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Breaking News: Ailing De Bethune Gets Lifeline with New Owners

With former CEO Pierre Jacques back in charge.

Responsible for some of the most striking and imaginative creations in contemporary watchmaking, De Bethune nonetheless found the going hard in the last few years. Rumours of two investors competing to rescue the brand have been circulating for some months, and now one has clinched the prize in a deal sealed almost exactly a week ago. New owners will take control of the brand, which is best known for its extraordinary looking watches in blued titanium.

After fellow independent brands MCT and Delaneau went under earlier this year, the chances of De Bethune being next were substantial. De Bethune’s future, at least in the short and medium term – the long term is never certain for niche independent brands – is secure thanks to an injection of capital from a consortium led by De Bethune’s former chief executive.

Formerly the manager of a Geneva watch retailer and also president of MCT, Jacques was running De Bethune from 2010 to 2015. He will be in charge once again, with the new owners being represented by Giovanni Perin, a Swiss financier who was formerly the chief investment officer of a Saudi-backed family office and is now a partner at private equity outfit Threestones Capital.

De Bethune Pierre Jacques Perin 2017

While both Jacques and De Bethune’s resident watchmaking genius Denis Flageollet will have minority stakes in De Bethune, the brand’s co-founder and former driver force, Italian watch aficionado and dealer David Zanetta, will part ways with De Bethune.

Zanetta is a contemporary of Antiquorum founder Osvaldo Patrizzi, and like many of his generation possessed of a keen eye for a diverse variety of watches and clocks ranging from pocket watches of Antide Javier and 1930s Cartier wristwatches. It remains to be seen if De Bethune will retain its inimitable style.

And the other salient point is precedent: many a wealthy and well-advised investor has tried and failed to succeed in independent watchmaker.  Swiss dental implant billionaire Thomas Straumann, for instance, threw in the towel in 2012 after reportedly investing SFr100m into H. Moser & Cie and not turning a profit. Moser’s new owners, however, the Meylan family once associated with Audemars Piguet, have managed to turn it around. Perhaps De Bethune will be similarly fortunate.


 

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Bugatti’s Chiron Supercar Gets its Wristwatch Equivalent

With the Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390.

When the first Bugatti Veyron rolled off the product line in 2005 it was the fastest and perhaps the most advanced supercar in the world. That same year Parmigiani unveiled the Bugatti Type 370, a tubular wristwatch that was one of the most cutting edge watches of the period (remember, this was before the first MB&F had even been unveiled).

Just under a year ago Bugatti took the covers off the Veyron’s successor, the Chiron. Named after 1930s racing driver Louis Chiron, Bugatti’s latest supercar boasts almost 1500 bhp and a 0-60 time of 2.4 seconds. And now Parmigiani has unveiled the wristwatch to go along with the Chiron, the Bugatti Type 390, which is unsurprisingly no ordinary timepiece.

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390 Chiron watch 4

The Chiron outside Château Saint Jean in Molsheim, once Ettore Bugatti’s office and now the company’s headquarters

First hinted at with an angular concept watch presented last year, the Bugatti Type 390 has since been refined and streamlined, giving it a slimmer, sleeker profile. The case measures 42.2mm wide and 57.7mm long, and is 18.4mm high at its thickest point.

The Bugatti Type 390 combines the movements of the two earlier Bugatti timepieces: the tubular, transverse movement of the first Bugatti timepiece, and the wing-shaped calibre of the subsequent Bugatti Super Sport watch.

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390 Chiron watch 5

Sitting horizontally at 12 o’clock, the transverse section of the new calibre contains the twin barrels as well as a flying tourbillon visible through a porthole on the left side of the watch. A large crown on the right winds the watch, which has an 80-hour power reserve

Parmigiani Bugatti PF390

The one-minute tourbillon

The gear train is set perpendicular to the barrels, requiring a worm screw to transfer energy from the mainsprings to the gear train. This allows the open-worked dial of the watch to sit on the sloping face that resembles the wing which deploys when the Chiron brakes.

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390 Chiron watch 2

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390 Chiron watch 3

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 390 Chiron watch 6

As notable as the movement construction is the case, which pivots through a 12° angle, to allow it to sit better on the wrist.

Price and availability 

The Bugatti Type 390 is limited to 10 pieces each in rose and white gold. According to Parmigiani, delivery will take place over the coming weeks, and most have already been pre-sold.

The Bugatti Type 390 costs SFr295,000 or S$485,700.


 

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Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato 42mm Black Ceramic

Handsomely monochromatic in brushed and polished ceramic.

It is almost an article of faith that every watchmaker with a luxury sports watch needs something in ceramic, and so it is that Girard-Perregaux is now making its signature Laureato in the scratch-resistant material.

Designed in the 1970s by Milanese architect whose name is now forgotten, the Laureato was Girard-Perregaux’s response to the success of luxury sports watches like the Royal Oak and Nautilus. Its signature feature is the octagonal bezel set against a circle, which gives it a familiar feel yet leaves it reasonably original.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato ceramic 1

Appealingly monochromatic, the Laureato in black ceramic is 42mm in diameter and 10.9mm high. The ceramic is almost entirely brushed, except for the round base of the bezel and central links of the bracelet.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato ceramic 2

Like the steel or gold versions of the Laureato, the ceramic model has a clous de Paris, or hobnail, guilloche dial, along with sword-shaped hands and indices.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato ceramic 3

But unlike the other Laureato models, the ceramic version has a grey tinted sapphire back, though the movement inside is the same cal. GP01800-0025. It’s an in-house automatic with a 54-hour power reserve.

Price and availability

The Laureato 42mm Ceramic (ref. 81010-32-631-32A) is priced at SFr16,300 inclusive of 8% Swiss tax.


 

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