Their white pants tucked into fashionable brown leather boots and uniforms finished atop by a dapper plaid pith helmets, belies the true danger and violence that a Polo player might be facing on the field.
It is not only the whirling bamboo mallets which pose a threat that cause some players to wear elbow and knee armor, but the charge of other players whom are also on galloping ponies and a hardened ball propelled at speeds said to sometimes exceed 100mph. This gentleman’s game is not without risk!
When one thinks of the garb adorning and protecting these intrepid sportsman, the first watch that often jumps to mind is, the JLC Reverso. Designed in 1931 for just this game, the parachute shock system and ability to pivot the stainless steel back so it is facing outward while riding, presented players with their first option to withstand the abuse almost certain to be faced down as competition ensued.
When DeBethune decided to hold a championship match with the Princely Polo Cup members, it did not satisfy legendary designers Zanetta and Flageollet to create a watch that would be viewed at the end of the six chukkas of action. They sought to create and incredibly durable mechanical watch that would stand up to the rigors of the day and tell the player the time during the match. It was time to bring twenty first century technology to the ancient Persian game of Polo.
To that end, there were some challenges. They knew steel had been fashioned to such critical tasks from before the dawn of the game, but to make it even harder a special chemical process that includes a carbon based DLC (diamond like coating) would convert the chunky Digitale it was applied to upward of an incredible resistance of 5000 Vickers! (nearly 4000 vickers harder than regular stainless steel!)
Many a De Bethune salesman has later shown its resistance to scratching with alarming demonstrations to scratch it with keys, table top knocks and other jarring displays of nonchalance -which make the watch connoisseur twist in their seats when observing or even wince a bit.
Small re-enforced sapphire openings would also lend 1800 vickers to the portals of the jumping hour and the 9-to-3 arched minute dial. Even the articulated lugs that De Bethune was often associated with, would be made stronger by coating. Notably even the iconic De Bethune crown is shielded by being mounted at twelve o’clock on the watch rather then the typical three o’clock position.
The threats of shock are addressed in a multitude of ways as well. The piece includes a triple parachute escapement to suspend the ultra light silicon & white gold balance wheel inside. This self winding watch also contains a special titanium-platinum oscillating weight and three hundred and fifty other custom designed parts within the flying-saucer shaped tomb.
Don’t imagine it to be boring, this nicely curved sculpture is also punctuated in the middle with an engraved gold emblem of two iconic polo hammers seated in a blued titanium ring. The tightness of fitment of the various elements can not be overstated as is obvious when running one’s finger over the smooth surface.
While only ten of these incredibly specialized watches were ever made, one may still take the opportunity further to have a custom engraved emblem placed on the center -or a panoply of other custom colors and adornments for various elements. A team crest or a family coat of arms would easily provide a visual focal point that enhances the already mesmerizing top of this discus volante.
This watch is a sports watch by all means, but a luxury sports watch in a way that quite few other manufacturers have ever achieved! The finishing is every bit as special and extensive as any watch done by this standout team of watch makers. You will find yourself drawn in by the details after first being surprised by the apparent simplicity of the timepiece. It is apparent no lack of attention was given to any component or treatment in this piece.
This watch can include, for the next lucky owner, our guidance in working with the company on any of the embellishments if desired. Upon request it can include the sharing of plans of another owner who went as far as having CAD files drawn up to make his piece unique. De Bethune welcomes not just the collector of rare watches into their family, but especially the watch fanatic!
Now, with the addition of a new cadre of new investors, the company of De Bethune is seeing a re-birth and we can only state by strong opinion these craftsmen are poised to thrive going forward. It is our belief that at a time in the not-distant future, this will be seen as an extremely rare and under appreciated classic that only can happens when highly skilled dreamers dive into a project head-first and head-on. Our offering of this watch including original box, strap, buckle and papers nears the edge of one half its original retail price.
Case: DLC carbon coated hardened steel, 43mm
Power Reserve: 5 day
Movement: automatic Calibre S233D, Digitale, jumping hours, special shock resistant design and materials.
Includes: watch, box, buckle strap, papers, custom travel case.
Specialists Notes: One of ten sold-out pieces ever made.
De Bethune was founded in 2002 by David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet. Zanetta brought his perspective as a passionate enthusiast of history and a collector of art and watches. Flageollet brought an immense talent as a 4th generation watchmaker.