De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl, beware of the snake – Hands-on (live photos, specs price)
De Bethune is used to create some of the most futuristic watches around. Take a look at the De Bethune DB28 Dark Shadows or at the De Bethune Dream Watch Black and you’ll easily see our point here. As futuristic is the design (of both the cases, dials but also the movements), mechanically we’re in front of pure classical high-end horology. One of the latest creation of the brand takes these roots back on stage and mixes them with a pre-Columbian inspiration, a Mesoamerican deity depicting a feathered serpent. Beware of the snake, here is the De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl.
‘Quetzalcoatl is a composite name in the Nahuatl language (language of the Nahua peoples of Mexico and Central America) derived from quetzalli and used to describe the large, precious green feathers of the sacred quetzal bird; and coatl, meaning snake. It is one of the main divinities of the Mesoamerican civilisations and the feathered serpent, its most iconic incarnation, reigned for many long centuries over pre-Columbian America. This powerful symbol of Mesoamerican culture was the core of worship and sacred rituals. The related myths and legends appear in the writings of the colonial period. In conjunction with the evening star, it was considered to govern the cycle of time from dawn to dusk. This deity of the summer winds was naturally closely associated with agriculture and in particular with corn farming, as well as being the sovereign protector of goldsmiths and artisans, and the inventor of the calendar.’
The representation by De Bethune of this deity appears in the shape of a feathered serpent coiled in the middle of the dial. The De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl might look strange, time reading is usual, with two hands and 12 indexes. The feathered head of the Quetzalcoatl shows the hours while its tail indicates the minutes, classically, like two normal hands. Both hands are made from solid gold, extremely precisely and finely hand-engraved by master engraver Michèle Rothen. The move of the snake remains slow – hopefully because, believe us, when you’re adjusting the time, you’d better not be afraid of serpents.
The dial is made of two parts, also hand engraved into solid gold. The middle comes with De Bethune microlight guilloché (concentric circles obtained by engine-turning). Around it sits an hours ring with figures that provides an aerial view of the ruins of the Aztec temples from the city of Tenochtitlan. While the hands are shining and the center part is radiantly glowing, this engraved ring is matt finished and then patinated, giving an impressive antique and warm tone to the dial, in order to emphasize the depth of the figures. This dial might indicate time, it also tells a story.
For the rest, De Bethune stays faithful to the shape and technical specifications of other DB25 watches. The 44mm case is here made of white gold and remains unique on its own, with a drum-shaped central case and hollowed lugs. The De Bethune DB25 (Quetzalcoatl or not) is a more elegant watch that its size supposed. It remains delicate and rather slim on the wrist. The (almost) absence of bezel and the light lugs participate a lot to this visual sensation.
Behind the sapphire caseback sits Calibre DB2005. The first thing that comes to the eyes of the initiates is the impressive level of finish, with black polished flat surfaces on the main plate and bridges. Then, comes the futuristic shape of the main bridge that holds the self-regulating twin barrel (that ensures 6-day of power reserve). It is finished with De Bethune stripes and polished bevelled angles and polished slots for the rubies (by hand). Finally, there is this special full balance wheel, with a silicon escape-wheel and a balance-spring with flat terminal curve. The regulating organ is hold by a cross-over bridge, also mirror polished and with a round shape – something that can only be achieved by a trained hand. This movement, with its clean and unusual layout, is recognizable among every others and is still a pleasure for our eyes.
The De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl won’t be an easy watch on a daily basis for sure but the engraving work done on the hands and the dial is really impressive and elegant. It has this unique aura that only De Bethune can do. This watch will be made in 20 pieces only and priced at 110.000 Swiss Francs (before taxes). More on De Bethune official website.