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Modern Day Alchemists

It has taken just eleven short years for two watchmaking devotees to build what history will doubtless view as the foundations of 21st century horology.

In 2002, when David Zanetta, a collector with a passion for art, history and timepieces, decided to join forces in founding De Bethune with Denis Flageollet, the son, grandson and great-grandson of watchmakers, they were both keenly aware of sharing the same vision of tomorrow’s watchmaking.

A subtle blend of time-honoured skills and the latest scientific breakthroughs, devoted to the service of extreme chronometric precision. The quest for fine craftsmanship pushed to its very limits, to the point where aesthetic and technical aspects meet and merge, where form marries function in the pursuit of perfection.

De Bethune is above all a research and development tool, a laboratory making use of cutting-edge technologies implemented in the spirit of the great 18th century masterwatchmakers, where all parts are designed and produced one by one, while lavishing particular attention on every detail. A place where all that counts is time measurement, but where time is never counted. The workshops of the Manufacture are tinged with a sense of adventure reminiscent of the epic intellectual endeavours of the Age of Enlightenment.

The field of possibilities appears virtually unlimited to these modern-day explorers of the infinitely small, the infinitely precise, as they bend intently over their workbenches. Passion is at once the watchword, the winning formula and the reward for the constant personal commitment of these exceptional men. How else could one explain the nine patents, thirteen calibres and fifteen world première innovations to which the Manufacture has treated watch aficionados in just eleven years of existence?

Naturally, this has been achieved by associating Denis Flageollet’s knowledge, scientific background and insatiable curiosity with David Zanetta’s vast historical and artistic erudition, as well as his aesthetic flair and his passion for beauty. It has also and above all implied the inestimably precious expertise of the expert hands whose ever accurate and constantly repeated gestures convey the heritage of time-honoured experience. The Manufacture has succeeded in bringing these golden hands together like an array of unique pearls.

Each year for a few hundred fortunate connoisseurs around the world, De Bethune offers models enshrining the quintessence of mechanical horology. The apparent simplicity of the lines, their finesse and their elegance at once conceal and magnify the extraordinary complexity of the materials and processes involved. The purity of the cases, together with the exquisite delicacy of the dials and hands that appear to be floating weightless over the movements, testify to a combination of extreme technical mastery and artistic genius.

Not doing more, but instead doing better; drawing inspiration from the past in order to constantly reinvent it; creating bridges between the various fields of knowledge: such are the principles guiding the elaboration of the mechanisms. The pioneering work of De Bethune is accomplished by consistently forging new paths in order to reduce to the utmost the two historical enemies of precision: weight and friction.

Where necessary, these gifted individuals are prepared to adopt the personae of modern-day alchemists in order to mix the most exceptional materials within their unique crucible and to shape them in the spirit of the Manufacture. If needed, they play the role of architects in chiselling steel, platinum and titanium to create sculptures dedicated to the glory of time and of equilibrium.

Builder of 21st century horology and custodian of the grand tradition; with its feet firmly planted in history and its head resolutely turned towards the future, De Bethune received a major token of recognition from its peers in November 2011. The Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix awarded it the famous “Aiguille d’Or” or Golden Hand, its most coveted title, thereby honouring its exceptional approach at the very crossroads of art and science.

David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet, now masterfully accompanied at the head of the company by Pierre Jacques, are well aware that this crowning award is only the start of an adventure: that of horology in the third millennium.
© 2013 DE BETHUNE SA WEB SITE CREDITS