lot 11

De Bethune


Estimate CHF 80 000 / CHF 160 000
Starting bid CHF 70 000

Hammer price CHF 140 000
Total bids 10
Buyer’s premium will not be charged
Currently, we see a growing interest in watches from independent watchmakers and small creative brands. De Bethune watches, especially the early models, are definitely at the center of this interest. With this lot, you have a chance to touch one of the earliest watches to ever leave the brand’s workshops. It’s the very first reference of the newly founded brand, equipped with a caliber that Denis Flageollet was involved in developing – imagine that! – even before he co-founded De Bethune! And the development took place under the direction of François-Paul Journe. That’s why the DB1 Ref. DB1W No. 014 is a monument to history not only for De Bethune, but also for the movement of independent watchmakers.
Alex Kutkovoy
More than 10 years editor in Revolution
CHF 80 000 / CHF 160 000


CasePolished white gold case 750/1000 with a solid white gold caseback, crown at 3 o'clock with integrated chronograph pushers
StrapBlack Alligator leather strap, with a original white gold pin buckle
DialEngine turned silvered dial, with black Roman numerals, railway minute track, chronograph minutes counter at 3 o'clock & small seconds 9 o'clock, blued Breguet hands, dial signed: "De Bethune"
MovementRhodium-plated hand-wound column-wheel chronograph with blued screws & Geneva stripes
Case No.014
D=42 mm
YearCirca 2002

Condition report

Case:Good condition, small signs of wear
Strap:Good condition, small signs of wear
Dial:Mint condition
Movement:Very good, all funtions working properly
Amplitude (Dial on top/Lift angle 52):Approx 270°
Accuracy (Dial on top):Approx +5 sec/day


An extremely rare, collectible, charismatic and early white gold chronograph wristwatch from Swiss watch brand De Bethune, founded in 2002 by Italian vintage watch dealer David Zanetta and French watchmaker Denis Flageollet. The present reference was launched in 2002. Case in 18k white gold, diameter 42 mm, 8 mm thick, with ogival lugs, solid white gold caseback with engraved brand name, reference and serial number. Matte silvered solid gold dial with guilloché ‘Grain d'Orge’ motif in the center, slightly recessed sub-dials with fine concentric grooves, chapter ring with dark blue pad printed radial Roman numerals and blued steel ‘Pomme de Breguet’ hands. De Bethune caliber [DB]2002, manual winding, power reserve up to 36 hours. Functions – display of time in hours and minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, monopusher chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Black leather strap, De Bethune pin buckle in 18k white gold. Numbered edition. De Bethune states that only 28 pieces have been made since 2002. 

Lot essay 

Currently, De Bethune watches are achieving very good results at auctions, especially pieces from the early days of the company. It should also be mentioned that the brand has never produced watches in large quantities since its inception. De Bethune’s production has always had an extremely limited, exclusive character. The early De Bethune watches, especially the models that appeared on the market in the year of the company's foundation, are of great interest to collectors, as the brand's collection developed very dynamically in the early period. Many references appeared, their production time was usually very short, and the number of issued pieces was very small. 

The DB1 has a unique status that is significant for the history of the brand and its heritage, because it's the first reference that began the chronicle of De Bethune. In addition, this watch has an interesting feature that further increases its value as a collectible. 

In its early years, the brand had just begun to develop its own calibers, and the watches released in 2002 and 2003 featured calibers purchased from suppliers. This is also true for the De Bethune caliber [DB]2002 of the present example. It’s based on a rare hand-wound monopusher chronograph movement developed by the Atelier for complicated movements THA (Techniques Horlogères Appliqueés). THA was founded in 1996 by independent watchmaker François-Paul Journe, while Vianney Halter and Denis Flageollet, further one of the co-founders of De Bethune, joined him. The caliber [DB]2002 is actually a version of the caliber 045 MC, originally developed by THA for the reissue of the Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir watch. It’s based on the layout of early wrist chronographs from the first quarter of the 20th century, whose functions were switched by pressing the crown. Later, alternative designs were developed with a separate button or two buttons. In addition, this caliber uses a rare combination of a column wheel control and a clutch via a rocking pinion. After being produced by THA, the rights for this caliber were transferred to La Joux-Perret, a former Jaquet-Baume factory, and produced as caliber LJP5000-4. In 2007, Bucherer’s watch division purchased THA. 

The present example, with the number 014 engraved on the caseback, is one of the earliest examples of the De Bethune collection to ever leave the Manufacture, which makes this rare and sought-after timepiece even more attractive.

Denis Flageollet was involved in the development and production of the 045 caliber MC. Therefore, it’s only logical that he wanted to use in the collection of the newly founded brand a caliber that he had participated in the development of and knew very well. Unfortunately, the movement in the DB1 watch is hidden behind a solid caseback, so there is no way to quickly determine which version of the movement, THA or La Joux-Perret, is used in this watch. However, apart from a few unprincipled technical aspects, it’s generally the same movement. 

The DB1, De Bethune's first model, is a truly exclusive offering that is gaining momentum as time goes on. Only 28 pieces of the current reference DB1W have been produced since 2002 and only a few have appeared on the secondary market. Besides this reference, the brand has also released models in rose gold (DB1R; 21 pieces) and yellow gold (DB1Y), which were produced only once, according to Phillips. Phillips also mentions a diamond-set white gold version, of which only 4 pieces were made. 

This piece manifests De Bethune’s strategy of always striving to create unconventional, special and spectacular designs, without adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. This means that in every watch of the brand there are always style elements that appear in other references and clearly show that it's a De Bethune watch. In the case of the present reference, these stylistic elements include the characteristic bullet-shaped lugs – called ogival lugs by the brand, a chapter ring with pad-printed dark blue radial Roman numerals, Breguet blued steel hands, and a matte silvered solid-gold dial decorated with two guilloché motifs. 

Reasons to bid 

The DB1 is the first reference ever produced by De Bethune. Therefore, this watch would be a very desirable purchase for collectors and lovers of De Bethune’s watchmaking art. It offers the opportunity to acquire an extremely rare, collectible, charismatic and early mechanical timepiece from this famous independent watch brand, which is undoubtedly one of the leaders in the market of modern haute horlogerie. The present example dates from the first year of De Bethune’s activity and exhibits all the stylistic features characteristic of the brand’s early period, including a large, round and flat case with the characteristic ogival lugs and a light cream-colored, matte silvered solid gold dial with blued steel ‘Pomme de Breguet’ hands. The present example, with the number 014 engraved on the caseback, is one of the earliest examples of the De Bethune collection to ever leave the Manufacture, which makes this rare and sought-after timepiece even more attractive. 

*Under the aegis of Maître Marco Breitenmoser, Huissier Judiciaire