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De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Mention De Bethune and you are probably thinking of something that is out of this world and futuristic looking. However, the De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon is nothing quite like that. In fact, it looks pretty ordinary. It has a relatively conventional looking dial with no fancy Star Trek-like tourbillon bridges and its case doesn’t even have the floating lugs that some of De Bethune’s other watches are known for. So what is it about the DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon that makes it special and worthy of deeper mention? Well, the ovals surrounding the dial with the signs of the Zodiac (and the name of the watch) give that away. Let’s take a look at this De Bethune that strays from the brand DNA on the dial, but retains that identity somewhat funnily enough on the case back.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

But before we begin, a little clarification is probably necessary about the DB25 collection. When I mention De Bethune, most people are probably thinking of something that looks otherworldly, and for good reason. Because De Bethune’s DB28 collection watches are arguably the ones that are most definitive of the brand. This includes watches like the epic DB28T Tourbillon “Kind of Blue” and the DB28 Digitale.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

So what is the DB25 collection? The easiest way to put it would be that these are De Bethune’s take on more classic watches. As a result, they look less wacky and more conventional. The DB25 World Traveller, which is the brand’s take on a classic world timer watch, is a good example of what one can expect from a DB25 collection watch.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon is based on the DB25T from 2012, with prominent changes around the dial. The case is made out of white gold and is 44mm and a smidgen over 10mm thick. It features De Bethune’s distinctive drum shape and hollowed lugs, but these lugs are fixed – they don’t move to conform to the shape of your wrist. Because the case is quite wide and the lugs are substantial, the watch wears pretty large on the wrist.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The dial is quite magical. On the dial are the 12 signs of the zodiac, which are in fact solid gold medallions hand-engraved by artist Michèle Rothen. A highly experienced engraver, Michèle also worked with De Bethune to create engravings for the dial of the DB25 Imperial Fountain from 2013. These gold medallions are set into a mirror-polished blued titanium ring. Apart from the gold zodiac inlays, there are also solid white gold “stars” set into the ring. These elements look exceptionally vibrant, especially when light falls on it in the right way.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The blued titanium ring and solid gold zodiac inlays might be the highlight of the dial, but there’s loads more for owners to gawk at. Outside of the blued titanium ring is a minute track and within the titanium ring is a silver-tone hour ring with the hours marked by large Roman numerals. Deeper within is a silver guilloché disc with an aperture at 12 o’clock that De Bethune calls the “movement operating indicator.” It is actually more like a power reserve. The indicator reads 0 when it is fully wound and 5 when it is out of energy, which is actually a little odd since the claimed power reserve is 4 days.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Adding to the beauty of the dial are the exquisite Breguet-style hands. The hour and minute hands are both made out of yellow gold, while the seconds hand is hand-polished blued steel. Speaking of which, the seconds hand is a jumping seconds hand. Yup, the DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon has a deadbeat movement. What’s even more impressive is that the seconds hand lands precisely on its marker every second – a sign of a well-calibrated and designed movement.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

If you thought the dial was amazing, wait till you see the movement. The DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon is fitted with the incredible Calibre DB2109, which features a high-speed tourbillon and, as I mentioned earlier, central jumping or deadbeat seconds. More impressive, however, is the architecture of the movement. Through the sapphire case back, owners can admire the sci-fi spaceship-like bridge and also the high-speed tourbillon. The tourbillon beats at 5 Hz and makes a full rotation every 30 seconds. A handy 30-second indication around the tourbillon lets owners know exactly how fast it is spinning. Power reserve is 4 days or 96 hours.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Calibre DB2109 is also immaculately decorated, featuring nicely applied Côtes de Genève on the main bridges, hand beveled edges, and blued titanium bridges. The tourbillon is made out of a combination of silicon and titanium, which makes it light and durable. It consists of 63 parts, the lightest of which weighs less than 0.0001 grams. Perhaps more amazing is that the heaviest tourbillon component is just 0.0276 grams. This lack of weight is what allows the movement to attain a 4-day power reserve despite its fast beat rate.

