While the DB28 is an emblematic De Bethune watch, this new version is all the more remarkable for the particular meaning it enshrines. Featuring a significantly smaller diameter than previous models (39 mm), while retaining De Bethune’s unique and characteristic design, the DB28xs Starry Seas is a miniature miracle—in terms of the technology required to complete the project, but above all because of De Bethune’s virtuosity in transposing the spirit of the Enlightenment into the world of 21st-century wristwatches, by reformulating exceptional fine craftsmanship and offering an unprecedented aesthetic creation.
There is no question of identically reproducing the past, but rather of engaging in a quest to stir new emotions when faced with exceptional objects. The intentions of Denis Flageollet, Master Watchmaker and Founder of de Bethune are pure: he looks at tradition from an innovative standpoint and works to make the contemporary mechanical watch a wrist-worn cultural embodiment of time measurement.
While the DB28xs Starry Seas was born of an extraordinary acrobatic feat that involved bringing the majestic sense of grandeur conveyed by the great Age of Enlightenment clocks with their scientific instruments to the wrist, its fascinating micro-mechanics along with refined aesthetics of a small watch also offer a glimpse into the deepest recesses of the creative mind behind it.
Beneath the deceptively simple appearance of mere miniaturisation, the singular nature of this watch and its design extends far beyond its smaller size and its mode of operation. A veritable life philosophy in Japan, Wabi-Sabi blends two aesthetic and spiritual principles historically very present in the national culture. Referring to the fullness experienced when contemplating nature, the expression wabi means solitude and simplicity, with a touch of melancholy.
Sabi, which is more concerned with the traces of past time, refers to the sensation felt when perceiving the work of time or of man on something. Inspired by the Wabi-Sabi concept, Denis Flageollet nurtures an appreciation for a quiet life away from urban hustle and bustle along with a sense of tranquillity, contemplation of something that becomes beautiful as it ages.
For the geniuses of the Age of Enlightenment, their aim was to create scientific instruments whose beauty emanated from their function, their mechanical sobriety and their simplicity. Powerful figures than transformed them into veritable objets d’art, calling on the best artisans of their time, including cabinetmakers, bronze makers and enamellists such as Boulle, Caffieri and Coteau.
The success of the DB28xs Starry Seas demonstrates that Denis Flageollet’s teams are totally imbued with the De Bethune spirit stemming from this culture. The concept of perpetual evolution informs their work and hence their constant questioning of existing techniques, relying on the mastery of both ancestral expertise and new technologies. This incessant movement is the keystone of the Manufacture, which constantly cultivates this state of mind.
Calibre DB2005 has been adapted to this miniaturisation without losing its chronometric quality. Better still, the increased lightness of the watch endows it with better efficiency in case of impacts and acceleration. Aesthetically speaking, while the colour blue was not chosen solely for its visual attributes, on the one hand, its symbolic reference to skies and seas as well as to its entire universe of wisdom and serenity echoes the WabiSabi concept that guided its creation; and on the other hand, its presence among De Bethune mechanisms has genuine technical legitimacy.
It was in fact during an initial attempt to resolve technical problems of stability and chronometry when developing the new De Bethune balances that Denis Flageollet created a new, unprecedented oscillator, combining the soft white metallic shade of palladium with the vibrant blue of titanium.
Since then, the inherently natural blue colour has become one of the brand’s signatures, as its shimmering reflections on different materials and their finishes enables an infinite and refined play on nuances. The overarching purpose is to continue the work of the great 18th-century master horologists in their quest for perfect timekeeping coupled with an absolute sense of aesthetics.
Using the most modern scientific and technological discoveries, the endeavours of the De Bethune teams converge to invent unique, innovative and high-performance solutions. The principle has remained the same for more than 20 years: creating timepieces respecting watchmaking traditions while incorporating the mechanical, technical and aesthetic innovations of our time.