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Chasing success with De Bethune

Since 2002, when the brand began operations in Geneva, De Bethune has developed some 26 calibres, presented 30 or so world’s firsts, filed a number of patents and launched over 150 one-of-a-kind timepiece models. The Swiss maison’s collections have won several awards for their unique style. Pierre Jacques, who’s been at the helm since 2011, tells us more about what goes on behind the scenes.

What defines success at De Bethune?
The passion of the people who are behind the brand. We stick to the philosophy of the brand. It’s what we do and what we strive for every day. We are a small company and very innovative. We produce 150 watches a year while maintaining a high level of exclusivity. At the same time, we simply do not have the capacity to produce more than 150 pieces a year. We are not running after profit, but seeking the satisfaction of our customers.

The company was launched in 2002 and since then, we have produced a little more than 2000 watches. Today, De Bethune is among the top three niche watch brands in the world. We have made our peace with the fact that a headlong rush towards increased productivity is not for us. De Bethune is entering the age of reason and our vision is not aligned with doing more, but it’s all about doing better.

It’s a competitive market out there. How does De Bethine stand out?

De Bethune is all about honouring the art and history of watchmaking, keeping all our operations in line with the workings of the 21st century. We’re avant-garde and modern and that’s how we stand out from the crowd.

Although modern in your approach, most of the models maintain a classic sense of design. Tell us more.
We have always based our work on the universal traditions of watchmaking. The toughest part is to maintain meaning and not merely make watches for the purpose of being different. For example, the DB25 Starry Varius model is inspired by the cosmos, the beginning of time and the heavens above. When you want to observe time in motion without any instruments, you look upwards and this is a recurrent theme in watchmaking. The DB25 Starry Varius works as a personalised constellation with revisited lugs and an original 42mm case composed of a delightfully pure classic aesthetic while imparting fresh creative momentum.

What is the most popular model so far?
It’s the DB28. Over the years, the DB28 has become a classic for De Bethune. Interpreted with various contemporary stage-settings, from the Skybridge to Kind of Blue, it notably won the prestigious Aiguille d’Or (Best in Show) prize at the 2011 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. In January 2018, during Geneva’s Watch Week, coinciding with the SIHH, De Bethune took centre stage by unveiling the unprecedented architecture of its movement through an exceptional timepiece: the DB28 Steel Wheels, issued in a 25-piece limited edition.

In this stunning model, De Bethune reveals cutting-edge technology dedicated to art: a self-regulating twin barrel ensures a six-day power reserve and it also features a balance spring with a flat terminal curve, a silicon escape wheel, a triple parachute shock-absorbing system and a new and efficient titanium balance wheel with white gold inlays.

So would you say a De Bethune watch works well as an investment, more than a style statement?
I believe, a watch is not a commodity and the profit from this kind of investment manifests in years and decades. Even when it comes to buying a car, the prices can also increase after years, if you choose a unique design, limited edition model. But with mass produced cars, it will never give you more money than you pay for a new one. The same goes for a watch, but it’s the next generation of the customer’s family that will get these benefits. We live now, in the present, and we create these pieces for people who enjoy wearing a watch every day.

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