De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

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  1. #1
    Watchuseek Editor JMunchow's Avatar
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    De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    Just imagine, looking out your window in the morning and seeing the red sands stretch to the horizon as far as you can see, the sun illuminating the future. You hear the faint hum of the capsule and you know it’s a good morning. Your journey started long ago, back in a world that held hope for discovery and a passion for adventure. You were chosen, along with very special companions, to change the course of history and strike out for the unknown. This is your life now and you love every minute of it. Being on the edge of a scientific smorgasbord every day has made you feel more alive than you ever could have comprehended! You are a national hero too, a hero to the whole world, and all you had to do was answer the call to go. Imagine all those people back home that are hearing about your discoveries, and their lives are changing as a result of your efforts; the efforts of you and your team, the team of Mars One.



    Mars One is an incredibly optimistic plan and mission currently underway to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2023, with the selections of the first training crew already taking place. The world has been called to apply, and they have answered. Over 165,000 people have applied, from 140 countries, and applications are still coming in. It seems like a lot of people want to go to Mars! Still being 10 years out I can have no real prediction as to the outcome of this mission, but I do have some thoughts. It is amazing that people, not just governments, are actively seeking to get to Mars, and even more amazing that many private aerospace companies including SpaceX have expressed serious interest in being a part of this journey. We really may be on our way to the final frontier. But something is missing to me. They need an official timepiece, something that exemplifies the design and groundbreaking spirit of a mission to the red planet. If I were to make a suggestion I would recommend a line from DeBethune, the DB28!

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    Now the Mars One mission has one big caveat, it is a one way trip. Anyone selected and sent will be moving to Mars permanently. Yikes. No return trip is planned and if anything goes wrong there wouldn’t even be a rescue mission plan either. You might just be the first person to have their eulogy said on Mars. A little morbid to think of it that way, but it’s just par for the course with space travel! I think I will refrain from applying but I still hold that someone on the trip should represent the frontier spirit with a great timepiece and I think the DB28 line from DeBethune is absolutely perfect.

    I don’t want to assume that there is any connection, but one thing jumps out in my mind to prove the DB28 has the soul of a starship. Take a look at these two images:

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    Now if that doesn’t prove it to you, I don’t know what will. I have to imagine that it was made for the missions in the future and has somehow time traveled to the past! Ok, as all good geeks know, that mere fact could have caused a temporal shift which has the ability to change history and the future. Hmmm, I’ll take that risk, because the DB28 collection is amazing!

    I have to say that my love of these pieces comes from a love of beautiful architecture and beautiful mechanisms. When I first heard of DeBethune, I knew I had found something special. Their use of line and curve with respect to case design, movement architecture, and dial layout is spectacular. They create movement that keeps your mind busy and intrigued with the graceful shapes that evoke exploration as much as innovation. Adventure, whether it be going across the land, sea, sky, or space is never rooted in classicism; it is rooted in modernism and pushing for the future. Not one explorer wanted to find out what was around the bend because they were enamored with tradition. No, explorers are a specific breed of human that craves the new and yearns for the cutting edge.

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    DeBethune embodies this idea to me. Their work incorporates style and materials that are the future of watchmaking, Titanium, Silicon, and the visual identity makes you sure you have a piece of a starship on your wrist. The architecture of the movements, the bridges for the escapements, the style of the hands, the movements of the articulated lugs, all of these create a sense of the future and a sense of the final frontier. The DB28 collection has many variations, with materials and functions, but they all share the same DNA that makes them one of my favorite watches of all time.

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    The DB28 collection has what I would say as 4 main versions and within those versions exist multiple variations in materials, finishes, and feelings. Starting with the original DB28, it features a distinctive dial with the top plate creating a majority of the visual interest, and harkening back to a beloved TV series from the mid 20th century. It features a solid Silicon and white gold balance wheel, a beautiful spherical moonphase indication, power reserve indicator on the rear of the movement, and a performance indicator between 2 and 3 o’clock. (I have yet to hear exactly what that indicates) Interestingly, and to my extreme pleasure, the balance bridge is not directly attached to the top plate but instead mounted on jewels and held in place by two sprung arms mounted to the top plate.

