April 26, 2018
by David Bredan
The low, angled, hollowed-out lugs are a recognized De Bethune treat at this point, and they serve their two-fold purpose of providing a secure/comfortable fit and pushing ones focus towards that fantastic, round dial. The bezel appears to be slimmer than it actually is, safeguarding an angled, or rather curved, silver flange ring that carries the delicate Roman numerals, gold pips and unusual, but not illegible minute tracks.
Now, about that dial. The base of the dial of the De Bethune DB25V Starry Varius is blued and polished titanium that appears to display a variety of hues on these images just as it does in real life. Don’t confuse it with the D-Blue dial of Rolex though (hands-on here), for this one is not painted to a set transition between colors but rather constantly changes where the lighter or darker areas are. The star patterns can be changed and customized to reflect the position of the stars witnessed in the night sky from any one location at any one given time. The Milky Way patterns are produced by laser beam micro-milling and are gilded with 24ct gold leaves.
Everyone should think what they will, but I found the concept and execution of this dial to be unique and special, and did so without ever getting even a whiff of it being a cheesy or ostentatious idea. The little gold pips are so small and the dial changes its color so quickly that from afar – meaning from the seat next to you – the whole thing just looks expensive and refined, but never in-your-face or pushy. In fact, with its sub-9mm thickness and extra-supple alligator strap and pin buckle, you’ll have no trouble whatsoever keeping this watch hidden under a shirt sleeve for as long as you want.
The hands are what really make this watch, though. They are hand-polished rose gold hands executed in Breguet’s style. A more difficult to appreciate (and capture) aspect than their fantastic length is their generous curve, added so that they can reach over the steeply curved flange ring. The minute hand bridges across the Milky Way like the trail of a space ship that just traveled from one galaxy to another – and I must say my nerves are creaking at the thought of polishing, applying, or later on ever removing these filigree hands. They are absolutely sublime.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it many times again: there simply has never been and will never ever be a truly great watch with less than perfect hands. Look at all the greatest works of the greatest watchmakers (and brands) to have ever operated in the field of watchmaking. A watch, and especially a high-end watch, can only look proper and proud if it has adequately long and beautifully executed hands. Can you see how this does not mean that one needs to friggin’ reinvent hands every single time? If done well, one of the 4-5 main styles of hands is destined to look good on 99% of the watches ever made – but if they are too short, too flat, or too cheaply made, that watch is forever ridden of being anything more than a nice watch. The dial and hands on the De Bethune DB25V Starry Varius are nothing short of absolutely incredible – and whoever he (or she) may be who came up with the idea of these hands and the dial, I’m sure we’ll agree that the watch industry sorely needs more people who truly care about these things and don’t stop until it’s done how it’s supposed to be done.
The DB2005 caliber looks as unusual as you’d hope. It has a certain organic, albeit no less extraterrestrial look to it – spaceship meets jellyfish is what I think of when looking at it. The two, self-regulating twin barrels (executed in this particular way is a De Bethune invention from 2004) provide an impressive 6 days of power reserve, with the “triple pare-chute shock absorbing system.” You’ll see how the massive, mirror-polished bridge that secures the weird, silicon balance “wheel” is fixed onto shock absorbing fittings at each end. Operating frequency is 4Hz and the movement is 30mm wide and comprised of 160 parts. Proof that not many parts can still make for a lot to look at. Finishing is nice, soft, and neat – everywhere you look you see neatly, if not breathtakingly finished parts.
On or off the wrist, today or a hundred years from now, I personally think the De Bethune DB25V Starry Varius is an absolutely stellar watch. It isn’t the most watch you can buy for 60 large ones, but once one has had all the crazy and fun watches that wore off soon after, I can see some collectors scaling back and getting something like this to wear on a daily basis, for an extended period of time. With its hands and dial legibility is not sacrificed in favor of the “main play.” The 6-day power reserve means you can leave this watch in a safe for more than 40 hours without finding it dead, while the quality of execution combined with the prospect of having a unique dial will certainly make this worth holding on to for long.
On a final note, I will say that based on images I was nowhere near this excited about this watch – I was skeptical about it actually getting all the things right that it needs to for it to be more than just another fun watch. I think De Bethune succeeded, which is yet another reason why I’m happy that they are still around.
Price for the De Bethune DB25V Starry Varius is 60,000 CHF. debethune.ch