the slenderness of the case are expressions of De Bethune’s watchmaking art, as the ultra-thin, classically inspired crown at 12 o’clock and the patented floating lugs.
THE MOVEMENT OF DE BETHUNE DB28XP METEORITE
But the beauty of the watch is also inside. The De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite is powered by the manual winding caliber DB2115v7 with 28,800 vibrations / hour, a silicon escape wheel and the De Bethune balance wheel which is visible through the 6 o’clock dial aperture.
The movement is the outcome of a physical and mathematical approach undertaken by De Bethune to improve its operation. It is equipped with technical advances such as an adjusted diameter, the use of titanium as well as small white gold weights placed around the rim – providing it with remarkable inertia, reliability and regulating properties.
De Bethune has also equipped the watch with its very own patented balance spring, whose gravity center is maintained at the very heart thanks to a flat curve affixed to the outside of the balance spring itself. The differences in the layer thickness further enhance the almost perfect precision of its concentric development.
Numerous advantages come from this: a reduced thickness, an improved adjustment of the concentricity, while the shape of the curve also acts as a shock absorber in case of impacts.
Is there more to say about a watch like this? Ah yes, this is a limited edition of only 10 numbered pieces. For the rest, you just have to try and wear the De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite, although it is not an easy task to find one. But isn’t it also difficult to find a meteorite while walking in the woods? (Price CHF 120.000)
By Davide Passoni