On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of today’s iconic De Bethune DB28 series, this energetic Swiss ultra-high-end watchmaker has released the De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon, which is limited to 10 pieces — it’s so beautiful. In addition to being obsessed with precisely cutting small parts and finishing them with excellent results, what I admire most about De Bethune is its indifference to norms or conventions. Although there are many “rebels” in the field of high-end luxury watches, when it comes to serious watch rebellion, few can match De Bethune.
When I talk about “don’t care”, I mean doing things, such as putting “steel” in the title of the watch, where steel accounts for a relatively small proportion of the watch’s overall metal or material composition. Or just avoid important small details in the press release, such as specifying how big the watch is (43 mm wide and 9.8 mm thick). I’m pretty sure De Bethune will not worry about the size of the watch. They made the case to suit their movements. As far as the DB28 is concerned, one of the reasons it is so famous is the hinged lugs that help it wrap around the package. This “comfort lug” system is actually a re-improvement of the DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon, indicating that it is different from the DB28 case that De Bethune debuted ten years ago.
The case is made of highly polished titanium (which actually looks like steel), which is where De Bethune does a good job. They also have flame blue titanium, and you can see the parts on the dial, such as the outer ring, around the barrel, and the tourbillon frame. The concept of Steel Wheels is De Benthune’s view of skeletalization, which is quite elegant here. We see a lot of inspiration from contemporary luxury boat design here-which means it is elegant, sporty and practical. This is how to do futurism on your wrist. It looks good, but also technically attractive.
For some reasons, this DB28 is not a traditional hollow watch. The first reason is that it is not so “hollow”. The splints and wheels of the DB2019V5 movement are transparent, but still rigid in structure. Precisely cut transparent and blue sapphire crystals help to create this interesting effect, and the multi-layered depth of the dial makes this effect even more pleasing. The complete design of the designer’s hour and minute hands and the unique two-tone titanium DB28 hands ensure legibility. The manual winding movement consists of 272 parts and is equipped with a special 30-second tourbillon system.
The tourbillon is also a “high-beat” tourbillon, running at a frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 bph). This is the same as Zenith El Primero. The balance wheel itself is made of titanium and silicon, which is obviously the lightest De Bethune has ever made, weighing only 0.0001 grams! The entire tourbillon cage assembly itself weighs only 0.18 grams). Similarly, according to De Bethune, this is an import record for this category. Seeing the tourbillon intuitively in a watch like this is a more vivid experience, because it moves at twice the speed of a standard tourbillon, spinning a full circle every 30 seconds.
Where does the steel in the “Steel Wheel Sapphire Tourbillon Watch” come from? Well, as the product name implies, the wheels of the movement are mainly made of steel. Why is this a big deal? Although many watch cases are made of steel, steel is a very rare metal that can be used to make watch movements. Steel is a relatively challenging metal because it is very hard. For many machining purposes, brass is more preferred. Brass is relatively strong, but it is also much softer to machine. Most metal watch parts are brass. Steel can be polished beautifully, but it is also very strong. Considering that brass may be too fragile, even with a sapphire crystal holder, it may be the metal of choice for this thin structure.
Can you understand why watch nerds and design lovers love such luxury men watch? The movement inside the DB28 is like an elegant coach, but the movement is designed to run like an exotic supercar. Although this style is not suitable for everyone, no one can really deny the great advantages of this kind of creation, or easily question the value proposition of the price.