De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I like the DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon watch a lot. On the front, you have what is a very elegant dial with some of the best dial work that money can buy. Flip the watch over, and what you have is a very futuristic-looking movement that is unlike any of its contemporaries and is built and finished to a very high standard. It is a marriage of the old and the new, and the resulting package is one that I find to be very attractive and enticing. Obviously, the zodiac theme is not for everyone – I know some people who feel strongly against this whimsical concept – but if you are a believer or if you aren’t bothered by it. The DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon is one very special watch with very nice qualities. The De Bethune DB25T Zodiac Tourbillon is limited to just 20 pieces and is priced at $275,000debethune.ch

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  • Kuroji

    Killer watch.

  • IanE

    I’m not sure about the colour scheme (and will doubtless never see it in real to judge better), but fantastic horology, as ever, from my favourite Indie. The Digitale is my top grail, but I’d not turn this down!

  • Word Merchant

    Ah, the first set of pictures from the Hong Kong watch fair.

  • Rob D

    While not to my taste, this is as impressive as ever from de bethune, I love the mix of classic dial with super modern movement. If only the finishing looked as good on some other high end watches. That signature shade of blue they seem to have is lovely.

  • Khizer Rahman

    why is there no logo on the watch face and the buckle… just curious…

    • Word Merchant

      Well would you own up to it?

    • BrJean

      And no ‘Swiss Made’ at the bottom of the dial! Very suspicious.

    • IG

      It’s a humble company.

      • Moonraker

        I humbly request $275K, if you’d be so kind. I’ll just wait over in the corner sheepishly as you gather the funds.

      • Khizer Rahman

        and they humbly charge a quarter million… lol!

  • MEddie90

    Incredible craftsmanship and engineering, as I expect from De Bethune.

    Dead beat seconds is a bold and controversial complication on a mechanical watch but here it really enhances it, I could watch that huge escape wheel tick all day while the tourbillon spins at a smoother rate. Then you have the finish which is exceptional and incredibly detailed. Fantastic engraving, the bluing is second to none (ok perhaps only second to Rodger Smith) and the white gold spheres are immaculate. On the deadbeat second mechanism and winding wheel the polishing and beveling on the gears and bridge is easily some of the best in the business.

    The design is divisive and not for everyone but as an example of horology and handwork this watch is hard to top.

  • BrJean

    My only complain about this watch is power reserve indicator: it looks and behaves confusing. I’d replace it with a simple sliding bar; no numbers needed. Besides that it’s close to perfection.

    P.S. Breguet hands — best hands!

  • “The indicator reads 0 when it is fully wound and 5 when it is out of energy”

    I’d be curious as to why they chose this method of displaying power reserve, when it’s counter-intuitive to every indicator function since the dawn of the machine age. Does the stem only need five full rotations until it’s fully wound?

    Speaking of curious: “Obviously, the zodiac theme is not for everyone – I know some people who feel strongly against this whimsical concept”. Out of all the possible controversial topics in the world, does anyone really know a person, let alone ‘people’ who really feel ‘strongly against’ the zodiac? Sure, I can think of plenty of people who might have some negative opinions specifically about this watch; I myself fall into the camp of “If I happened upon a quarter million dollars, a watch with a hand-engraved Capricorn medallion is not the first item I’d dream about purchasing.” I don’t think that merely viewing this watch would fill me with Berkeley -levels of seething rage, though.

    • arnemart

      Strongly against the zodiac? Well, I for one strongly feel that astrology bullshit has no place in serious horology.

    • BNABOD

      “Berkeley -levels of seething rage” classic

    • joe Shmoe

      here in the deepish south we all know people, at least in passing, who think you will burn in hell for all eternity for reading the horoscope in the daily paper. these folks also think that the earth is 5000 years old, slavery was the will of god, and that pro wrestling is a real competitive sport. welcome to the world.

    • Spangles

      The 0 is full thing is how marine chronometers did it–it tells you how many hours it has been since you wound the movement, which is important because you need a predictable rate stability. So, you use the clock at 10 hours, or whenever, after winding, each time so the isochronism works out the same. Otherwise, your measure for longitude gets off.

      Hopefully someone will correct me on my poor recollection on the above. Anyway, it’s a tribute to how marine chronometers have their power reserve.

      • Guillermo Grodiño

        I think you’re right, and there are some wristwatches that do it that way (FPJ, Glashütte Original)…but why the 5 on this piece? It’s so strange.

  • Mischa

    Ha! A tourbillon not made for showing off? Unless they expect the watch to actually not be worn (at that price range, I probably wouldn’t dare wear it).
    That power reserve indicator really is weird. Power reserve is 4 days, yet reserve marker goes from 0 to 5. I’m also wondering if they’ll be sued for the very obvious Star Trek theme on the back.

