De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar Watch Hands-On
The newest member of the De Bethune DB25 Perpetual Calendar watch collection is this beautiful reference DB25QPARS8R with am 18k rose gold case and well-matched deep brown chocolate dial. According to De Bethune, this is the fifth color variation in this popular watch family which, for me, sums up many of the strengths of the brand. In short, if you want the technical and aesthetic appeal of a De Bethune on your wrist but prefer some of their more “spacey” modern sci-fi-inspired pieces, something like the DB25 case is an excellent option. This De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar, in my opinion, is a fantastic picture of both classic and modern elements – if you couldn’t tell, I just love it.
Consider the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar to be sort of the smaller brother to the more technically robust De Bethune DB16 Regulator Tourbillon (hands-on here) coming in references DB16RS1 and DB16PS2. When I wrote about the DB16 back in 2013, I was equally enamored with it for many of the same reasons – although it is a much more high-end watch. Not that either of these are anything but pure luxury watches, but the DB16 Regulator Tourbillon has a number of minor technical features which result in it being an entirely different horological animal. Also, the DB16 has the quirky/retro DB16 case, while this De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar has what is, in my opinion, a slightly more contemporary and versatile DB25 case with its skeletonized lugs. While the DB16 case is 43mm wide the DB25 is just a hair bigger at 44mm wide.
What both the DB16 and De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar share in common is the same perpetual calendar style layout on the dial. For this reason, I can understand how at first glance, people might mix up these two watches. What the DB16 adds to the dial – which the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar does not have – is a seconds hand. More so, the seconds hand on the DB16 is a “ticking” deadbeat seconds hand. They call it a “jumping” seconds hand, a complication which is starting to become en vogue by more mainstream luxury brands as well as fellow niche brands. Jaquet Droz (part of the Swatch Group) for example recently announced its Grande Seconde Deadbeat watch.
The movement inside of the DB16 is the in-house made caliber DB2509 (click here for cool schematic) and the movement inside of De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar is the De Bethune caliber DB2324 (click here for schematic). The movements share much of the same calendar module but otherwise are very different. The more complicated DB2509 in the DB16 is made of 499 parts and is a manually-wound 5Hz (36,000 bph) frequency 30-second tourbillon with a silicon and white gold balance wheel, and tourbillon cage in titanium with silicon. It has a power reserve of four days and includes a power reserve indicator on the “Star Trek-inspired” movement back. It is a powerhouse design for seriously passionate (and well-funded) watch lovers, with a price close to $400,000.
De Bethune lowers that price and level of complexity with the probably better-for-daily-wear caliber DB2324 (DB2324QP) in this De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar. Here, we have a 420 piece automatic movement with a balance wheel made of titanium with platinum tips operating at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 bph) with a power reserve of 5 days. As the movement is an automatic, De Bethune didn’t see the need to include a power reserve indicator. The automatic rotor is produced from titanium with a platinum weight. While very cool looking, the DB2324 movement doesn’t quite have the super “wow” factor of the more complicated caliber DB2509 – but it still blows a lot of other movements out of the water, and I love the blued metal parts.
On the dial of the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar watch you have a face which is very much inspired by enamel-dialed pocket watches of old with their various layers and rounded surfaces. This is about as close to real horological retro design as you’ll see from De Bethune. What I like is that their execution of this dial also feels modern and is surprisingly legible. The amount of intense tweaking De Bethune goes through before releasing new watches is part of this process to help ensure all the textures and finishes are correct. For example, even though the hands on the dial are polished, they don’t reflect light in a way that makes them illegible sometimes. Also, notice how the hands bend down to the dial? That is another classically-inspired detail which is part of proper legibility.
To solidify the “antique pocket watch-inspired” appeal of the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar face, just look at the design of the Roman numeral hour markers and adjacent minute track. In this DB25QPARS8R, the deep brown dial has a lovely engraved texture which, in my opinion, looks so nice with the 18k rose gold case and dial elements. More so, the perpetual calendar information is laid out in a perfectly symmetrical and uncluttered manner on the dial of the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar.
De Bethune offers a full perpetual calendar layout with spherical moon phase indicator on the dial of the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar. The spherical moon phase indicator is a trademark De Bethune complication which uses a small sphere (versus disc) to indicate the phase of the moon on the dial. In this case, the moon is set against a small starry sky scene which is produced from mirror polished steel with small gold “stars.” The moon phase sphere itself is in “blackened zirconium and palladium.” There is a small window under the moon phase indicator sphere which actually serves as a leap year indicator (it changes color on a leap year – and unless you know what you are looking for, I agree it is hard to understand the window’s purpose).
The calendar data is displayed via a subsidiary subdial for the date over six o’clock and windows for the day of the week and the month that sit opposite one another. These windows were designed with the lighter dial colors of other De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar watches, and it is true the white color contrasts a bit with the deeper color of the face. That doesn’t actually bother me, because it makes the windows more legible, but in a perfect world, De Bethune might have made the discs a matching brownish-metallic color.
At 44mm wide and just 11.20mm thick, the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar sits very comfortably on the wrist. The shorter lugs allow for the case to fit on wrist many sizes, and the black alligator strap is smoothly supple and fits snugly on your arm. Yes, in many ways, the DB25 is a dressier look – especially in this perpetual calendar form, but I still think that a serious watch person could pull off the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar – especially with the darker dial options such as this model in more casual situations. Actually, when it comes to De Bethune, you don’t need to “match” these watches with anything. In my opinion, vividly beautiful and interesting watches like this go with anything, because the statement they make is so much louder than simply being something you are “wearing.”
Given that I’ve said “this is the perfect De Bethune” watch on several occasions thus far when writing about the brand over the years, I’ll just throw the De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar on my growing list of “loved” De Bethune models. The company is one of my favorites in the niche luxury watch space for mixing design, mechanics that make sense, exclusivity, and a zero bullshit marketing factor that speaks to me as a collector and consumer. In fact, most of the cool things De Bethune comes out with, they almost downplay – waiting for skilled journalists and collectors to discover them for themselves. This is in contrast to most other companies that often make huge deals out of news or innovations that are really minor. The De Bethune DB25QP Perpetual Calendar ref. DB25QPARS8R has a retail price of 126,500 Swiss Francs. debethune.ch