I have heard that waiting is the antechamber of desire. With this DB25 08-01-1297, it is the overdose of desire.
Presented among the group of the 20 first Only Watches, all of those who contemplated it went nuts right at the first second.
Among the auction’s potential sensations, The DB25 Only Watch stands at the top of the list, a quick look at the press kit is enough to be convinced, so much so that the De Bethune are far more impressive in real life than on glossy paper!
At WatchO, everybody is a fan of De Bethune, myself, for better or for worse, I am a fanatic! In short, I had a burning desire to hold it in my own hands.
While we were touring the manufacturing plants, the excitement was growing around this watch; then came the visit at Antiquorum, but it still was nowhere to be seen.
Strongly determined to pay to it the tribute it deserves, I harassed De Bethune communications to try to learn when the piece would be available.
Initially, the watch should have been ready for Antiquorum’s World tour; I get to Antiquorum’s, I meticulously search the Only Watches, misery!
A demo watch was going to be sent for the World tour!
The final version was so difficult to produce that the Zanetta-Flageollet team did not have the watch available for the practice run!
After having shed a hectoliter tear, I once more jumped on the phone to get a chance to see the beauty directly at the factory, no news…
Finally, the WatchO team, which was attending the Antiquorum function last Friday, called me at 1 AM! The DB25 Only Watch had arrived at last! Joy, happiness, ecstasy, bliss!
On Saturday, I turn up brandishing my G10, I shoot more pictures than a Japanese tourist in front of Mona Lisa, I finally review it and can affirm that, without a doubt, the result matches the expectations!
In order to explain the difficulties met by De Bethune’s team, one has to understand why this DB25 08-01-1297 is unique.
It is so not only because of its design, never seen at De Bethune’s, but also because of its complication, which is a first in this version.
The watch fits into the De Bethune classic lines, of which it revisits the usual features:
44mm white gold case, sapphire crystal with one of the best anti-reflective coatings I have ever seen.
It features the DB25 «Ciel etoile» blue livery, here the sky map represents the conquest of the «Rocher de Monaco» by Francois Grimaldi on the 1st of August 1297.
In the manner of the DB25CE, the caliber decoration is made of super-polished steel.
This movement is derived from the usual De Bethune double-barreled caliber.
The Cal. DB2105S is set at 28800 v/h for a 6-day power reserve.
The regulating organ features the culmination of research on the great inertia, here with a full ring silicon balance, with a platinum outer ring.
I reserve a little preference for the aesthetic of the Titanium/Platinum balance’s previous version, with its two arms that one can see on the DB24-Vetrois. I refer you to De Bethune’s website for more information regarding the DB patents.
This movement’s singularity is that it displays hours/minutes via two silver weights/disks in the aperture at 6 o’clock. More on this later.
In terms of look, when one considers the details, the DB25CE and the DB25OW are quite different.
The DB25CE’s railway is entirely blued, without a clear demarcation with the dial, which features the same surface treatment , whereas that of the DB25OW is clearly delineated by a silver edging.
Moreover, the classic DB25CE’s dial is not taken-up by the gigantic applied central part.
Everything reinforces the impression of aperture carried by the DB25CE’s dial, and invites the eye to wander on the fabulous blueing.
The DB25OW totally distances itself, the dial is far narrower (akin to the DB25Tourbillon) and authoritatively sends the eye toward the opening’s aperture;
It is a great visual achievement, as the intended effect is reached, the eye stands naturally on the hour display zone.
The effect is truly exclusive, one does not face a basic variation of the DB25CE, but a watch that visually stands between the DB25CE and the DB25T.
Hence, akin to the DB25T, the dial’s blueing is darker, its base color (if it can be so considered) tends more toward a Midnight blue than toward the DB25CE’s Royal blue.
The other surprise, directly from the DB25T, are the silver areas, the railway silver edging, which draws its essence from aesthetical trends more related to fashion than to watchmaking.
Of course, the two hour and minute disks are made of silver, therefore quite heavy, it is a first for a wristwatch: the disks are usually made of lighter materials.
In order to move this mass, it obviously takes more work regarding the torque and the disks balancing than for a simple «2 hands».
Indeed, the key feature is the applied central part, its shape, its presence, completely change the way the dial reflects light, the watch goes from ochre to Royal blue, passing through all the intermediate shades of blue.
The blueing is not made with a flame, but by heating to 700°C in a special oven;
The titanium plates that compose the dial and its different parts are polished and cleaned with alcohol ahead of time.
The optimal «cooking» time is about half a second;
Until now, only the slightly curved or perfectly flat surfaces had been treated with this process.
Here, the applied central part’s angles have increased the technicality of manufacturing the dial.
The result matches the difficulty of the performance, the watch shimmers with a thousand suns (I refer you to my article «De Bethune Total manufacture» for more details).
Thus, you don’t buy a watch, but a set of watches, a piece whose look evolves according to the lighting, thus empirically according to the time of the day; It almost reconciles the sundial and the mechanical watch!
The presence of the applied central part also calls for many interpretations, one could see it as some nocturnal animal’s eye, a closed eyelid; or a blade…
After many discussions with multiple stakeholders, the later hypothesis seems to be the most plausible, without any confirmation though…
Indeed, on the 1st of August 1297, Francois Grimaldi known as «Malizia», the princely family’s ancestor, calls on the Monegasque fortress’ gate disguised as a monk, with a long sword hidden under his frock.
It is this sword that, in the middle of the night, will enable him to neutralize the sentinels and to open the gates to his troops, avoiding a long siege of the Rocher.
Nowadays, the Principality still represents the Genovese «Malizia» as a stooping monk, only betrayed by the presence of a sword’s handle sticking out from the frock.
Hence, if this DB25OW pays tribute to the Principality, it is in all elegance, in all subtlety, no blazon, no red and white, only the fabulous starred sky of the evening of a fabulous feat.
De Bethune offers for Only Watch a piece that should fill the sharpest collectors with enthusiasm, as the exercise perfectly matches the event’s requirements and even more so!