    I’m just ranting a bit, of course. It’s a phenomenal timepiece. I particularly like the reach of the hands.

  • IG

    Which hand points to the zodiacs or they rotate or how do you know which is the actual one?

    • Frans Krook

      None, which is a shame. It kinda defeats the purpose. Most zodiac watches don’t actually track them at all, they merrily show all symbols on the dial. Pointless in my opinion. Then again, astrology is pointless, so…yeah.

      • IG

        I see, just ornaments. Strange.

      • egznyc

        And they could have made the zodiac symbols display which sign we’re in by use of a Rolex Sky Dweller-type mechanism. Also as you note, it’d be “pointless.” 😉

  • Marius

    Thanks to their futuristic designs and impressive in-house calibers, DeBethune is definitely one of my favourite independent brands. Nevertheless, I have to say that I find this watch rather uninspired and bizarre.

    Firstly, I find the design to be a clashing of two styles. On the one hand, the case and movement have the characteristic futuristic and Star Trek-inspired design. On the other hand, the dial — with its engravings and Breguet hands — has a very traditional, old-school look. To my eyes, these two styles clash, and create a rather weird overall look. It’s like outfitting a super modern kitchen with appliances from the 70`s. It’s like taking the latest Lamborghini Huracan and equipping it with the interior of an 80`s car.

    Secondly, and also related to design, I find the overall design of this timepiece a bit cheap and Chinese-esque. As the Word Merchant vividly explained, if I didn’t know that this was a DeBethune, I could easily mistake this for one of the latest releases of the Hong Kong Watch Show.

    Lastly, I find the $280,000 quite exaggerated. Sure, a tourbillon is not easy to manufacture & calibrate, but its hardly a super impressive feature. Pretty much every brand has one in its portofolio, so unless you’re talking about a gyro-tourbillon, nobody will be terribly impressed. Similarly, the engravings are certainly difficult to produce, but their overall appearance doesn’t really impress me. I’m sorry to say this, but for this kind of price, I would have expected a bit more. Be that as it may, I now exactly what I will buy with my $280,000 — a brand new Aston Martin Vanquish in electric blue, with red leather seats. See you at the Hotel de Paris!

  • WatchNeophyte

    I love many of De Bethune’s watches and I can’t deny the craftsmanship and care that went into this piece; I mean, look at those hands. However, as beautiful as it is, I’m just not a fan of the Zodiac element on this one. Would I take it as a gift: Yes. Would I buy it: No.

  • BNABOD

    looks very well made and the movement looks like the freak but as some have pointed out the zodiac thing is a niche within a niche…not sure how popular the horoscope reading masses will feel about 280K on a watch.

    • Phil leavell

      It’s truly a killer

  • Phil leavell

    De Bethune never ceases to amaze me.. Artistry & engineering incredible,. His designs from futuristic, modren to classical, and what will he do next, unfortunately the price point reaches Bazaar truly something I’d be afraid to wear

    • Mike Brooks

      I like this watch as a work of art, but I’d look a prat wearing one.

      • Phil leavell

        At 280 k you’d be jumping jack Pratt. Just strut Like a Rockstar

  • Yanko

    De Bethune makes some spectacular watches. However, this one is kitschy.

  • SuperStrapper

    When i saw the next article was debethune i couldnt click the link fast enough, but no.

    The movement? I’d make cooing noises and snuggle it as the power reserve wound down each time. But the dial? I want to serve polenta to an Italian grandmother on it.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Does nothing for me. I`m not a friend of astrology. The complications are impressive but useless. The back is ugly and the Star-Trek thing looks like popped on it. And I think the watch is ugly. Not my cup of tea, the whole brand never was. I`m more an Urwerk or MB&F guy.

  • Shinytoys

    That is a gorgeous watch…

  • Spangles

    Wow. Gorgeous.

    I hope DeBethune is doing okay as a company, because anyone who makes watches like this deserves to succeed.

  • Ulysses31

    The Star-Trek movement is really inappropriate for this watch from a stylistic standpoint. I want to like this, and it’s not ugly by any means but it’s just so overly ornate and flouncy, like something that a weirdo magician of questionable sexual habits would wear. Someone into eyeliner and excessive prancing would lap this up. The astrological mumbo-jumbo kills it for me though. A rare misstep for DeBethune.

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