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
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
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
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.