De Bethune has gone far, far beyond having your name engraved on the caseback when it comes to watch personalisation

Owning a De Bethune watch is truly a singular experience in every sense of the word. In its quest for perfection, the independent Swiss watchmaker in Jura recently introduced the Sensoriel Chronometry Project that aims to tailor your watch according to your lifestyle, taking into account everything from your daily routine to the humidity level in your home.

Earlier this year, De Bethune, which is distributed exclusively by The Hour Glass in Malaysia, presented an intriguing proposition in the form of the DB25 Starry Varius Aérolite in which customer can customise the blue meteorite dial with a precise sky map (constellation) at a specific time, date, and place. Tiny white gold pins in different shapes and sizes are used to create the constellation on the dial. One of the owners of the watch, which is limited to five pieces a year, is a pet lover and requested that the constellation reflected his dog's birthdate!

See also: 8 Under-The-Radar Independent Watchmakers You Should Know

But the Sensoriel Chronometry Project is taking the notion of personalisation to a whole new level. "When you want a suit that fits you perfectly, you go to a tailor. It's the same thinking here," says Pierre Jacques, CEO of De Bethune. "Co-founder and master watchmaker Denis Flageollet is someone who always strives for perfection, a watch that suits the wearer perfectly."

See also: Urwerk’s Felix Baumgartner on the Joy of Independent Watchmaking

Chronometric precision is also dependent on the wearer's behaviour and environment. A watch generally leaves the manufacture without taking these into account. "To be as precise as possible, the watch has to be tailor-made for every individual according to their lifestyle and routine," notes Jacques. "It even takes into consideration the temperature and humidity, which differ from country to country."

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A test watch to track daily activities and wearing conditions
Above A test watch to track daily activities and wearing conditions

Through this project, a first in the watch industry, the customer will be given a test watch to wear for two weeks. During this period, the watch will track the wearer's daily activities and collect the necessary data. These are transmitted to a robot arm inside an atmospheric chamber in its L’Auberson manufacture, to recreate the wearer's movements in their specific environment.

This helps the watchmaker to make the necessary chronometric adjustment unique to the wearer. The result is a watch that is truly made for you and you only.

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A robotic arm was specially built to replicate the wearer's movements
Above A robot arm was specially built to replicate the wearer's movements

Jacques insists this project did not come about because of client feedback. "Rather, Denis knew that there's only so much he can do to make the balance (wheel) better. This was motivated by his determination to push the limits, to make the watch a little bit more precise, a little better."

Out-of-the-box thinking like this is built into the DNA of an independent watchmaker like De Bethune. It has served it well. "A few years ago, we could hardly sell 30 pieces. Now we can easily sell 1,000 pieces but we only have the capacity to make 200 pieces a year," he notes.

He attributes the unprecedented demand for its watches to a growing post-Covid interest in independent watches, with social media being a key driver. "During lockdown, social media exploded and people had more time to do their research. They were also looking for alternatives (to the big boys)." 

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DB Kind of Two Jumping GMT has two dials, each displaying a different time zone
Above A showcase of De Bethune's inventiveness, the DB Kind of Two Jumping GMT has two dials, each displaying a different time zone
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DB Kind of Two Jumping GMT's
Above The second face of DB Kind of Two Jumping GMT
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