New Watch! • 15 Nov 2018

Talismanic Timepieces – De Bethune’s Maestri’ Art Collection

by Tijana Trifunovich


It could be said that each of De Bethune’s timepieces are charged with a certain celestial energy.  A boundless fascination with all things astronomy has fuelled the relatively young watchmaker’s exploration of space through their avant-garde horological designs. Watches like the Starry Varius and Dream Watch 5 are two adventurous facets of the universe that Denis Flageollet, De Bethune’s Co-founder and creative force has explored in his quest to understand the secrets of the celestial world.

The embodiment of tradition and history, the Art 1 draws inspiration from a number of Japanese art forms.

Maestri’ Art 1

The Art 1 (pictured above) is a more elaborate take on De Bethune’s DB25. Le Locle-based master engraver Michèle Rothen Rebetez has chiselled away at the dials, making them look more like something you’d find in a museum. Contrasting the billowing clouds enveloping the dragon, there’s a set of concentric circles in the middle of the watch. It’s a decorative pattern found on most seconds subdials, however, in this context, it looks more like a Japanese Zen garden. As for the hour hands, they’re shaped like a pagoda. Now let’s get back onto the dragons.

Utagawa Toyohiro (1773–1828). Title: Lion. The Lion appears almost like a cloud, its depiction on this woodblock print is reminiscent of the swirling clouds enveloping the dragon and the lion on the Art 1 dial.

Tigers and Dragons

Tigers and dragons have featured heavily in Asiatic arts throughout the centuries. They’re auspicious because they represent power, courage and good fortune. They’re opposing animals symbolically and literally (on the dial of the Art 1) and balance each other out; tigers and dragons are associated with wind and water respectively.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Title: “Tiger and dragon”

Tsuba Inspired

The ornate beauty of the Samurai tsuba, the handguard used by the warriors to protect them from their deadly blades. Placed on the hilt of the Katana, the Tsuba were often made of intricately wrought and decorated cast iron, steel, or brass, featuring gold-painted symbolism specific to the Samurai and the textured patina that Japanese art embraces.

Combining the alligator leather straps, gold motifs and dark alloy case, the Art 1 is a katana for the modern-day warrior’s battles with time. The rich diversity of art forms and symbolism referenced within the piece anchor the wearer to Asian history and tradition – uncommon for a watch made in a region that is geographically far away from its inspiration.

Ohara Koson, Matsuki Heikichi (1900/1930). Title: Opspringende karper. Rijks Museum

Mestri’ Art 2

A take on a DB28 body, the Mastri’ Art 2 is a model that speaks of modernity and movement.  Its’ artistic style is emblematic of Japanese papers and paintings, loosely tracing the forms of monumental artworks like those of Hokusai. Like the handmade Japanese papers used in crafts, the gold-speckled background of the Art 2 is a textured canvas that supports the images on it without being distracting. Its starry effect pops against the blue.

More minimal than ornate, the Maestri’ 2 is a watch with quiet and calm strength. Its De Bethune blue titanium face carries a different message to that of its’ companion; one of transformation through time. The carp (know as the Koi in Japanese) is renowned throughout Asia as a creature with exceptional courage, perseverance, and ferocity. Often depicted swimming upstream in a fight against the current, it symbolises the determination to defeat life’s struggles and attain goals.

A Chinese legend tells the tale of the carp who conquer this battle with the river,  transforming into koi dragons in the process. A creature that can soar to infinite heights, the koi dragon brings together air and water, gaining wisdom through its’ struggles, creating its’ own luck and good fortune by learning the secrets of the divine realms.

Like meaningful pieces of jewellery, artisanal watches have a special relationship with the owner. The Maestri’ 1 and 2 fit this category, and their layered messages make them talismans in their own right. And like the recently awarded DB25 Starry Varius Chronomètre Tourbillon, De Bethune consistently shows its ability in making advanced watches but doing it in a way that pays tribute to artistic crafts and traditions.

De Bethune is exclusive to The Hour Glass in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia. You’re more than welcome to stop by one of our boutiques, say hi, and share in our passion for De Bethune. We’d absolutely love to guide you in your watch collecting journey. Have a question? Drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you.


Tijana Trifunovich

Tijana likes telling stories centred on art, design and science. With a background in Industrial Design, her creative and technical mindset makes for unique commentary on watches and the broader world of watchmaking.


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