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    One of my absolute favorite features of the DB28 collection is the articulated lugs. Sprung from the center of the case and available in short or long versions, they make this watch hug your wrist like an environmentalist to a giant redwood. They are painfully beautiful too! They are skeletonized in two directions and hinged with a spring for a perfectly variable fit depending on your wrist size. I had the incredible luck to be able to strap a few models on my wrist at Baselworld and it felt like it was made for me. The entire case and lugs are made from Titanium so it almost disappeared while wearing it.

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    Moving on we have the second variation, the DB28T, which as you may have guessed by the T in the name incorporates a tourbillon. Owing to the specific architecture to hold a tourbillon, the dial is slightly different adding a rigidly mounted tourbillon bridge and a cleaner top plate. Also changed is the finish of the top plate which creates an even sleeker starship feeling and interest to the dial. Still there are the awesome lugs, the incredible case, the power reserve on the rear, and the feeling of flying through the cosmos.

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    Next up we have the DB23ST, also with a tourbillon, but this time with an awesome added complication, a dead-beat seconds! Adding this feature called for a change in the dial, to take advantage of that seconds indication a chapter ring with 60 markers and Arabic and Roman numerals. The ring has the famous DeBethune curved and sloping shape that made the DB27 collection so sexy. Also, the power reserve is now moved to the front at 6 o’clock. The change that may get missed by many with the now busier dial is how the top plate and architecture is now skeletonized and made to look like the frame of a starship in construction! The center triangular shape now appears as a bridge over the motion works and the secondary triangular top plate has a frame that creates even more depth in the dial. The most complicated dial of the bunch, it also offers the most to discover, just like the frontier it would accompany you to on the Mars One mission.

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    The last version and the one that completes the journey to the stars is the DB28 Skybridge. Oh the Skybridge. Never has anything combined the beauty of the stars with the perfection of a timepiece. I really don’t know what to say besides this watch makes me want to weep. Ok maybe not weep, I might be prone to hyperbole, but it seriously makes me emotional. Gone is the top plate, gone is the balance, and gone is the architecture of a starship or any allusion to Star Trek. In its place is left the glorious moonphase and a shapely form that singlehandedly creates the feeling of flying through space. A dished dial of blued and polished Titanium dotted with white gold and diamond stars (created to a specific sky) pulls you into the final frontier and makes a space traveler out of you instantly. The hands are specially designed for this version, ever so delicately skeletonized and polished and pointing to markers unique to this watch piece. An outer chapter ring for the minutes encompasses the dial and polished steel spheres dot the dial for the marking of hours. Nothing in any collection can compete with the presence this piece exudes.

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    The DB28 collection is the perfect collection to be on the wrists of the Mars One mission, heck, it already appears that the collection could have been to Mars and back. I personally find this collection to be one of the most beautiful things you could strap to your wrist, and I will pine away for one of these until the day is leave this earth (one way or another). Elegance, creativity, style, architecture, groundbreaking all describe DeBethune and most perfectly the DB28 line. It will always scream out to reach for the stars and hope to answer back yes!

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    Jimmy, what did you do to this lawnmower, I think it’s about to… Breakdown!


    • Wowza Factor – 10 I’m not even going to lie and say this is anything less. Days were spent staring when I first saw this, and days since have been spent wanting!
    • Late Night Lust Appeal – 214 gn » 2,098.623 m/s2 Yeah, you may remember this insane number for another watch. One that was automotive inspired. The DB28 is equal in my book. So completely different, and so perfectly amazing.
    • M.G.R. – 65 The movements are awesome, but more importantly the design and architecture is awesome. In its variations it utilizes a tourbillon, a dead-beat seconds and a beautiful moonphase, oh how beautiful!
    • Added-Functionitis – Moderate Across the board there are many interesting aspects with a power reserve, moonphase, dead-beat seconds, tourbillon, and a performance indicator. Definitely going to need extra-strength ‘Gotta-HAVE-That’ cream for that complication induced swelling.
    • Clams Per Pound – $250,000 Depending on the model, the prices vary a lot. No matter which one it is I would give up the same amount to keep one in my collection, and I would probably need all four variations too!
    • Ouch Outline – 11.9 – 1,000 Paper-cuts On Your Tongue I have only heard the moans of those poor souls to which this punishment has been inflicted. But I would gladly join their suffering to guarantee one of these be with me on my voyage to the stars!
    • Mermaid Moment – Are you kidding me? There was never a moment in my life when these pieces would not have made me fall in love. They are the most beautiful objects I have held that are also practical for daily use, they might be actually perfect objects!


