DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon in Titanium
on Blue Alligator Leather Strap with Openwork Dial
Condition: This watch is in Mint Condition.* Complete with Box and Papers.
* We have graded this watch to be 95% - there are minor scuffs or some wear on strap
The idea behind the first DB28 Steel Wheels of 2018 was to open the dial to reveal the movement’s contemporary architecture.
With this DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon unveiled during Geneva Watch Days in August 2020, De Bethune has created an even more tantalizing view of the dial and combined it with greater technical complexity thanks to the presence of a tourbillon. The incorporation of translucent blue sapphire on the bridge not only enhances the spectacle but also adds an ethereal touch to a watch that is already out of this world.
Blue is a color we all associate with De Bethune, particularly the intense electric blue of heat-blued titanium that Denis Flageollet discovered by accident in the workshop. Now crafted from blue sapphire crystal, the characteristic delta-shaped bridge in the center of the dial rises to meet your gaze. Not transparent but rather translucent, the blue sapphire adds an element of intrigue. Like the first DB28 Steel Wheels of 2018, the central area of the triangular bridge has been removed to reveal parts of the movement. Underneath the sapphire bridge, you can see the two barrels with their drum covers also protected by a thin layer of blue sapphire.
All the blue sapphire glass components are designed by Denis Flageollet, the founder and master watchmaker of De Bethune. The sapphire is then cut by laser and framed with polished titanium, a contemporary interpretation of the art of stained glass windows. Just to give you an idea of the work involved, each sapphire crystal component varies in thickness: the bridge, for example, is 1mm thick and framed with polished titanium, while the barrel covers are just 0.3mm thick and encircled with a delicate frame of blued titanium.
The hour and minute hands are also openworked and are made in-house, by hand, in De Bethune’s workshop in l’Auberson. The hour hand is a work of art combining sandblasted steel, titanium and blued titanium to match the blue palette of the watch.
Replacing the traditional spherical moon of the DB28 is a fast-spinning, ultra-lightweight 30-second tourbillon held in place by an open worked bridge. An ardent admirer of traditional watchmaking, Denis Flageollet pays homage to Breguet’s tourbillon with a contemporary take on the whirlwind device. To compensate for kinetic forces on the movement, the cage must be as light as possible and operate at maximum frequency and speed of rotation with weight and inertia kept at a minimum. Made from titanium and silicon and comprised of 63 components, the tourbillon beats at 36,000 vibrations per hour, and the lightweight cage rotates on itself every 30 seconds. With a weight of just 0.18 grams, the cage makes this the lightest tourbillon cage ever created.
The case of the DB28 is a triumph of futuristic design, but it also pays homage to certain traditions of classical watchmaking that are dear to Denis Flageollet. The crown’s position at 12 o’clock is a nod to traditional pocket watches, and the flawless finishings associated with traditional métiers d’art, or artisan craftsmanship, can be appreciated throughout.