Details 

A very rare, fine and unusual white gold complicated wristwatch of the Swiss watch brand De Bethune, founded in 2002 by the Italian vintage watch dealer David Zanetta and French watchmaker Denis Flageollet. Production period: 2008–2011. Case in 18k white gold, diameter 44.4mm, 16.1mm thick, mobile (‘floating’) lugs of a hollowed design in titanium with pivoting system, sapphire caseback. Matt silvered dial, raised chapter ring with blued steel hemispherical hour markers and peripheral ‘railway’ minutes scale, sub-dial in polished and blued steel for spherical moonphase indicator, unusual transparent sapphire crystal hands wrapped with blued steel frame. Manual-winding DB2005 caliber, double barrel and 5-day power reserve. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, perpetual calendar indicating date at 9 o’clock, days of the week in an aperture at 11 o’clock, months in an aperture at 7 o’clock and leap-year in an aperture at 3 o’clock, De Bethune spherical moonphase indicator at 3 o’clock. De Bethune black leather strap with De Bethune pin buckle in 18k white gold. Numbered edition. De Bethune reports only 16 pieces of this reference produced since 2008. 

Lot essay 

The DB26 Perpetual Calendar is one of the rarest De Bethune watches. Launched in 2008, just two versions were produced – Ref. DB26WS1 in 18k white gold with titanium floating lugs, as the present lot, and Ref. DB26RS1 in 18k rose gold with titanium floating lugs. De Bethune reports only 16 pieces of the first reference, and 4 pieces of the second. We should emphasize that the present lot is numbered 16, so evidently it is the last example of this reference ever produced.

A perpetual calendar is one of the traditional complications of fine watchmaking. De Bethune created for the DB26 Perpetual Calendar its own, impressive and unusual, interpretation of such a complication. The watch’s dial features calendar indications, arranged in a unique manner, and is completed with extraordinary hour and minute hands of transparent sapphire crystal wrapped with a blued steel frame. Denis Flageollet, the co-founder of the brand and its technical genius, is credited with inventing these hands, a design unparalleled in the history of watchmaking. His idea was to ensure that the hands would never obscure the calendar information in the windows, regardless of the position of the hands. In addition, the perpetual calendar is complemented by a branded spherical moonphase indicator made of blued steel and platinum. The ‘floating’ lugs of the case are another signature of the brand, and it was on the DB26 that De Bethune first unveiled this patented system, ensuring perfect comfort of the watch on the wrist. 

The present lot is numbered 16, so evidently it is the last example of this reference ever produced.

The DB2005 caliber, visible through the sapphire caseback, is an entirely in-house caliber. Having an impressive 5-day power reserve, it was developed in 2008 and embedded with patented and exclusive De Bethune innovations such as a titanium balance wheel with platinum inserts, a hairspring with flat terminal curve, and a unique triple shock resistance system with flat steel fixing springs and a flexible horizontal bridge. The movement is designed in the characteristic De Bethune style, with a shield-shaped barrel bridge of so-called ‘Star Trek design’, decorated with branded ‘De Bethune stripes’, a kind of classic Côtes de Genève. 

Reasons to bid 

The DB26 Perpetual Calendar ‘The Last’ Ref. DB26WS1 would be an extremely attractive purchase for the collector and De Bethune watchmaking expertise aficionado, with an opportunity to obtain an important – the last in a numbered series, and therefore unique – extraordinary complicated mechanical watch from this famous independent watch brand, one of the undoubted leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. The short production span of the present reference, its unusual, memorable and immediately recognizable design, and one-of-a-kind interpretation of the perpetual calendar complication embodied in the present lot, undoubtedly add to its appeal. 

N.B. 

The keen collector should note that also offered for purchase in this sale is an impressive selection of De Bethune collectible wristwatches, including the extremely rare ‘all blue’ DB28 Kind of Blue ‘Golden Hands’, DB28 Grand Sport ‘Grand Sailor’, DB25 Moon Phase Starry Sky ‘Single Fan’, as well as other fine and notable timepieces of the brand.