In just a few weeks, the largest and most prominent watch fair will take place in Switzerland. Baselworld is a horological spectacle that takes place on an absolutely grand scale. In fact, with the exception of Richemont and Richard Mille nearly every prestigious brand attends this event. Many of the watchmakers I have been speaking to have focused all their attention on preparing for the show. Ultimately many of these ateliers will achieve most of their annual sales in this week. Personally I am really looking forward to experience the diverse range of exquisite timepieces on display.
At Baselworld the main halls are normally dominated by watch giants Rolex and the Swatch Group. If you want to see more eclectic timepieces then the Palace is the place to be. Here you can meet the owners of companies like Louis Moinet, MB & F, HYT and De Bethune. Previously I have reviewed two De Bethune watches and found them both exceptionally comfortable to wear. The timepieces in question were the fabulous DB27 Titan Hawk and the award winning DB28. A couple of months ago (on a trip to Singapore) I visited The Hour Glass’s flagship Malmaison Boutique and tried on the sensational DB25 Imperial Fountain Zodiac.
Recently many watchmakers have concentrated their efforts on the lucrative Asian market. Regions like Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia have become obsessed with Swiss made watches. By that I mean timepieces that are entirely manufactured in Switzerland rather than those that use the term Swiss made. With their new series of DB25 Imperial Fountain Zodiac watches (inspired by the ornate fountain in the famous Yuanming Yuan), De Bethune have cleverly exploited this market. Apparently the idea for the original concept came from Executive Director of The Hour Glass Michael Tay.
Visually all of the DB25 Imperial Fountain Zodiac watches have a luxurious appearance. Every single meticulous detail of these spectacular dials has been finished to the highest possible standard. Within the range there are twelve models depicting all of the animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, donkey, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) from the Chinese Zodiac. The model I was fortunate to try on had a wonderful hand engraved horse sculpture perfectly executed by renowned craftsman Michèle Rothen. This amazing feature perfectly interacts with the opulent 18-karat solid gold dial. Generally I found the watch sat comfortably on my wrist and I didn’t encounter any friction whilst I was wearing it. Primarily this is down to the wonderfully formed 44mm polished white gold case and ingenious floating lugs.
Beneath the mesmerizing exterior lies a highly accomplished twin barrel manual winding movement. The Calibre DB 2145 comprises 31-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. Each of the 287 components (including De Bethune’s patented Silicon/white gold balance wheel) has been flawlessly decorated and assembled by hand. This incredible mechanism can be viewed through the marvelous exhibition sapphire crystal case back. Functionally the DB25 Imperial Fountain Zodiac features hours, minutes and a power reserve of 6 days.
The DB25 Imperial Fountain Zodiac has a hand stitched black alligator leather strap with matching 18-karat gold white buckle.
For more information about De Bethune visit the company’s website: http://www.debethune.ch