One watch, two identities
We’ve all come across or even own watches with two, three or multiple time zones. Most indicating the same within a singular dial, while others feature the same with two dials. Speaking of two dials historically, the best-known being the Leroy 01 by Louis Leroy – presented in 1900 and winner of the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair – which long remained the most complicated watch ever created. A lot many brands and makers have successfully produced two-dial watches, which apparently seem elementary but are way more complex than they seem. However, when L’Auberson based Manufacture De Bethune does the same, they clearly don’t take the easiest route in doing so. We guess that’s the De Bethune way.
While the list of patents to their credit exceed the models that they produce, the idea for a double-sided watch had been toying in Denis Flageollet’s mind for quite a few many years. The calibre DB2579, which is housed within this watch; christened as “ De Bethune DB Kind of Two Tourbillon”, is a highly sophisticated mechanism based on a complex system of gears and pinions arranged on the front and back of the watch, enabling the wearer to turn the hands in the right direction, regardless of the chosen dial.
The watch has a very unique perspective, a dual identity; almost like a Harvey – Two Face. We sure would like to run with this bad boy. The contemporary front side of the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon has a very futuristic aesthetic with presumably a hint of a secret iconography. On a lighter note, maybe it’s just us, nursed on a diet of too many Sci-Fi movies but when we see a circle being housed within a Reuleaux triangle, our mind goes into an overdrive. Extensive work has been done on integrating polished, curved shapes, matt or glossy components, different thicknesses and levels, thereby creating a sensation of ample space and optimal volume, given the minimum height available for a tourbillon watch. We could just spend an hour putting the De Bethune 30” tourbillon under a 5x loupe. The titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts, optimised for temperature and air penetration, the balance-spring with a flat terminal curve, the silicon escape wheel, all of which are housed within an ultra-light titanium. The 5 Hz frequency of this 30mm diameter hand-wound calibre is powered by a self-regulating twin barrel. Yes, the German’s from Dresden do deserve credit and have our respect but when it comes to superlative finishing, but over the years we’ve had many a Swiss-manufacturers hold De Bethune’s finishing in highest regard. No better an endorsement of your craft than being acknowledged by your peers. The mirror-polished motion works bridge and concave cover plate in grade 5 titanium, polished and chamfered barrel bridge, with shot-blasted stages, polished and chamfered titanium minute bridge with microlight decoration, hand nailed barrels and steel parts polished and chamfered by hand.
It’s not just the movement where the buck stops. The De Bethune DB29’s case middle is a key element in the pivoting case project developed by De Bethune. Its perfectly symmetrical shape offers a beautiful balance with the floating lugs and its elegant crown totally integrated at 12 o’clock (or 6 o’clock depending on the side chosen). It thus swivels naturally, and the circumference principle is patently obvious, offering a true understanding of the object. De Bethune’s work on the polished grade 5 titanium is peerless. Redesigned for the occasion, these elements have been equipped on each side with an ingenious little rotating mechanism made up of 28 components. For reliability purposes, they are manufactured in stainless materials such as surgical steel or titanium, thus enabling them to withstand the external aggressions of water, humidity, temperature variations and continuous contact with the skin.
Thanks to a cam, a small “notch” allows the 42.8mm watch case to be instinctively and perfectly positioned in line with the floating lugs. The round case rotates on its central axis and can be positioned, front or back, in a delightfully easy, smooth and entirely natural way.
The other side reveals a dial based on more traditional aesthetic inspiration, with a finely hand-guilloché central part surrounded by the numerals already featured on the dials of De Bethune models such as the De Bethune DB8 and De Bethune DB10. The tourbillon with its seconds has vanished, and on this face the hours, minutes and more surprisingly the seconds hands are all centrally positioned. This represents an extremely subtle technical challenge that is not necessarily perceptible at first glance, and therein lies the elegance of this timepiece.
Subtle or ostentatious, purist or liberal, you can’t ignore the De Bethune DB Kind of Two Tourbillon. So, while you pick a side, we still have to get over the ocean depth colour of the hand-polished ‘blued’ titanium hands. The more we look at them, the Bollywood junkie in me starts humming… “Aaja Doob Jau Teri Aankhon Ke Osan mein, Slow Motion Mein”