Quetzalcoatl is a composite name in the Nahuatl language derived from 'quetzalli' and used to describe the large, precious green feathers of the sacred quetzal bird; and 'coatl', meaning snake. It is one of the main divinities of the Mesoamerican civilizations and the feathered serpent, its most iconic incarnation, reigned for many long centuries over pre-Columbian America. This powerful symbol of Mesoamerican culture was the core of worship and sacred rituals. The related myths and legends appear in the writings of the colonial period. In conjunction with the evening star, it was considered to govern the cycle of time from dawn to dusk. This deity of the summer winds was naturally closely associated with agriculture and in particular with corn farming, as well as being the sovereign protector of goldsmiths and artisans, and the inventor of the calendar. This time De Bethune decided to wow everyone with this Baselworld 2015 release in the DB25 18K white gold case measuring 44 mm in diameter by 12.50 in thickness.
Stemming from an age-old tradition of artistic crafts and engraving, the solid gold dial of the DB25 Quetzalcoatl, exquisitely fashioned by the gifted engraver Michelle Rothen —based on drawings by David Zanetta— is a natural continuation of the brand founders’ research and exploration. Above and beyond fine craftsmanship and the exercise in style, the ultimate aim is to enable owners to wear on their wrist a portion of the history of humankind, steeped in legends, emotions and universal culture. The solid gold hand-engraved dial by Michèle Rothen is composed of two parts. The first one features the hours ring with figures inspired by buildings from Tenochtitlan's Templo Mayor —ruins located next to Mexico City's cathedral — and a central part with De Bethune microlight guilloché. The hands also in solid gold are formed by the hand-engraved feathered snake Quetzalcoatl who changes position to tell time. The snake’s head shows the hours and the tail of the snake indicates the minutes. A big temple equals five, therefore two big temples plus small temples —equaling one— are located at 10, 11 and 12 o'clock.
The symbolic unity around Quetzalcoatl, formed by the sculpted solid gold hands, takes on an almost mystical aura and enlivens the heart of the dial that constantly evolves in tune with the passing of time. The latter is read off by the tip of the serpent’s head, while its tail indicates the minutes.
Quetzalcoatl appears coiled in the center of the model in varying positions in step with the ever-changing times of day. This fascinating vision, magnified by the microlight finishing on the dial center, endows this creation with exceptional depth and mystery.
The aesthetic construction gives pride of place to an element that is steadily becoming the unmistakable hallmark of the Manufacture: research on materials and the way light reflects off their finishes —at time radiantly glowing like the circular guilloché motif on the central part; and at others matte, such as the soft patina on the hour indicators formed by a series of temples viewed from the sky.
Nothing escapes the keen eye of David Zanetta; nothing is too slender, too subtle or too elaborate in this bold endeavor to reproduce several centuries of history within the modest few square centimeters available on the dial. This historical dimension is clearly perceptible thanks to an unusual perspective that provides an aerial view of the ruins of the Aztec temples from the city of Tenochtitlan. This highly personal vision of the archaeological site naturally leads one to step back and adopt a certain observation distance imposed by the higher vantage point.
Visible via the display case back, the manual wound De Bethune calibre DB2005 with 173 parts, 27 jewels and which provides a power reserve of 6 days when fully wound. This exceptional calibre features various finishes including the mirror-polished bridges adorned with De Bethune decorations highlighting the silicon heart of the patented annual balance of Calibre DB2005, alongside a number of innovations and patents from the Manufacture. This movement beating at a frequency 28,800 vph is equipped with a self-regulating twin barrel, the famous triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system protecting the regulating organ, a silicon escape-wheel and a balance-spring with flat terminal curve ensuring optimal concentric development. Additionally, one more temple is located on the back at the top of the movement, while the unique number for each piece appears at the bottom.
While some will see it as a model bearing the effigy of a Mesoamerican culture in pre-Columbian America and others will be touched by the symbolism of Quetzalcoatl, all will admire the meticulous care and detail devoted to the engraving. This benevolent deity that has given rise to countless legends and sacred myths is more relevant than ever in the present age.
Symbolizing the union of body and mind —by associating Earth represented by the serpent and the Sky depicted by the feathers— it interprets an eminently contemporary theme that will take on its full meaning on the wrist of a few enlightened connoisseurs. The watch is fitted with a beautiful dark brown alligator strap with highly polished buckle.
On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size and with somewhat of a mystical wrist presence. The De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl is available in a limited edition of 20 pieces.
Sticker Price $120,000 USD. For more info on De Bethune click here.