De Bethune’s latest creation takes inspiration from our very own galaxy
We often talk about the métiers d’art that go into the making of a timepiece, be it enameling, engraving, the list can go on. However, there is a little detail that collectors notice, but few truly understand: blued metal. Whether it’s the blued screws that are visible on a movement, or the blued steel hands that are occasionally used, it’s definitely a detail that draws the attention. It’s not only an aesthetic application though, for bluing also improves corrosion resistance. However, it’s a delicate process to get “just right,” particularly if you’re trying to get a specific shade of blue on various parts.
De Bethune, on the other hand, doesn’t shy away from this and has practically made it its signature treatment. The most striking is when De Bethune gives the blue treatment to large surfaces; in this instance, for the new DB25L Milky Way, it’s the dial. In blued and highly polished titanium, it’s bound to draw the eye, and is a natural backdrop for the depiction of our galaxy against a night sky, a sight that is all seldom seen for city dwellers. You would need to travel far from any light pollution to realistically be able to see for yourself how packed with stars the sky can truly be – but I digress. For the DB25L Milky Way, De Bethune individually sets small white gold spheres by hand onto the mirror finished titanium dial as hour markers, while gold flakes are gilded onto micro laser abrasions to depict the Milky Way as occasionally visible from Earth. It almost makes another of De Bethune’s signature features, the spherical moonphase, disappear into the background, but it’s definitely there on the upper half of the dial; the moon itself is comprised of two half spheres, one blued steel and the other polished palladium. Its rotation is particularly precise, deviating by one lunar day only every 122 years. In contrast, the hands are highly visible as they are in polished rose gold. The case is in platinum, and is set with some 66 baguette-cut diamonds. The hollowed out lugs ensure that the weight of the watch and its 44.6mm diameter remain very comfortable on the wrist.
That’s not to say that the DB25L Milky Way is an aesthetic exercise only; turn the watch over and you’ll see the manually wound caliber with an impressive 6-day power reserve, a silicon annular balance built within a white gold ring. Along with the flat terminal curve balance spring and the triple pare-chute shock absorber, these parts are all covered by De Bethune patents. Here too, De Bethune stands out with its Star Trek-inspired design for the movement, which also shows a discrete power reserve indicator on the periphery, and has a mirrorpolish finish that is – you guessed it – very difficult to achieve as there is absolutely no margin for error during the production and assembly of the components. We can certainly look to De Bethune for an indication of what the future of haute horology can bring. Until then, we can have the DB25L Milky Way gives as a glimpse into the starry sky at any time, day or night.