Built in ancient China in the mid-1700s, the Imperial Fountain situated in the Palace of Calm Seas, the “Yuanming Yuan”, was a symbolic gift crafted by artisans from France, Italy and China for then Chinese emperor Qianlong.

The Yuanming Yuan was a majestic work that fused art and technology, performing the function of a large hydraulic water-clock or clepsydra, where the water jets from the indices marked by one Chinese Zodiac animal would tell the time.

The Hour Glass De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain timepieces DECOR SNAKE

While time has left the Yuanming Yuan in ruins with only seven of the 12 original Zodiac heads recorded, De Bethune has received inspiration from this beautiful structure in its special edition DB25 Imperial Fountain timepieces (pictured above). The DB25 Imperial Fountain watch collection comprises a set of 12 timepieces each featuring the engraved head of a Zodiac animal.

The making of the DB25 Imperial Fountain watch commands expert craftsmanship from master artist Michèle Rothen, who has used a special bas relief engraving technique to carve out the detail of each Zodiac animal head in the middle of the watch dial, against a Grand Feu enamel relief of the corresponding Zodiac symbol in the background.

The Hour Glass De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain timepieces DECOR DRAGONThe Hour Glass De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain timepieces DECOR BEAR
Details of the Dragon and Bear versions of the De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain watches

The unique dial of the DB25 Imperial Fountain watch takes up the available space traditionally reserved for the watch movement. As a result, the De Bethune team has to come up with a completely new Calibre DB2145 watch movement that uses peripheral hour and minute hands to encircle the Zodiac head instead. This radical design demands the design of new techniques including the use of micro ball bearings and a new transmission system for the revolving discs, together with De Bethune’s trademark Silicon/white gold balance system and its patented triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system.

Unveiled to the world at Basel World 2013, the special 12-piece De Bethune DB25 Imperial Fountain watch collection is a spectacular fusion of art and technology with the rich heritage and history of ancient China.

A special collaboration with The Hour Glass, the DB25 Imperial Fountain watch collection is exclusively available at The Hour Glass boutiques, including boutiques at Takashimaya S.C. #01-02, Tel: 6734 2420 and Millenia Walk #01-27, Tel: 6339 4870. For more information about De Bethune’s watch collections, go to www.debethune.ch. You can follow De Bethune on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DeBethuneTimepieces, or on Twitter at @DeBethune.