De Bethune presents the DW5 Armilia, a unique piece from its Maestri’art collection.
To create this extraordinary timepiece, De Bethune has drawn inspiration from the graphic novel series The Obscure Cities by the Belgian designer and scenographer François Schuiten and his friend, writer Benoît Peeters.
Background of this novel series is a parallel universe in which humans are often left to their own devices – even though reality is never very far away – this imaginary world is composed of enigmas and mysteries. Through shadows and unusual reflections of our world subject to the principle of worrying strangeness, the authors of The Obscure Cities usher their readers into spectacularly extravagant settings while maintaining a distinctly human approach.
Within this retro-futuristic aesthetic free of any nostalgia, the stunning architecture, imaginary cartography, and oft heavy and imposing machines together constitute the driving elements of plots where science and engineering mingle with fantasy.
It is precisely in the context of this rich and extraordinary universe that De Bethune has taken an interest in Armilia: a submerged, almost entirely underground city. It is in this remote place in the far North of the imaginary Continent that the control of Time is handled, a concept oddly mingling chronology and climate disruptions.
De Bethune observes the exchanges permitted between the real world and the world of The Obscure Cities, recognizing that time does not have the same value in this parallel world. Raising the question of perfect and imperfect time, exploring this “white zone” of the work’s nonetheless incredibly rich universe, De Bethune has imagined a time measurement object, a watch directly inspired by the depiction of Armilia and its universe.
Breaking free of scales and proportions, Denis Flageollet, De Bethune co-founder and Master Watchmaker, and passionate about The Obscure Cities, has imagined a wrist-sized sculpture, engraved as a direct reference to a drawing of the City of Armilia.
Reflecting similar gestures, a dialogue was established between Schuiten’s pen & ink drawings and renowned Swiss engraver Michelle Roten, whose talents were enlisted for this particular project. The structure of the watch thus comes to life or rather creates a reflection of Armilia’s imaginary world, as if the watch were a ship setting out to explore this world. Bearing in mind the idea of achieving a depiction similar to the original drawings, it is no coincidence that De Bethune chose 18K pink gold. The warm colour of the precious metal recalls the equally warm colours characterising the drawings of the city at sunset.
With Armilia, De Bethune has created a fascinating work that it is placing like a landmark on the frontier between art and watchmaking. The watch testifies to a vision of unbridled creativity while remaining based on profound understanding and respect for the great master watchmakers of the past, whose work it transcends and magnifies.
Armilia is the result of extreme miniaturisation of its mechanism, entirely dedicated to design, of which time is only one element. A De Bethune interpretation appearing as a nod or a signature, a small two-coloured sphere indicates the moon phases. Composed of two assembled and polished blued steel and palladium half-spheres, it guides the eye towards the digital and minimalist display of the hours and minutes. All this is visible through a hand-cut cabochon-shaped tempered glass providing a chance to get a better view of this mechanism that counts off time.
Model: Maestri’Art DW5 Armilia
Hours, Minutes, Spherical moon-phase indication
Type: Mechanical hand-wound movement
Adjustment: Spherical moon-phase adjustment and setting the time by means of the crown, adorned by 1 carat sapphire (3 positions)
Number of parts: 320
Jewelling: 32 jewels
Diameter: 30 mm
Power reserve: 5 days, ensured by a self-regulating twin barrel – De Bethune Innovation (2004)
Silicon annular balance encircled by a white gold ring – De Bethune Patent (2010)
“De Bethune” balance-spring with flat terminal curve – De Bethune Patent (2006)
Silicon escape wheel
Spherical moon-phase indication with accuracy of one lunar day every 1112 years – De Bethune Patent (2004)
Frequency: 28’800 vibrations per hour
Adornment: Hand-crafted finishing and decoration
Display: Jumping-hour aperture at 3 o’clock
Analogue minutes indicator on a dragging rotating disc
Spherical moon-phase indication in palladium and flamed blued steel with an accuracy of one lunar day every 1112 years at 6 o’clock – De Bethune Patent (2004)
Frame of the jumping-hour aperture in blued grade 5 titanium
Case material: Delta shaped in polished rose gold 18K
Case diameter: length 58 mm – width 47 mm
Case thickness: 16 mm
Crystal: curved Hard-mineral crystal cut by hand
Case back: Closed and screwed down case back in black titanium with aperture on balance wheel; Hard-mineral crystal (1800 Vickers hardness)with double anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 3 ATM
Extra-supple alligator leather, alligator lining
Buckle: Pin in rose gold and buckle in black titanium