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.
In the early 1990s, I was facing the same dilemma as today: should I buy modern or vintage? The problem was that the modern watches actually all looked vintage, right down to the sizes. There was something lacking, and watch shopping at times almost felt like perusing the yogurt section in a Soviet supermarket.
I’m obviously exaggerating here, but in general it seemed to me that creativity was more or less an afterthought.
Enter Vianney Halter in 1998 with the Antiqua Perpetual. And then what happened next: the birth of ICH (“independent creative horology”).
Giuliano Mazzuoli comes from a line of Tuscan designers. First making a name for himself with agendas and pens, he turned to creating wristwatches ten years ago.
This run of cult hits began with the Manometro, a timepiece of unique design that looks like a pressure gauge. Its obvious, large dimensions, unusual and insistent design, and incredible legibility have made it popular among watch and design enthusiasts alike.
Now, ten years and four watches later, Mazzuoli celebrates a decade of watch design with a limited edition Manometro.
Sometimes persistence pays off. After a few well-placed questions, the shopkeeper brought out a relatively innocent looking skeletonized pocket watch. With a wry smile, he suggested that the buyer take a look at the tiny lug, leaving my friend flabbergasted. “G.N. Papi No.1” is a clear reference to Giulio Papi. The legendary watch industry figure who leads Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi and now my friend has stumbled across what could be his very first timepiece from 1984.
Romain Gauthier’s Logical One is a masterpiece of complicated mechanics, boasting − as with all of the models in his collection − a level of finishing rivaled only by the likes of Philippe Dufour, Greubel Forsey, and Kari Voutlainen. That’s high praise, indeed. With its four patents, Logical One delivers what it promises: a re-imagined complication laid out very logically. And the most recent edition of the timepiece taking home the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for best men’s complication is a surprising all-black version.
I have attended the odd auction. I have even gone to auctions with the intent to bid on a watch. But that hadn’t yet worked out for me. Not until I saw that Parisian auction house Artcurial was auctioning off what was left of Alain Silberstein’s inventory and put in an absentee bid on a long shot. I had little hope.
Fiona Krüger is a young Scottish artist and designer. She utilizes her love of art to make fantastic timepieces inspired by both the seventeenth-century skull watch of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Mexican celebration of Dia de Los Muertos. She has further developed her initial skull designs to now include the brightly colored Celebration Skull, which she launched to coincide with Baselworld 2015. This is limited to just 24 pieces.
The moon is one element of horology that allows watchmakers to wax lyrical and get their romance on.
Thanks to its romantic properties and associations, depictions of the moon are particularly popular complications for women.
Konstantin Chaykin, that brilliant watchmaker/inventor from Russia, thus showed a bit of his softer side at Baselworld 2015 with the introduction of a new rendition of a ladies’ moon phase watch with its mechanical sophistication clearly on display.
Waxing poetically about moon phases has gotten me excited to take a trip through certain “phases” of engineering excellence to discuss the most accurate moon phase complications in a wristwatch today. Here we bring you the eight most accurate moon phases fitted into a wristwatch. These are examples that far exceed the norm when it comes to engineering, precision, and finely toothed gears. Join us on this odyssey through space and time.
One of the great things about making friends in the watchmaking communities is that sooner or later, one starts receiving invitations to visit the places where the beautiful handwork in horology actually happens: the manufactures of the big brands and the ateliers of the independents. I’ve now had the opportunity to take part in many such visits and I can tell you with some confidence that there is nothing quite like visiting with Vianney Halter at his workshop in the small Swiss town of Sainte-Croix, Switzerland.