by Kyle Stults on October 21, 2012
43mm platinum case, manual-wind Patek Philippe Caliber RTO 27 PS (tourbillon + minute repeater)
German watch brand Grieb & Benzinger is known for its one-of-a-kind, intricately skeletonized and decorated watches. All they make are one-of-a-kind pieces — haute horlogerie at its finest, you might say.
Grieb & Benzinger’s latest production was announced last month– the Blue Whirlwind. Blue Whirlwind is a skeletonized tourbillon minute repeater based on a rare Patek Philippe caliber, the PP Caliber RTO 27 PS. This same caliber was used in the stainless-steel Patek Philippe Ref. 3939 donated to the 2011 Only Watch Auction — the 3939 was the top-selling lot in the entire auction, fetching a hefty 1.4 million euros (for charity). The master hands at G&B took the complicated PP movement and gave it 15 months worth of intricate skeletonization and decorative work. The result is easy to appreciate.
The movement was completely modified in the style characteristic of Grieb & Benzinger: fully skeletonized, guilloché and engraved by hand. According to G&B, the fine guilloché on the plates and bridges necessitated moving original drillings by less than one-twentieth of a millimeter, and the movement needed to be carefully reassembled, adjusted, disassembled, and reassembled in order to guarantee full harmonious functioning of the great number of levers. Even gear wheels were embellished with guilloché and the 12 finely guilloché bridges and cocks coated with rhodium and rose gold. As if that were not enough, an additional mysterious wheel, visible on the back side, replaces the original gold drive wheel for the tourbillon. The base plate is also coated with blue platinum and the silver dial embellished with the Breguet frosted finish — signature elements of all unique pieces produced by Grieb & Benzinger.
Fret not over how you might pay for this piece though — it’s already sold ($850,000) and delivered to the customer, I am told. As for me, though — I prefer their last piece, the Blue Danube (also with a finely decorated Patek Philippe Caliber).
If you are not familiar with Grieb & Benzinger, I have written fairly extensively about them in prior posts, all of which can be read HERE >>>
Since learning of the small manufacture, I have profiled several of Grieb & Benzinger’s fine timepieces — in a word, they are exemplary (with a price tag to match). One of their latest, the Blue Danube, is exciting in many respects. Most conspicuously, a finely decorated 43mm platinum case which houses a manual-wind movement — a minute repeater with split-seconds chronograph — made by Patek Philippe for Tiffany & Co. around 1890 (not the Patek logo and the Tiffany logo on the movement, below). Then there is the extensive hand-skeletonization, guilloché and rhodium-plating throughout the watch. And also, a sterling silver dial decorated with original Breguet frosted finish (see this in the video, and “Did You Know” below). Across the board, an amazing watch — full photo set and video, below. Price will approach half a million USD. Also be sure to check out Grieb & Benzinger’s excellent and informative website.
Grieb & Benzinger Blue Danube
43mm platinum case, manual wind movement made by Patek Philippe for Tiffany & Co. circa 1890, fitted on a navy blue alligator skin strap with platinum buckle
The base plate was first hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloché before being coated with the blue platinum developed by GRIEB & BENZINGER. The three-quarter plate was also hand-skeletonized and guilloché, coated with rhodium and rose gold. Every single bridge was skeletonized, guilloché and rhodium-plated, the hand-engraved balance cock was rhodium- and rose gold-plated. The visible spring barrel was guilloché. Even the wheels were guilloché, and the heads of all steel screws were polished by hand and classically tempered a cornflower blue over an open flame.
The 26-jewel movement is based on an historical minute repeater with split-seconds chronograph and manually wound. It was made by Patek Philippe for Tiffany New York about 1890. With a diameter of only 36.5 mm, this tremendous assembly of complications is rare in such a small movement.
The compensation screw balance with blued Breguet spring beats at 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour. Keeping in mind that this movement is already about 120 years old, it is doubtlessly a sensation and tribute to historic watchmaking. The detailed restoration of the more than 400 components of this extraordinary, complicated movement required intense attention:
anti-reflective, domed sapphire crystal and flat sapphire crystal on case back; pusher and crown are made of solid platinum and decorated with guilloché
Abraham Louis Breguet, one of the greatest watchmakers of all times, once again is the source of inspiration for the Frosted Finish on Grieb & Benzinger dials. Like in the late 18th and early 19th century, the dial surface is worked on using a combination of oxidation by means of an open flame as well as a special acid mixture. The result is a silvery-white surface which reminds of frost. Thus the name, Breguet Frosting.
