While the DB28X Starry Seas is ostensibly a classic De Bethune DB28 model, it marks a new chapter in the life of the flagship collection. Renowned for its floating lugs, delta-shaped bridge, crown at noon and futuristic spirit, the DB28 upholds its signature traits but has undergone a sea change. Impossible to discern from a photograph, the new time-only DB28XS has a reduced diameter of 39mm, making it the smallest case size in De Bethune’s portfolio, and flaunts a beautifully serene blue dial with a world-first random guilloché pattern designed to evoke a starry sea.
Evolutions of the DB28
The DB28 is De Bethune’s flagship model with its signature floating lugs, delta-shaped bridge, crown at noon and futuristic silhouette. Since its debut in 2010, the DB28 has adopted many personalities, appearing in openworked iterations like the Steel Wheels with tourbillon, in closed dial versions incarnated by the fascinating Digitale with jumping hours, in racing gear on board the John Player Special, in cosmic blue, in mellow yellow and, to fete its tenth anniversary in 2020, in ultra-thin XP cases.
Distilling the essence of the original DB28, the streamlined profiles of the DB28XP models – measuring 43mm with an average thickness of 7.2mm (excl. the tourbillon that is 8.1mm) – the XP concept has been applied to avant-garde and classical models with impressive results.
Small, slim and light
The DB28XS is not only the smallest model in De Bethune’s family but inherits the slimmer, more stylised profile of the DB28XP models. With its diameter of 38.7mm and thickness of 7.4mm, this petite newcomer is small and slim but also incredibly light, thanks to the polished titanium case. While extracting factual information from the overly lyrical press release is challenging, it does mention that Denis Flageollet had to invest a lot of time in miniaturising the patented floating lug system.
A Sea of Tranquility
Heat-blued titanium is the colour/metal we all associate with De Bethune, a mysterious tone of blue that evokes the cosmos or, in this case, the sea. Known as De Bethune blue, it was discovered quite by accident in the lab. Having selected titanium to produce his balance wheels, Denis Flageollet noticed that they were unstable and decided to stabilise them with the same heat-blued treatment used on steel. When fired at over 700 degrees Celsius, the titanium became stable and emitted an out-of-this-world colour to boot.
The dial, which also relies on a heat-blued titanium base, is decorated with the world’s first random guilloché pattern invented by De Bethune. Whether this means that De Bethune invented a random guilloché pattern or whether it is the fact that De Bethune has applied a random guiloché pattern to a blued titanium base needs clarifying, but what transcends is a dial of extreme beauty. Traversed with a series of horizontal wavy ribbons producing an undulating effect, the dial is also decorated with a sprinkling of white gold dots to insinuate the reflection of stars in the water.
A silver-plated rounded chapter ring bearing transferred Arabic numerals for hours and a blue dotted minute track frames the wavy dial. Time is indicated by two custom-made and hand-polished titanium openworked hands.
Another key personality trait of the DB28 can be admired through the sapphire window on the caseback. Occupying most of the space is De Bethune’s signature delta bridge, a gleaming rounded mirror-polished arrow-shaped structure that looks like the Starfleet Commando logo in Star Trek. Ticking at 28,800 vibrations per hour, the hand-wound calibre DB2005 boasts six days of power reserve when fully wound. Its patented balance wheel is made of titanium with white gold inserts and is fitted with a patented balance spring with a flat terminal curve. The escapement wheel is made of silicon to ensure the movement is not affected by magnetic fields. In keeping with Flageollet’s deep respect for traditional watchmaking, the high-level finishings are executed exclusively by hand.
The watch comes on a supple dark blue alligator leather strap with light blue top stitching and a titanium pin buckle.
Availability & Price
There is no mention of the availability or production numbers of the DB28XS Starry Seas in the press release, but we do know that it retails for CHF 77,000 (excl. tax). For more information, please consult www.debethune.ch.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.