1 of 50 De Bethune DB24 Vetrois LE
Despite looking like it belongs on the wrist of one of Darth Vader’s upper-level henchmen, what we have here is basically a time-only DB from the earlier years. Intended to be a successor to the DB20 and 22 sports line, the 24 introduced a new case shape that is tangent to madness: 48mm with 200m water resistance, angular facets, reveals, material innovation, finish contrast, flared lugs, and a design sense all its own. This is an early ideation of what a sport watch from DB could have been if only the category were popular then. However, DB have never been one to leave complication alone, even back in 2008. This watch looks like it has a trick up its sleeve, and it does.
I don’t mean full grade 5 titanium construction. I don’t mean the slightly obscured power reserve at 12. I don’t even mean the fired blue and media blasted titanium bezel. No, what is unconventional here is the winding mechanism. If you pull the crown out, one of the stops along the way engages a system which allows its wearer to choose the winding efficiency of the watch. That’s right: a selectable low efficiency to minimize wear and tear on the patented twin self-adjusting barrels and winding mechanism for those with active lifestyles, a middle ground, and high efficiency for those whose idea of sport is crumpled Excel spreadsheet printout free throws into the nearest bin. But there’s a lot more going on: platinum mass rotor, shock protected balance bridge, and dual-element hairspring. That’s an excess of engineering for a mere three hander which I am only too entertained by.
This was all well before Richard Mille’s RM030 declutchable rotor and torque sensor innovation in 2011, what I consider to be one of the least obnoxious RMs (though that’s a bit like having an award for the most beautiful gangrenous wound). The very concept of winding a reserve at a rate made to match a wearer’s lifestyle is kind of charming to me; this is a watch which takes you into consideration. Perhaps I am too romantic about horology (if you’re not new here you know this to be the case), but I find the delight of this entire eccentric package the fact that it adapts to be a part of your life. Not strictly necessary, but very charming.
This example shows light surface wear but is otherwise is without fault. The space age movement has not a screw out of place. It comes with an original box from a well-regarded London retailer.
Find this DB24 Vetrois here from Subdial for 45275 GBP.