De Bethune was founded in 2002 by Denis Flageollet, a fourth-generation watchmaker, and David Zanetta, a specialist in antique watches and clocks and an adviser for collectors. Like Michel Parmigiani, Flageollet gained a vast heritage of skill from his work restoring antique timepieces, in this case at the Le Locle watch museum. The two worked together, with Flageollet directing technical aspects and David Zanetta masterminding design. Their fundamental mission was to create fine watches, with no regard for cost, entirely hand-made in-house.
The brand name comes from Chevalier de Bethune, a French nobleman who invented an escapement for pocket watches and clocks in 1727, and the company takes inspiration from historical watchmaking, though adding a lot of contemporary and original features. In 2011, Pierre Jacques joined the company as CEO, giving the brand a more highly-developed marketing and commercial structure. On 4 October 2015, he announced that he would be leaving De Bethune at the end of 2015,, declaring that “it is time for me to look at new challenges and horizons.”
De Bethune has about 60 employees and makes about 350 watches per year, with prices ranging from about €35,000 to over €400,000. Up until now they have designed 19 calibres and registered 10 patents. Characteristic features include the fact that a large proportion of their watches do not have the brand name on the dial. De Bethune watches have an instantly recognizable design language, with sculpted, multi-level dials, hands that are different in every model, floating lugs for wearer comfort, looks ranging from classical to sci-fi, and an approach to detail that makes them very much a couture watch enterprise.
CH-1454 La Chaux L’Auberson
Tel. +41 24 455 26 00
Place Longemalle 1
Tel: +41 22 311 22 80
Denis Flageollet, co-founder, watchmaker
David Zanetta, co-founder, designer
Pierre Jacquesd, CEO