Angus Davies reviews the De Bethune DB27 Titan Hawk, a watch which has unusual floating lugs which accord an exceptionally comfortable fit.
De Bethune are a relatively new company in watchmaking compared with some of the brands I have written about.
This year it celebrates its tenth anniversary. However, the company has already proven it has incredible expertise, embracing traditional haute horology with a refreshing avant-garde perspective.
David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet founded the company and share a wealth of horological experience between them.
De Bethune’s paradigm
A description of De Bethune’s paradigm would encompass words and phrases such as; “cutting edge”, “innovative”, “technological” but equally it would include terms familiar with other exponents of haute horology; “artisan”, “know-how” and “excellence”.
David and Denis understand fine timepieces, the complications and the beauty of a finely finished movement. Denis has spent many years restoring some of the world’s finest timepieces and David has become an authority on watches since studying horology in the 1960s.
Despite its founders empathy with exceptional timepieces of yesteryear, De Bethune has chosen a strategy of innovation. They have sought a new perspective and pursued alternative answers to horological questions.
In the last 10 years they have acquired nine patents and developed 11 calibres. No complication has been too complex, with tourbillons being the ultimate expression of their technical prowess.
Innovation and aesthetics
Innovation has included the extensive use of new materials including silicon for balance wheels and grade 5 titanium for watch cases.
Mechanical superiority has not led to the abandonment of aesthetics. On the contrary, a De Bethune watch is worthy of display on the wall of the Louvre adjacent fine works of art. The watches are beautiful studies in shape, colour and texture which are combined in pleasing harmony.
The pursuit of perfection without compromise inevitably leads to a high price point but then the finer things in life invariably do.
A new model
The DB27 Titan Hawk, recently launched at Baselworld 2012, is the “entry-level” watch from De Bethune.
The curious soubriquet, Titan Hawk, captured my interest. A name which elicits intrigue, I wanted to know more, my inquiring mind stimulated.
A titan hawk was a large bird of prey, sadly extinct, with a huge wingspan. A feature of its physique was its talons with matchless grip.
De Bethune have used the Titan Hawk name to describe the floating lugs of the watch. This is a patented system, employing springs which dynamically adapt to the shape of the wearer’s wrist. It imparts great comfort to the owner thanks to its remarkable flexibility.
The dial is delivered in spherical form, harnessing details in circular rings and presented in a silver-toned tincture.
The inner dial, is finely detailed with concentric circles capturing light and contrasting with the blued central date indicator. A row of dates, presented on a smooth circlet, are delivered in Arabic numerals with a contemporary font.
The next ring repeats the motif of the inner dial, the brands nomenclature at 12 o’clock. This provides visual punctuation between the inner dial and the outer dial.
The chapter ring features hours, expressed in Roman numerals. The minute circle utilises Roman numerals, presented in an avant-garde typeface, marked off in integers of five, with three square boxes representing the minutes in between.
The blued hour and minute hands are skeletonized and perfectly align with the relative numerals on the chapter ring. The attention to detail is sublime.
The shape of the case is unusual. The upper part of the case is spherical in profile, encircling the dial, but it rests on the floating lugs which appear tonneau shaped when viewed on the wrist.
Close examination of the case from the side, shows the watch’s floating lugs pivot in the centre of the watch case, the fulcrum running along the axis from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock.
The crown resides at noon, making room for the complex pivoting system.
Constructed from grade 5 titanium, the case has a wonderful mirror-like finish, affording the watch a diamond like brilliance.
The back features a small window affording a view of the balance wheel. De Bethune titillates the wearer with the limited view of the movement within. I wish to see above the hemline. I know that hidden from my view there is peerless finishing to stimulate my retinas. Maybe this is De Bethune flirting with my horological fetishes, leaving me craving the unattainable.
The Calibre S233 is a manufacture movement.
The mainplate is hand decorated and snailed, hand-chamfered with polished steel parts.
The patented, self regulating twin barrels are designed to reduce friction, affording the watch a power reserve of six days.
The patented balance wheel is an incredibly light mixture of silicon and white gold, mitigating friction and delivering an ideal inertia / mass ratio.
De Bethune has patented its own triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system offering robust protection for the connoisseur’s calibre.
Perfection has been pursued and expertly delivered with this wonderful in-house movement.
Like many middle aged men, the sight of a statuesque beauty, has often caught my gaze and so it is for fine wristwatches.
Having collected wristwatches all my adult life, my love of haute horology has never diminished with the passage of time.
The choice of Titan Hawk as a name, may cause a fearful feeling that the watch would clasp the wrist with a tenacious, menacing grip. This would be incorrect as the watch affectionately embraces the wrist, imparting comfort and tenderness.
Sadly, I cannot afford a De Bethune timepiece, it is just beyond my financial grasp.
I have succumbed to its lithe lines, its elegant form, yet I know she is unattainable, just like the raven haired nymph who has just caught my gaze in the last few minutes.
If you are in the fortunate position to afford this watch, seize the moment. Life is for living, this watch is not only beautiful, she also has a great mind.
Model: De Bethune DB27 Titan Hawk
Case: Mirro-polished grade 5 titanium; diameter 43.00 mm; height 12.00 mm; sapphire crystal to front and sapphire window on caseback revealing the balance wheel.
Functions: Hours; minuntes; date.
Movement: Calibre S233; self-winding; Frequency 28,800 vph; 34 jewels; Power reserve 6 days.
Strap: Extra-supple alligator leather with pin buckle