Greib & Benzinger unveil latest extraordinary "restoration" - the Blue Ocean Watch
By Vincent Rice
December 11, 2011
We have covered luxury watches many times on Gizmag and it's often a little problematic. The marketing spiel from the manufacturers is always in that strange flowery language that's designed to appeal to those for whom the primary concern is not cost. However, every now and then along comes a series of watches that seem to truly justify their price tag in terms of provenance, style and sheer craftsmanship. The extraordinary "Blue Ocean" and the Platinum Collection from which it comes is just such a line.
Each watch in the collection is unique - properly unique - not limited edition, false-scarcity unique. Grieb & Benzinger scour the world to collect rare watch movements from the classic age of watch-making (1880 - 1930) by the recognized masters of the art, Patek Phillipe, Brequet, Minerva, Vacheron Constantin etc. The movements are fully restored to working order then skeletonized and hand-engraved using rescued machines from the same period as the movements. Some elements are hand "guilloched" - a form of engraved decoration that hasn't been taught since the 60's. Back surfaces and all screws are "blued" using a special platinum heat process and new skeletonized faces with blued hands are added. The movements are then mounted in new oversized (47-49mm) cases of silver and gold or platinum modeled on the classic Brequet style.
Skeletonizing is the process of removing any excess metal from the movement's supporting plates and bridges to reveal the workings underneath whilst retaining the integrity of the mechanics. When combined with the decorative engraving of every surface and a transparent case-back the result is a stunning three dimensional view into the workings of a classic movement.
The level of skill and craftsmanship involved in producing these pieces can't be overstated, especially when a mistake would ruin an irreplaceable and historic movement. Hermann Greib and Jochen Benzinger are in business to make a living without doubt, but their love and respect of the past masters of watch-making is obvious. Similarly the design talent of partner and "motivator" Georg Bartkowiak is clear in the creation of new faces and cases that are classically influenced yet still contemporary.
These are stunning and desperately desirable pieces that for once seem to entirely justify their $100k plus asking price. You can download a PDF brochure explaining the process - in suitably flamboyant language of course.