As De Bethune marks its 20th anniversary this year, we invite you to step behind the scenes with our co-founder and master watchmaker Denis Flageollet in Seeking Perfect, a uniquely personal film spearheaded by our friends Wei Koh and Todd Searle.
Watchmaking is often thought of as a craft bound by tradition, but among independent watchmakers, who work free of the restraints imposed by commercial luxury corporations, tradition is only the beginning of a uniquely personal journey in mechanical art. For the independents, a watch is more than a machine – it’s the physical manifestation of a constantly evolving spiritual tradition.
Denis Flageollet, who co-founded De Bethune twenty years ago, was first indoctrinated into the art of watchmaking at his father’s bench, and then went on to pursue, at De Bethune, a form of watchmaking like no other. His creations at De Bethune are often technical tours de force, but they are also expressions of a vision of watch design in which both old and new materials express their inner character in often unique and unexpected ways.
Denis finds the natural beauty of the Jura Mountains an endless source of inspiration for De Bethune watches. He has said that to understand materials, you have to know them on a visceral, physical level – that there is a grain and structure within a watchmaker’s materials which, ideally, is revealed and illuminated by the watchmaker’s art. In Seeking Perfect, we see Denis create a unique watch case in steel, beginning with rough iron ore from the earth around his atelier. At his forge, Denis transforms this raw material into a case of spectacular beauty – an example of the essence of the watchmaker’s art, in which simple substances like iron and brass become objects of both high precision, and high mechanical art.
Denis Flageollet is Seeking Perfect.
Denis Flageollet; De Bethune, Co-Founder + Master Watchmaker
Pierre Jacques; De Bethune, CEO
Victoire Halter; De Bethune, jeweler specializing in movement decoration
Wei Koh; Revolution Magazine, Founder
Todd Searle; FTS Creates
Dario Nucci; Director
Gilles Sandoz; Producer, Around Communication
Access the Seeking Perfect trailer at www.seekingperfectfilm.com
Watch the Seeking Perfect trailer today, and the full film after Sept. 2, 2022 at www.seekingperfectfilm.com
De Bethune; Co-Founder + Master Watchmaker
Denis Flageollet is one of the founders of independent watch company De Bethune, and a fourth-generation watchmaker, driven to conserve and protect traditional watchmaking crafts and values, but also to innovate and explore. Equally an artisan, historian, and expert micromechanical engineer, he has devoted his life to creating watches that strive for chronometric excellence, and impeccable aesthetics.
Denis is the son, grandson, and great-grandson of watchmakers. Having majored in science at secondary school in France, he went to Switzerland to study watchmaking and micro-engineering. He then completed his training by joining the “Musée du Locle” as a technician in antique watchmaking. In 1989 he co-founded the THA society with François-Paul Journe. During these twelve years developing THA, he set up the production workshops, handled technical management, and headed the R&D department. In 2002 he co-founded De Bethune.
He has fully embodied De Bethune’s deeply rooted philosophy of combining classic watchmaking skill and craftsmanship with a contemporary technical process, enabling him to leverage modern CAD and CNC technologies. His work with De Bethune has been rewarded by two national prizes, 15 international prizes, and is research has resulted in eight patents and two registered designs. Today, in building a training course on “Mécanique d’Art,” his aim is to pass on his experience and knowledge to watch enthusiasts and the up-and-coming generation of watchmakers.
De Bethune; CEO
If Denis Flageollet is the man responsible for inventing De Bethune’s watches, Pierre Jacques is the man who helps get them on the wrists of the globe’s most important collectors. In his second run as CEO of De Bethune, Jacques—who was born in Brussels in 1967—led the company between 2011 and 2015 before returning in 2017. Like Flageollet, Jacques developed a passion for craftsmanship during childhood, but soon found that he was much better at building businesses than objects.
Soon after moving to Geneva in 1987 to pursue his university studies in international relations, Jacques created his first company, selling school agendas to classmates. A second business followed, then a third, and before he had time to realize it, Jacques had made Geneva his home. In 2000, he focused all his energy into a new passion project and founded GMT Magazine, a quarterly focusing on watchmaking that quickly became an industry must-read. After selling the magazine in 2007, Jacques was invited to serve as director of the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). In that role, he developed a close personal relationship with Denis Flageollet, who, convinced of Jacques’s deep understanding of the luxury industry, later invited him to join the De Bethune family as CEO despite his lack of experience managing a watch manufacture. After a brief hiatus from De Bethune between 2015 and 2017, Jacques, leading a consortium of private-equity investors, returned as a majority shareholder of the company, and immediately set his sights on streamlining De Bethune’s collection without placing undue influence on Flageollet’s work.