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    I think it's pretty clear I love De Bethune and everything they are doing. I encourage you to check them out if you don't know them and if you do, continue loving them! Also, applications are still open for the Mars One mission should you be so bold!

    As usual the pictures are not owned by me and can be found freely on the interwebs.

    Have a great week and come back soon! Oh yeah, and DFTBA!

    Cheers and Happy Watching,

    Joshua

  2. #2
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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    I have to pass, there're hurting my eyes.

  3. #3
    Member westlake's Avatar
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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    Well, at least it was a cool video.

    The beauty in true watchmaking comes down to exquisite execution of a very complex task, mechanical efficiency at the tiniest of levels and, on many watches, the expression of complex calculations or ideas in a tasteful and informative way. IMHO and regardless of their high cost and evident complexity, not sure these star-trek-styled watches qualify.
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Watchuseek Editor JMunchow's Avatar
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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    Thank you for commenting and for your opinion on these pieces. I can completely understand not appreciating certain styles, I personally am not a huge fan of divers myself being more interested in mechanics vs. ruggedness. That being said, I find it very interesting that what you use to describe true watchmaking I would use to describe these pieces exactly! To me they exemplify true haute horology in the most modern sense. The use of Titanium for the cases and Silicon for the balance wheel, they employ modern materials in exciting ways and strive to achieve the best finishes possible, something even Rolex pays less attention to in order to achieve high volume, rugged construction, and consistent components. If you were to compare an Elabore grade ETA movement with a standard Rolex calibre and present them to someone who doesn't have any experience with high end watches, they would most likely say the ETA calibre looks nicer and more expensive (any branding marks aside). Yet to those in the know, they understand the tighter tolerances and engineering that goes into a Rolex calibre.

    I would put the finishing and technical prowess of De Bethune on par with many much more established houses and even independents such as FP Journe and Speake-Marin. As for tastefulness, that is completely subjective, so that designation shouldn't be used to determine an objects worth in regards to watchmaking competency. I would venture a guess that you might not be a huge fan of MB&F timepieces either, as they really follow the same vein of thought, something fun and futuristic on your wrist that also happens to tell time. But passion is different with every person, and what makes one person drool might make another person snore. I know pieces like these and those from MB&F or Urwerk are very controversial to collectors, but to me I just see more variety, more creativity, and more general awesomeness to have on my wrist!

    I just hope people can understand and appreciate the hard work, talent, and skill that goes into any watch that gets produced, and how much more goes into ones of this level. That's really why I like to share my favorite pieces, to expose people to the aspects of watches they might not think about on a daily basis. But that's just my view on things from someone who makes things for a living, I know the hard work that goes in to producing anything, be it a chair for your dining table or a Maserati sitting in your driveway. Anywho, thanks for checking out my post and discussing with me!

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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    If one wants to use a watch on Mars, it can not be any watch from Earth as the duration of day on Mars is different. It would have to be created from scratch, especially if it is to have a calendar function.

  6. #6
    Member westlake's Avatar
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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    I would agree with you that "watches" from MB&F, Urwerk and de Bethune are controversial and that most collectors, including myself, view them as intricate and curious novelties - but not a serious watch to collect. That may change over time. Not many trade on the secondary markets so it’s somewhat difficult to judge the overall market, but the ones that do sell trade at a fraction of their original retail price. I mean $250,000? That buys an incredible amount of high horology from several well-established brands.

    Everyone has an opinion and I don’t begrudge yours, but I don’t suggest telling François-Paul or Peter that their watches are on the same level as de Bethune. Just saying…
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

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    Re: De Bethune DB28 Collection - Ground Control to Major Tom

    Thank you for the thoughtful and picture laden narrative. I certainly don't come across these in the wild, so I appreciate the opportunity to learn about them here.

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