De Béthune, horological manufacture:
A serious project, a project which has a sense, a heavy project, is recognized with the acuity of its strategy, and the organization of its structure.
A watchmaking adventure, unless being a total handyman (tendency brilliant like Pita or Prescher), is before a whole industrial project completed by passioned and determined craftsmen.
Not, that I not concluded immediately the article, my conclusions will be expanded over…
But I believe the point which me ace more impressed in this visit of manufacture, it is the direction of the project, the organization without fault, and the absolute will of quality,
The project industrial and organisational of Béthune, is perfectly readable, I made some visits of manufactures, and I saw many more or less independent projects, which did not have any direction, all was organized around the blow, blow marketing, clock making blow basing on 7750, blow with the investors, successive blow which takes forms of fools diner's.
Here it is the opposite, no communication, transparent publicity, delirious watchmaking contents and structure of manufacture worthy of the most famous houses, and even beyond on the qualitative level in many angles.
The structure of the products range is the same, the almost perfect legibility (a problem in numbering of watchs), and the whole with a deep sense, I return there afterwards.
Manufacture is structure on 3 level for the factory, + the research department.
Today, I would speak to you that manufacture, the research department part and explanations on the movements will await next an article.
In the manner of a good video game, or of a good film of John Woo (remember the hospital of Hard Boiled), the three stages, represents 3 level of evolution of the watch.
With the Basement, we finds 3 CNC, the movements are cut, certain cases (not those of titanium, the constraints of safety measures of with titanium ignite require special machines), and almost-totality of the parts are prepared. (I believe that cows on the opposite field don't be used for the straps)
The parts are cut on one of the 3 CNC, cleaned, passed to Galvano, and prepared in seen of.
There is obviously, when quality is made, a lot of rejections:
The tolerance is to the maximum of 2hundredths of millimetres (it is lower on certain parts):
To arrive to this result, It needs obviously expensive material of precision, on the first photograph the big drill made 3mm:
When I talk about structure and organization, the main room is 80m ² and room Galvano, contiguous:
he pieces go up to ground floor to make the final appearance before their assembly, value added De Bethune, shines through in the ground floor, it was here that they turned blue flame (not not to brush), operations are generalized blueing in parts of De Bethune, and there a lot of failures, so the pieces back to polishing, and must be renéttoyés alcohol, then re-blued.
The polishing, sanding, and various finishes are also achieved in this floor, is where the spirit of Bethune, begins to dress the brass block.
The parts go up in to ground floor to take the final appearance, before their assembly, the value added De Béthune, shines through on the ground floor , it is indeed here, that bluing under flame is made (not at brush), the operations of blueing are generalized on the watchparts De Béthune, and there is a lot of failures, so the pieces returns to polishings, and must be recleaned with alcohol, then re-blued.
Polishing, sanding, and various finishes are also achieved on this floor, it is there that the De Béthune spirit, starts to dress the brass block.
This mini furnace of 50cm on 50cm, is a centerpiece of the manufacture, it is here that it was made in particular the fabulous dial of the DB25L“starry Sky”, it allows via its high temperatures of 700° to turn titanium in blue. The operation is extremely delicate. This new process in the watchwmaking, its not a secret...
But is so difficult to implement, that the other house throw the towel, we could make an analogy of the underground technique of infiltration of the French 13th RDP, that the Americans tried in vain to reproduce, too harsch.
Stages of the treatment, with the furnace, cleaning, exit, of the all blue piece (that's a quite bit original than the all black concept) :
The futur, handscrafted, and blued at the flame, it sound like the book of John Zerzan, Future Primitive:
3d moonphases, the blue part is made of blued steel, and the white part, in platinium, the blue part the blue is prominent, to fit into the white part, for compensate weight differences.
Rare! The black moon, found in the new DW1 (??), black is obtained by oxidation. The operation is to pull out his hair!
More “classically” of the railroads of DB25L “starry sky” and the daily work of the collaborators of De Béthune.
The final stage of manufacture. The assembly floor, where the Sisyphean work of the lower floors takes sense.
The series of recent sportswatchs, DB22, DB24 and "védeux" and DB24vétrois, all in various colors.
I have a little trouble understanding why so many variations in such a small range.