De Bethune; jeweler specializing in movement decoration
A watchmaker’s daughter, Victoire has spent time in workshops since her childhood. Tools and materials are an integral part of her world. Having developed a passion for gems, she studied jewellery-making at a school in Paris and then trained in traditional techniques by working in a subcontracting workshop for various Maisons on the city’s famous Place Vendôme.
She subsequently returned to her hometown of Sainte-Croix to devote her skills to art mechanics. Working with master-watchmakers enables her to explore and acquire the ancestral and modern techniques specific to the decoration of components for fine watchmaking. She shapes and embellishes material, a craft that endows each piece with its unique character. In addition to the quest for aesthetic harmony, these finishes also contribute to mechanical performance, as art mechanics has always demanded aesthetic precision to ensure its constructions both run smoothly and are appropriately showcased.
Revolution Magazine; Founder
In 2005, Wei founded Revolution magazine and single-handedly revolutionized the watch media, which has never been quite the same again. He has since developed Revolution into a multi-media, omni-channel platform with international editions around the world. He is also the creator of The Rake, a magazine of sartorial elegance and craftsmanship for the modern-day gentleman. Journalist at heart and entrepreneur in spirit, his latest venture takes him to the Fari Islands in the Maldives where he has launched the first brick-and-mortar Mr & Mrs Rake boutiques and Revolution Watch Bar.
Todd Searle is a watch collector, writer, and dot connector. From G-Shock to De Bethune, his love of watches has taken him around the world (sometimes in airplanes built by hand). And his love of a good story can take him even farther than that.
Director Dario Nucci is hard to place in any single category. He’s arrived at filmmaking through a 20-year advertising career navigating the creative challenges of working on various global brands. Coming from an advertising background means Dario is interested in storytelling that creates a reaction. Over the last ten years, his hands-on approach to film production led him to take on various roles, including directing a variety of documentary, branded content, and scripted short films.
In other disciplines Dario’s visual style is extremely refined, but when it comes to film, he prefers letting the characters drive the decisions on tone, pace, and story. The result is film-making that feels genuinely interested in the characters and focuses on those little details that connect them to the viewer in an emotional and memorable way.
Producer; Around Communication
Gilles Sandoz is at the helm of AROUND. Previously the International Advertising Manager at OMEGA watches, Gilles focuses on giving life to your ideas with a global production network developed during his 15 years at OMEGA. Gilles has developed everything from short videos to long-form global campaigns. When he is not working on a production, you can find Gilles snowboarding, wake-surfing, or enjoying the beauty that Switzerland has to offer. Gilles is a graduate of Neuchâtel University with a Master of Science in International Business Development.
About De Bethune
De Bethune is an independent Swiss watch manufacturer located in L’Auberson. Up there, in the pastures of the Swiss Jura mountains, nearly 40 people – the watchmakers, engineers, designers, micro-mechanics, polishers and decorators following the lead and impetus of Denis Flageollet, founder of the brand and Master Watchmaker – focus on the research and development and realization of technical and aesthetic innovations in the spirit of the great master watchmakers of the 18th century. Tourbillons, perpetual calendars, chronometers, deadbeat seconds, spherical moons, bridges, wheels, anchors, balance wheels, pinions, balance springs and screws, but also the cases, dials, floating lugs, hands… Each component is thought-out and manufactured one by one, with particular attention given to even the smallest detail, including the decoration with the famous ‘Côtes De Bethune’ and microlight engraving that have become hallmarks. De Bethune designs, develops and manufactures all of its timepieces in-house. Since its foundation, De Bethune has developed no fewer than 30 calibers, unveiled some thirty world premieres, registered numerous patents, and produced 150 one-offs for the most discerning collectors. All over the world, De Bethune timepieces have won the highest distinctions, including the Aiguille d’Or of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for the Watch of the Year. Today, Denis Flageollet and Pierre Jacques, the company’s CEO, jointly shape the brand’s destiny. A pure style, taut lines and slim cases are part of the inimitable signature of De Bethune’s bold creations.
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