Vintage styling is one of the current aesthetic trends from big-name watchmakers. Omega, Breitling, Rolex — you name it, they’re all doing it. We’re not necessarily complaining about the trend, because frankly, we love vintage watches. But at some point, enough is enough; progress must be made. Luckily, there’s a handful of boutique watchmakers not only testing avant-garde design, but combining it with haute horlogerie.
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De Bethune is one of the watchmakers at the forefront of this progressive movement. Founded in Geneva just 11 years ago, De Bethune has set off on a course into uncharted territory using expert pedigrees in science, art and watchmaking. In just over a decade, they’ve developed 13 calibers, attained a handful of patents and won Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix’s most prestigious award, the Aiguille d’Or (Golden Hand).
The award-winning De Bethune DB28 has seen over a dozen variations added to its family tree — and this year at Basel, the DB28 Digitale (~$107,832) will be yet another. It’s essentially the ultimate combination of minimalist appearance and jam-packed innovation. The highly polished center-mounted sphere acting as a moonphase indicator immediately grabs the eye; the half palladium, half blued steel ball is surrounded by a beautifully hand-engraved dial. Yes. That dial was engraved. By hand.
The hour and minute indicators — a jump hour window above the moonphase and a rotating minute disc that can be viewed from the standard 9:00 to 3:00 positions — are relatively intuitive. Above the minute disc is a non-functional insert, which is representative of a star-studded sky.
Turning the watch over provides an equally stunning viewpoint and a continued theme of minimalist elegance. Twin-barrels, silicon balance and escape wheels, a flat end curve balance spring and an innovative shock-absorption system — all of which are patented — are the main performance drivers of the cutting-edge caliber DB2144.
Calling this timepiece bold is akin to calling the Alps an impressive pile of rocks. In fact, there may not be a single word that can adequately describe the Digitale. To fully appreciate the DB28 Digitale as a whole, it’s best to understand the details, which is why we break down its impressive qualities above.