Denis Flageollet’s Dream Watch is surely one of the most intrepid watch designs on Earth. Closer to a miniature sculpture than a watch, it is easy to envision this beautiful futuristic vessel silently probing the confines of our galaxy. Originally presented in a gleaming cambered titanium case in 2014, De Bethune’s Dream Watch has also become a canvas for some of the most extravagant artistic collaborations. The latest DW5 Empreinte, a stunning collaboration piece between Denis Flageollet, designer Clara Martin and the skilled hand of engraver Michèle Rothen, glides into the brand’s exclusive Maestri’Art collection.
The Dream Watch, with its aerodynamic deltoid-shaped profile, is fit for the most adventurous creative voyages. Landing on the horological scene in 2014, the miniature spaceship (length 58mm x width 47mm) reveals the jumping hours, dragging analogue minutes and a rotating spherical moon phase indicator in a porthole on the case. The latest DW5 Empreinte is the third Dream Watch to join De Bethune’s exclusive Maestri’Art collection, where artists are invited to collaborate on unique pieces. To date we have seen the DW5 Armilia reproducing the fantastic cityscapes of artist François Schuiten and the flamboyant DW5 Cempasúchil with Mexican Día de los Muertos images engraved on the case by Michèle Rothen.
Light in the Dark
Clara Martin’s collaboration with De Bethune revolves around the concept of ‘empreinte’ or imprint and its different semantic ramifications. Without going into each of the five interpretations of her conceptual approach, suffice it to say that Clara Martin won the first De Bethune/ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne) prize in 2019. Aimed to encourage graduate’s research work, Clara Martin’s final project, “The Authority of Black”, attracted Denis Flageollet’s attention and led to this collaboration.
As the title of her thesis suggests, the colour black is the protagonist of the latest DW5 Maestri’Art model. Inspired by the work of French painter Pierre Soulages, who is fascinated with the properties of the colour black and the way light is reflected on black surfaces, Clara Martin’s mission is “to change the current perception and connotations of the colour black”. Her graphic experiments with textures and shapes prove that black is more than a colour and far “more powerful and sensitive than we think”.
Denis Flageollet’s longstanding mastery of bluing titanium encouraged him to explore a new oxidation process to coax black and blue shades out of the metal. A world-first, Flageollet achieved the unique blue and black mottled patterns on the titanium vessel by combining the science of vacuum deposition on metal oxides with his innate mastery of fire.
Engraver Michèle Rothen
Once again, Flageollet enlisted engraver Michèle Rothen to participate in the latest Dream Watch inviting her to transform the cold hard properties of titanium into something “tender and sensitive”. Engraving titanium, which is harder than steel, was an arduous task, but Rothen has managed to modify the surface with a fascinating pattern. Combined with the black and blue titanium, in certain lights, the surface of DW5 Empreinte might remind you of the iridescent feathers of a hummingbird.
The watch is powered by the hand-wound calibre DB2144V2 incorporating several of the brand’s innovations. It boasts a five-day power reserve supplied by a self-regulating twin barrel. The regulator incorporates a silicon balance, a De Bethune balance spring and a silicon escape wheel. The precision moon phase mechanism is accurate to one lunar day every 1,112 years.
This unique DW5 Empreinte piece is fitted with a supple leather strap and a pin buckle in brushed grade 5 titanium. Price on request. More information available at www.debethune.ch.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.