The ‘frost’ served as a surface sealing, protecting the dial from oxidation (tarnishing of the silver). The fascinating silver-white colour is a feast for the connoisseur’s eye which so far could never be reached, even by means of the most modern galvanic methods…
Today, the original Breguet Frost Finish is exclusively applied by Grieb & Benzinger.
by Kyle Stults on December 09, 2011
Here’s another exquisite timepiece from master horological artisans Grieb & Benzinger, the Blue Ocean. The watch is crafted with a solid platinum case measuring in at a hefty 47 mm in diameter, housing a monopusher chronograph movement that is based on a column wheel chronograph movement from 1926. Use of the old movement, restoring it and giving it new life, is a Grieb & Benzinger signature. That and the extensive hand-engraving, hand-skeletonization and guilloche! Every single bridge and cock was hand guilloché, hand-engraved and rhodium or rose gold-plated. Even the wheels were guilloché, and the heads of all 34 steel screws were polished by hand and classically tempered a cornflower blue over an open flame. Hours and minutes on an inner dial ring, with separate displays for seconds and 30-minute totalizer at 3 and 9 o’clock respectively and the stop-seconds of the chronograph on a scale just inside the bezel. More Grieb & Benzinger, see “Related Posts” below.
Grieb & Benzinger Blue Ocean
47mm platinum case
The hand-skeletonization, hand-engraving, and guilloché are what make Grieb & Benzinger timepieces so special.
Boutique German watchmakers Grieb & Benzinger first came onto my radar in May of 2010 when I wrote a short intro to the brand. Even though annual production is quite small (hundreds of pieces), I’ve tried to keep them on my radar because the watches are so incredibly amazing and any die-hard watch guy will appreciate their finely crafted, skeletonized and engraved pieces.
By way of background Jochen Benzinger is acknowledged as a leading specialist for hand-skeletonized timepieces and guilloché. Kinda like another fellow whose work I know and admire, Armin Strom (must see: my Blue Chip Skeleton review).
For 2011, Grieb & Benzinger are offering what they call their “Boutique Collection”, a lineup of three pieces: the Polaris, the Pharos and the Blossom, each in a 43mm solid 18k red gold case, and each incorporating the brand’s masterful and intricate hand-skeletonizing and guilloché. Today I’m showing you the Polaris, which is outfitted with a mechanical movement, a partally skeletonized sterling-silver dial with intricate decoration and red gold chapter rings. The retail price for the Grieb & Benzinger Polaris is $40,000 – $45,000, which I think is well worth the hand-decorated and skeletonized masterpiece that you receive in exchange for your money.
Grieb & Benzinger Polaris
close up (front)
The huge amount of manual labor involved with skeletonizing and decorating watches such as these offered by Grieb & Benzginer make them some of the best watches money can buy, in my opinion — it really doesn’t get any better than this!
close up (back)
by Kyle Stults on May 17, 2010
I like these guys, and I like their creations even more
Want your own ultra-exclusive, skeletonized, hand engraved piece? email@example.com will be glad to help you out. I love watching this video…again and again…
As for the watch you first see in the video — here’s the det’s:
Dial: Designed without dial for complete visibility of the movement, flame-blued Breguet-style steel hands.
Movement: Caliber ETA 6498 manually wound movement, completely skeletonized, engraved and guilloché by hand with flame-blued screws.
Case: Solid 18-karat white gold case made in Germany, bezel set with Top Wesselton diamonds (VVSI), screwed-in strap lugs, diameter 42 mm, oignon-style crown, sapphire crystals on both sides. Stainless steel case on request.
Strap: Hand-sewn shiny alligator skin strap with white gold buckle.
Price: 25,500 EUR (~$32,000 USD)
Jochen Benzinger is the leading specialist worldwide for skeletonized and guilloché timepieces. Watch movements are skeletonized, guilloché, hand-engraved, and even sometimes technically modified by hand in his workshop in a traditional manner using special historical machines and tools. This allows him to create his own characteristic style of horological art. For many years, Benzinger and business partner Georg Bartkowiak have manufactured chiefly in the name of big brands such as IWC, Fabergé, Chronoswiss and Tourneau. BENZINGER unique pieces are available in steel or gold cases.
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