De Bethune and HG Timepiece

De Bethune and HG Timepiece have unveiled their unique collaboration themed around the iconic Hourglass by Marc Newson.

HG Timepiece – a Swiss company which develops and sells the designer’s timekeeping art objects – had for several years been looking for a technique to blue the nanoballs in his Hourglass. As there are no pure blue metals, it is not possible to plate the nanoballs with this colour, so it was a challenge to overcome. Moreover, the nanoballs’ microscopic size (0.60mm), as well as perfecting the blue colour coverage and its resistance to wear, were the other major obstacles to achieving this processing technique.

Each colour corresponds to a different type of energy. At De Bethune, the blue carries a broad and deep meaning. Evoking water, sky and space all at once, it is envisaged by Denis Flageollet as a luminous vibration.

Thanks to its mastery of the art of thermal oxidation of metals, De Bethune raises the level of complexity once again by bluing millions of nanoballs in polished steel. The blue colour results from the heat released by the chemical reactions of the heated steel. The reaction requires extreme cleanliness of the metals, a precise process known only to watchmakers. This unique preparation then enables the bluing of the nanoballs, made of a special steel, in the kiln. The time of oxidation and the temperature must be meticulously controlled in order to obtain the perfect blue. The nanoballs are subsequently sorted and only the perfect ones are chosen to fill the hourglass.

Through HG Timepiece, De Bethune agreed to try to make this blue dream a reality. Denis Flageollet, with his unrivalled expertise in bluing metals such as titanium and steel, experimented in his forge for many weeks with the heat reaction of polished steel nanoballs until he succeeded in bluing them perfectly in the desired tone. He thus developed a method for replicating this same blue on 127 million nanoballs. This was a painstaking process that took several months over the course of a year, and so will not be repeated in the future, given the enormous challenge involved.

The incredible task of bluing the nanoballs to perfection, coupled with the ever-increasing complexity of glassblowing, has led HG Timepiece and De Bethune to limit this unprecedented series to 36 Hourglasses: twelve 60-minute pieces and twenty-four of the 10-minute version.

July 07, 2022