But I love DB24vétrois, and its design of Aztec Temple (Building of New Yorkers, it seems) is one of the most discrete piece, but also one of the more innovative, so much technically with its system of disengageable force of winding, than aesthetically while paying a true homage to the Genta design of RO/Nautilus. (and not by plagiarizing it with a lot of protean screws)
The tourbillon "classic" blued striped circular dial accentuates the effect "spiral" of the tourbillonn.
This is very impressive visually.
Not that the tourbillon is the most interested compared to various rotating vortex of the market (it's not the same price, too), but the aesthetic is really mature, accomplished, it not only poses a BnB tourbillon on a crapy dial, with a price under steroid.
The famous DB25L “Sky starry”, a success for Béthune, its aesthetic codes are easier to apprehend than many watches in the collection, and the dial have fantastic reflects. Not need to make to you the article.
The dial is customized with the sky map of its choice. By default, 02.02.2002 at 2:22 in La Chaux, date of creation of DB.
Watchmakers at work:
The precision work of the assemblers. Each part (thus several hundreds by watches) has a Checklist, they are all checked several times during manufacture , at the end, each watch has undergoes several thousands of controls, the tolerances, with the silicon hairspring are particularly intolerant; :)
And all must be perfect for that functions correctly, the high- precision system does not tolerate the error, the end result is inevitably and consequently absolute.
I read a recurring criticism, about Béthune, type “the old one is the proto of next, blah”.
Contrary to houses like Patek and Rolex which practice the immobilism as commercial philosophy, at De Bethune the search for absolute, conditions a high rhythm of changes and evolution.
De Béthune since 8 years has a history of devellopement range of technical innovations th an many others take 80 years to build ...
I find in this thirst for absolute the myth of the Overman of Nietzche.
“Become what you are”, becomes that which you are in a version improved of yourself, rather than to conform you to the ambient mediocrity resulting from the herd instinct.
“Become what you are” Should be engraved on the back of cases, so much this maxim summarizes the quest of absolute quality that can be found at De Déthune.
This exercise is uchronic, in some aspect, it restarts from the 19th century, and follows ways that post-modern technology makes it possible to take. Denis Flagollet was restorer at the beginning, this training, ultra-traditional, ultra-technique, he was rocked by the spirit of the modern watch pioneers, French, he has been sufficiently far away from the horological Swiss Seraglio, to discern more accurately the ways than would taken great old as Breguet, Jeager, Berthoud if they have benefited from state-of-the-art technology.
Their range, therefore, is structured in three lines, classic, sports, and ... UFO.
As the ranges progresses (in time and also in DB lines), the distance from classicism grow away.
The only watches relatively traditional today are the DB15QP gray and white dial, and the DB25 white dial but its variation the DB25L starry sky leaves almost atavistically the used path the to reinvent the traditional watchmaking.
The sport range, is the more to my taste, because complications are carried out in a utility spirit, DB24vétrois, with its system to regulate the winding force takty all the movements with sport vocation on the market, that almost give me desire for making sports. :)
Finally the UFO range, in my opinion the most difficult to apprehend, by moment, I feel that these watchs are more targeted to fans of contemporary art than watch enthusiasts.
The design cannot leave indifferent, for my part, I had always a hard time with the DB UFO's until the DB28, the previous asymmetric cases disturbed me, and wasted (to my taste), the magic of the dials, the DB28 comes at the right moment to open new markets, as in the sport range, this range growing old much of futuristic purpose things in the world of the watchmaking, such as by the design, of engineering structure inspiration, than by the incredible complications, the 3D moonphase appeared in this range as a perfect illustration.
Once again, there is a structured range, not a series of blow marketing/com', the range covers the serious spectrum, of horological ranges, the sports, the traditional ones, and recent UFO, dear to independents..
(Although we could find some acquaintances with some vintage automats)
In fact the danger of buying a De Béthune is of unhip a collection, it is like Zanetta, brilliant troublemaker, the worst situation which can exist for the other houses...
num balance wheel as the steering wheel of a F1, silicon spiral, triple « pare-
There are still a lot of things to say to you about De Béthune, both in the range development, as on-board technology (titanium / platichute », etc. etc. ...). About the history of the creators, about of the claimed filiation of the Franco-Italian artistic excellence.I hope that will be the subject of next a post.
When I leaving from De Bethune, I had the feeling which Zarathoustra experienced way down among the mens ...
You reach At De Bethune a level of freedom, truth and absolutism that is not any more attainable returning among Swiss watchmakers.
After having fully crunched De Béthune, the horological, never more have the same taste..