Monochrome Watches
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The Hypnotic De Bethune DB28XS Purple Rain

Colour alchemy is at work again as De Bethune turns up the heat on titanium to produce a spectacular new purple colour flying on board the DB28XS.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 4 min read |

Denis Flageollet, the founder of De Bethune, is renowned as a master watchmaker who has steered his reverence for ancestral horological craftsmanship into radically contemporary settings. Perhaps his credentials should also include ‘master alchemist’ because when Flageollet starts playing with fire in his workshop (which includes a blacksmith), the results are out-of-this-world spectacular. The latest colour to emerge from his workshop in L’Auberson is an entrancing tone of purple. Christened Purple Rain, like Prince’s iconic song, the vessel selected to fly the new colour is the DB28XS, one of De Bethune’s most iconic models but in a smaller 39mm case size.

Denis Flageollet at work in his blacksmith

Master Alchemist

While the technique of altering the surface of a metal through heating is centuries old and is usually reserved for steel and iron, Flageollet discovered that titanium could also be blued. Known as thermal oxidation, not only does the flame coax out some of the most psychedelic natural colours, but it also deposits a long-lasting protective film on the surface. The first alchemical transformation occurred when Flageollet wanted to stabilise a titanium balance wheel and experimented with the same heat-blue treatment used on steel. Fired at over 700ºC, the titanium stabilised and oxidised to produce the intense blue colour that has become a signature of De Bethune’s creations.

Iridescent Purple

To say that the case and dial are purple would be short-selling this unprecedented colour, which displays an almost iridescent spectrum of purples depending on the light, angle and surface. Some areas of the watch emanate a violet metallic colour, while others produce plum, aubergine, mauve, lavender, amethyst, red – you name it – reflections. While blued titanium is De Bethune’s flagship colour, evoking all things celestial and infinite, purple is warmer, richer, and associated with royalty.

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De Bethune’s DB28XS is the smallest model in the brand’s repertoire and joined the collection in 2023. Distilling the main elements of the iconic DB28 with its floating lugs, delta-shaped bridge, crown at noon and futuristic silhouette, the DB28xs has a more compact 38.7mm diameter coupled with an ultra-slim case height of 7.4mm. Exceptionally lightweight, just about everything on the DB28XS is made from grade 5 titanium, starting with the mirror-polished case and floating lugs. One of the most challenging aspects of creating the DB28XS was miniaturising the brand’s famous, patented floating lugs.

The dial is no less spectacular and reveals a wonderful wavy surface referred to as a ‘random guilloché pattern’ invented by De Bethune. Traversed by a series of undulating purple waves, the titanium dial comes alive with motion, texture and reliefs. The different-sized dots you can see on the dial are hand-applied spherical gold pins to recreate the reflection of stars in a purple sea or bubbles – take your pick. A raised, rounded, purple titanium chapter ring frames the scenery and hosts the transferred silvery Arabic hour numerals. Time is read with the custom-made and hand-polished openworked titanium hour and minute hands. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the minutes hand has a slightly curved tip to negotiate the contours of the rounded chapter ring.

manual-winding calibre

The purple titanium satin-finished ring framing the caseback reveals the hallmark delta bridge and parts of De Bethune’s manual-winding calibre DB2005. Crafted in gleaming mirror-polished titanium, the delta bridge features a purple titanium bar running down its spine and a rounded mirror-polished bridge over the balance wheel. Beneath the delta bridge is another purple titanium plate decorated with the brand’s characteristic microlight pattern in a series of concentric grooves emanating from the aperture for the balance wheel.

The self-regulating twin barrels, delivering a 6-day power reserve, are semi-hidden by the delta bridge. Harking back to Flageollet’s first experiment with blued titanium, the patented balance is made of blued titanium with white gold inserts and beats at 4Hz. Other De Bethune innovations, like the balance spring with a flat terminal curve and the triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system, are also featured inside the movement. As is customary at De Bethine, the movement features handcrafted finishings and decorations.

The De Bethune DB28XS Purple Rain comes with an extra-supple alligator leather strap and a black canvas strap with a purple grade 5 titanium buckle.

Availability & Price

The De Bethune DB28XS Purple Rain is a limited edition of 25 pieces. We will confirm the price as soon as the brand responds, but expect something around CHF 90,000 or USD 99,000. For more information, please consult

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