The Collector’s Series – Mr. WhatMakesMeTick and his De Bethune DB28
This is not the first time Mister WhatMakesMeTick (some might recognize this pseudonym) has featured on the Collector Series… We also covered his glorious Vianney Halter Trio. It is fair to say this instalment shares one thing in common with the first, both watches come from the esoteric world of independent haute-horlogerie. It is time to dive into the weird and wonderful world of De Bethune. Anyone who knows the brand can spot a De Bethune from across the room. Their distinctive styling and host of signature elements make them one of the most recognizable names in watch world. Their hollowed lugs have slowly become somewhat iconic. This was my first time talking to a DB owner and I hope you enjoy the exchange as much as I did.
De Bethune are a fascinating independent, can you tell us more about their history and what they are attempting to do?
De Bethune was created in 2002 by David Zanetta and Denis Flaggeolet. Zanetta is a seasoned collector of vintage pocket and wrist-watches whereas Flaggeolet is most probably one of the greatest living watchmakers today. He was behind THA in the 80s, along with F.P. Journe and Vianney Halter making the Sympathique clocks for Breguet and other incredible movements. What is great about these two men is that they have held and worked on some of the most amazing and important horological masterpieces ever created which has honed their horological culture.
However, what they have managed to do with De Bethune – and this seems to be their founding philosophy – is to create a perfect example of 21st century haute-horlogerie. They don’t make pieces directly inspired from the past but they asked themselves what would avant-garde thinkers such as Breguet or Berthoud be making were they alive today and that’s what they did.
When did De Bethune come onto your radar?
It was Baselworld 2002 or 2003 and they were in an exhibition hall off the main area. During these fairs we always ask 2 questions when we bump into someone we know “when did you arrive?” and “what have you seen?”. To the last question almost unanimously I got the answer “De Bethune”. I went to see them but I was not under as much awe as my friends. Very interesting watches but with rather classic looks. However, they already had their cases with the bullet lugs which I love and you can find in the DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon.
I continued following them and little by little they became an internet phenomenon, coming out with ultra futuristic escapement technology and more and more audacious designs.
When did you come to own the DB28?
You know I can’t really date it. Must have been around 2012 or 2013
Why the DB28 from a mesmerizing range on offer from De Bethune?
I can’t really remember when I first saw the DB 8 but for the past 10 years I had seriously wanted a De Bethune and the DB28 is exactly what one would want from DB: audacious design, an amazing movement, finish unheard of in this segment and the possibility to customize as there was a choice of different movement treatments, outer ring colours etc…
Many regard the finishing at De Bethune to some of the best in the watch world, as an owner can you confirm this to be the case?
I have had the pleasure of owning or at least getting pretty close to some pieces with the most amazing finish ranging from Dufour, Voutilainen, Ferrier or Smith, Grebel Forsey or the amazing Pateks and Vacherons from the 40s-50s and what DB does is nothing short of incredible. In terms of finishing it is the best for a brand making the amounts they make.
Aesthetically, what stood out for you?
The watch as a whole has great equilibrium, the floating lugs, the movement architecture and the 3 dimensional moon are definitely striking.
Its a stunning piece of craftsmanship, does it evoke many questions/comments?
I only get positive comments, other than from Mrs WhatMakesMeTick who is way too classical in her tastes. Even when I meet people from the watch industry they always ask me to take the DB28 off so they can take a closer look.
What powers the watch?
It’s the in-house calibre DB 2115 manual wind with 6-day power reserve. It features a silicon/white gold balance – balance-spring with DB’s proprietary terminal curve, triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system and a silicon escape wheel.
How does the DB28 fit into your lifestyle?
It’s a very versatile watch so it fits all occasions. On summer I add a denim strap which funks it up even more.
What do you think the DB28 say’s about you when people see it on the wrist?
I don’t know, you should ask your readers (haha).
Does it get much wrist time?
A lot! I sometimes have to force myself to switch to another watch!
What is your favourite feature of the watch?
The fact that the dial is actually the movement and the moon phase: like no other! What ONE emotion springs to mind when you strap on your DB28? Desire.
Did you ever have any doubts over investing in a relative new-comer to the watch-market?
None! For me De Bethune is one of if not the greatest watch brand of the 21st century.
De Bethune are at the very forefront of pushing watchmaking boundaries, what, in your mind is next for the brand?
That’s a good question, I have no idea as they always surprise. We know them as a technical brand then they present some amazingly artistic watches like the DB25 Quetzalcoatl with the hand engraved dial representing a feathered serpent. However, considering their technical know how a movement which would never need lubrication or servicing wouldn’t surprise me.
Does the DB28 has the pedigree to become an icon of the future do you think?
I think it already is an icon.
What three words would you use to describe your DB28?
Sleek, powerful, incomparable.