While you hear very often that watches are “mechanical art,” in this case the overused description makes sense: here mechanical art (Benzinger’s unique movement embellishment) meets conventional art in the form of the dial embellished with an oil-on-canvas painting by French painter Léon Zanella.
At Grieb & Benzinger, blue is something of a corporate color when it comes to decorating the unique and exceedingly rare watches that the boutique brand based in a historic castle near Stuttgart produces. Hermann Grieb once told me how he and Jochen Benzinger came upon the idea for it. “The idea for this color came to us after an exhausting day of work in a local vineyard while enjoying a cool drink,” Grieb explained in his mischievous deadpan heavily inflected with local dialect. “The setting sun and the colors it created in the northern Black Forest sky simply inspired us.” The new Blue Chip collection prominently features this luxurious blue color.
It’s a story that could have come out of a thriller novel, and it’s about the oldest known watch in the world, which was made in 1505 by Peter Henlein. The Pomander Watch (‘Bisamapfeluhr’), as it is known, was confirmed by committee of experts as having been the work of Peter Henlein in 1505.
I clearly remember watching the history-altering events on television on November 9, 1989: the day that the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Since then, watchmaking in Germany, just like the country as a whole, has undergone a lot of change. The rebirth of Glashütte’s horological industry is an unparalleled story, one coming with a great number of human-condition stories that will someday need lots of telling . . . and here is the first.
This month’s news roundup includes a complicated new timepiece by Audemars Piguet, a famous wrist wearing Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hublot’s latest high-profile partnership, George Daniels and Roger Smith’s only serial timepiece up at auction, Speake-Marin worn by the world’s most famous spy, MB&F’s MusicMachine 2, Arnold & Son’s elegant ultra-thin tourbillon in a new case, Jaquet Droz’ latest timepiece, a unique bespoke timepiece containing an historical movement by Grieb & Benzinger, and a wristwatch Chronoswiss has created to auction off for charity.
De gustibus non disputandum est, as they say: there is no arguing about taste! In particular, I’m not one to tell people what they can do with their belongings. If you, for instance, want to take your Ferrari, paint it pink, and put a giant Hello Kitty decal on it, that’s your privilege. That doesn’t mean that I have to like the item in question. In this instance, I am referring to the Grieb & Benzinger re-interpretation of the classic A. Lange & Söhne Pour le Mérite Tourbillon christened Blue Merit.
Quill & Pad has the extreme honor to introduce you to the Grieb & Benzinger Blue Merit, a unique collector’s item created from one of the rarest serial movements in watch history: A. Lange & Söhne’s Tourbillon Pour le Mérite.
If you have been following my writing all these years, there are a few things you probably know about me. One, I am extremely enamored of the rare handcrafts that almost died out of the mechanical watch industry when it was declared dead during the quartz crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s. I am talking about unique crafts demanding high amounts of skill and concentration like guilloché (a particular favorite of mine), engraving, skeletonization and enamel. Two, I really, really like German watches.