In the world of watches there are many chronographs. Mostly with mechanical chronograph movements that were developed in the 1960’s or 1970’s. Just recently – now ETA stopped supplying movements to non Swatch Group brands – we see some newly developed chronograph calibers. But nothing comes close to the new chronograph movement that De Bethune has developed. Let’s take a closer look at the De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono with De Bethune’s Absolute Clutch System.
It’s of course not fair to compare an entry-level mechanical movement, like for instance the Longines caliber L788 with column-wheel and mono-pusher, with a retail price of well below € 4,000 Euro (making an excellent price/value proposition), with the new De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono that retails for CHF 166,000. The only comparison – in quality, finish and beauty – that we can think of, comes from Saxony, Germany, although that one is more classic in many ways and features a double rattrapante (in English: double split seconds) function. De Bethune’s offering is in many ways more contemporary, however also features many of the classic watchmaking feats that we love the brand for.
A magnificent three-dimensional mechanical landscape with gorgeous hand-finished bridges in stainless steel, featuring black polished surfaces. A movement like this one is a rarity and when you know more about the technical features, it only becomes more special. That is because:
- the chronograph’s second hand, 60-minute counter and 24-hours counter, all three are co-axially mounted centrally, together with the hour- and minute hand, and…
- because of De Bethune’s Absolute Clutch System that aims to improve the performance of chronographs by correcting the faults identified in current mechanisms like vertical and/or horizontal clutch systems
Calibre DB203 is equipped with De Bethune’s self-regulating twin barrel, which provides 5 days of autonomy when fully wound. The regulating organ is De Bethune’s patented silicon/white gold balance wheel, with a balance-spring with flat terminal curve. Another patent is its silicon escape wheel and De Bethune will also file for patent (application n° CH00076/14) for the chronograph mechanism.
De Bethune ‘Total Clutch System’ has the most of the advantages of both the horizontal and vertical clutch systems, while eliminating their faults. For instance the friction that the vertical clutch is known for will be seriously reduced and the minimal delay when starting a chronograph with horizontal coupling is also eliminated. This means a reduction in the friction both when the chronograph is running and without the chronograph being engaged.
De Bethune Total Clutch System
The absolute clutch operates in a system engaging the two traditional clutch methods to allow the different chronograph counters to function semi-autonomously:
- The chronograph seconds are governed by the new absolute clutch system
- The minutes counter is controlled by a shifting pinion
- The hours counter is engaged by a horizontal clutch
Three different types of clutches, behind three semi-independent systems, controlled by three column-wheels, govern the different chronograph elapsed-time counters.
The Maxichrono is the newest addition to the De Bethune collection, and features the recognizable round case with open-worked floating lugs on springs – a patented system that adapts them precisely to the shape of the wrist and its movements. Superb wearing-comfort are the result.
The DB29 Maxichrono come in two flavors: either a rose gold case with the black floating lugs (hand-polished, oxidized zirconium), or both the round case and the floating lugs in polish grade 5 titanium. The Maxichrono features the typical De Bethune skeleton hands in polished black oxidised steel. The applied black or blue (depending on the version) numerals in a modern typeface, their represent a juxtaposition with the classic Arabic numerals of the 60-minute counter around the dial.
- Case: 5N rose gold or grade 5 titanium, 45 mm in diameter and 11 mm in height, short or long floating lugs in mirror-polished blacked zirconium or polished grade 5 titanium, sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment, crown and monno-pusher at 12 o’clock
- Movement: Calibre DB2030, hand-wound, 36,000 vph (5Hz), 5 days power reserve, 47 jewels, 384 individual parts, De Bethune absolute clutch (patent applied), self-regulating twin barrel (patented), silicon/white gold balance wheel – balance-spring with flat terminal curve (patented), silicon escape wheel (patented), hand-crafted finishing and decoration and hand-polished steel bridges
- Functions: hours – minutes – mono-pusher chronograph with 24-hour, 60-minute and 60-second counters
- Strap: alligator leather strap with pin buckle
- Limited annual production: only twenty will be issued in 2014
- Price: CHF 166,000
More info: www.debethune.ch