The austerity of metal transformed into an expression of life.
The new DW5 Empreinte, a one-of-a-kind creation belonging to the Maestri'art collection, stems from collaboration between Denis Flageollet, founder and master-watchmaker of De Bethune and Clara Martin, designer and winner of the first De Bethune/ECAL prize in 2019.
Firstly, there is the pictural research Empreinte (imprint) used by Clara Martin to design the motif on the case. Secondly, the Empreinte (stamp) of technical innovation made by Denis Flageollet with a world-first presentation of a titanium surface that is both blackened and blued. Thirdly, the Empreinte (impression) left on the material by Michèle Rothen’s hand engraving. Fourth, the Empreinte (trace) of research in which the connotations of metal and cold and sterile black are transformed into a fascinating, delicate, sensitive object with an almost natural appearance. Finally, the Empreinte (mark) made on all young designers by Pierre Soulages' prolific work in structuring light through black and blue.
This one-of-a-kind creation reveals itself to us and questions our preconceptions. It creates a surprise effect by the rippling pattern that evolves in step with its environment. Clara’s work reveals all the complexity of the colour black by creating a poetic link with observers who see in it a revelation of their own projections.
Clara describes her craft as "the means of conveying through an object the beauty of a material and a unique skill". The challenge of making black and titanium vibrant and poetic thanks to the finesse of the “light design” was achieved with the help of Denis Flageollet's expertise and passion.
As every year in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, the Cempasúchil blossom sings the joy of an enduring celebration. This timekeeper is the outcome of a three-way dialogue: A conversation that spans two eras, between two exceptional art engravers. The first is José Guadalupe Posada, the legendary Mexican engraver and chisel virtuoso who made the dead dance at the end of the 19th century. His work is interpreted with the contemporary talent of Swiss Art engraver Michèle Rothen, working in close concert with Denis Flageollet, master watchmaker and founder of De Bethune. The alliance of blued titanium and gold, new technology for combining the two metals reaching beyond the challenge of a contemporary reinterpretation of the Mexican artist's engravings, Denis Flageollet and Michèle Rothen introduce the additional technical challenges of not only working with a titanium case, but also of having it flame-blued, hand-engraved, and decorated for the first time with delicate gold inserts, as well as engraved to magnify the Cempasúchil blossoms. And to take the level of difficulty a few notches higher still, several different types of 18K gold alloy are used. Engraving was particularly difficult on this piece because titanium already presents a challenge in itself. Combining it with gold was an insane challenge. Engraving them together added yet another degree of difficulty.
Maestri'Art DW5 Armilia
In China, symbols play a prominent role in art, culture and daily life. Whether ancient or more modern, Chinese koi symbols are found in the decoration of objects and furniture. In 2018, De Bethune created a timepiece paying tribute to the finesse and extreme delicacy of the Asian engravings generally adorning bronze vases. Faithful to the spirit of Chinese engravers and poets, the delicately engraved titanium dial is hand blued and embellished with gold particles depicting a ‘choreography’ performed by the carp and dragon. The effect is further enhanced by 12 diamonds serving as hours and minutes markers, while adding a unique and precious radiance.
In 2018, De Bethune drew inspiration from Japanese Tsubas in creating an entirely engraved and resolutely contemporary timepiece paying tribute to the shared heritage of goldsmiths and watchmakers. Historically, Tsuba was a small circular piece placed on Japanese swords as a guard, serving to protect the samurai's hand when the opponent's blade slipped on his sword. Today, De Bethune reinterprets it with inlaid and engraved gold animal motifs that transcend matter by infusing it with strength and light, just like the dragon perched on the clouds and stretching over the entire piece, across the dial and caseband onto the back of the watch – defied by a tiger in its role as master of the bamboo forest, symbolising power, courage, bravery and ferocity.