Benzinger is a German luxury watch atelier specialized in hand-crafted one-of a-kind mechanical timepieces. The company was founded by Jochen Benzinger, a talented master-craftsman with expertise in traditional decorative techniques.
Based in Pforzheim, which is a traditional jewellery and watchmaking centre in the southwest of Germany, Benzinger is a not just a watch atelier but also a meeting point for traditional ornamental art-crafts. Benzinger offers exclusive and one-of-a-kind mechanical watches incorporating antique techniques that are rarely practiced nowadays. Jochen Benzinger also designs limited edition timepieces for renowned watch companies like IWC, Sattler, Glashütte Original and Chronoswiss.
To create his timepieces, Jochen Benzinger uses very old crafts such as engraving, skeletonizing and guilloche. Truthful to the true meaning of the word “HAND craft”, all his dials are cut by hand, the movements skeletonized and engraved by hand.
Guilloché itself is the evolution of the royal craft known as ornamental turnery. Emperors and kings of the 16th to the 18th century were trained in this craft as it symbolized like no other craft the former view of the world that everything had to turn around the sovereign himself. Most of the engine-turning machines used by Jochen Benzinger are still from the 19th century and it takes a lot of experience and knowledge to use them.
Since ancient times, the art of engraving has been used to decorate jewelry and objects needed for daily use. The evolution of engraving thus began in a time prior to our conscious collective memory. Albrecht Dürer helped the art form to a new heyday in the 16th century with his copperplate etchings and wood carvings. Using the same tools as Dürer, Jochen Benzinger creates hand-embellished masterpieces with an historic soul.
Skeletonization is a method of decoration that lends “closed” watch movements a new and more individualized character. Parts of the movement are removed using a goldsmith’s saw, allowing a direct view into and through the mechanical movement.
Using these old techniques, Jochen Benzinger produces around 100 unique watches per year, all of them emerging from a combination of the old crafts, different platings and technical re-design, such as 24-h- or regulator indication. The origin of the movement itself can often not be recognized anymore after having been refined by Jochen Benzinger. This combination of traditional hand craft and technical in-house design is unique throughout the world.
About Engine Turning
Engine turning is the engraving of geometric ornaments consisting of fine lines at a dense but always constant distance. Said lines are cut into the metal with a hand-guided tool. They give the dial or plate a relief-like pattern and lead to different light and shadow effects, depending on the light.
Engine turning is said to be invented by a Frenchman, Mr. Guillot, and the German Hans Schwanhardt. The great master of this four-hundred-year-old technique, however, was the Russian court jeweller of the tsar, Peter Carl Fabergé, who decorated the jewelry eggs named after him.
In earlier times, Guilloches were primarily used as a security feature to make it more difficult to counterfeit printed banknotes, securities, passports and identity documents, since the guilloches on the printing plates that were still engraved at these times, could not easily be reproduced.
Engraving guilloches on metal is called engine turning. Since the 17th century, special engine turning machines have been used, a form of lathes specialized in this purpose. The art of guilloché had almost been forgotten; only when expensive mechanical wristwatches came into the world’s focus again, the demand for specialized crafts men also increased again.
The decoration of a single dial can take hours, sometimes days. Gold and silver are easier to process than platinum. If only a single cut goes by, the workpiece is destroyed and you can start all over again. The pressure of the stitch on the workpiece is also exerted by hand and must always be uniform.
In general, rose engine and straight line machines are to be distinguished. Benzinger mostly works with a rose engine machine that, as the name suggests, decorates round workpieces, and this includes most of the components used in watches.
With a straight line machine, on the other hand, linear structures are created, such as those found in the decoration of very high-quality fountain pens or picture frames. The engine turning machine is driven by hand, hence the low rotation speed. Benzinger workshop has about 10 different guilloché machines, some of them older than a century.
BENZINGER REGULATOR BLUEBLACK: ETA 6498 Movement. Double-technical re-design: hour indication moved upwards towards 12 o’clock, the minute out of the center towards 6 o’clock. The Sterling Silver dial was thermally blued; guilloche: ray pattern. High-grade steel case plated with black DLC. Hands: gold plated steel hands in Breguet-style. Onion crown. Hand-sewn alligator leather strap. Diameter: 42 mm. Price: EUR 9.999,-
BENZINGER FROSTED BARLEY: Sterling Silver dial with barley pattern (hand-guillochéd) and typical Breguet frost, view through the small second onto the ground plate (rhodium plated, hand-engraved + hand-skeletonized). Movement: ETA 6498, screw balance. Flame-blued steel hands in Breguet style. Flat onion crown. Hand-sewn alligator leather strap with folding clasp. High-grade steel case plated with black DLC. Diameter: 42 mm. Price: EUR 8.400,-
BENZINGER SUBSCRIPTION IV SILVER BLUE: Technical re-design: hour and minute are decentralized, moved up towards 12 o’clock. Two-part Sterling Silver dial (ground dial: thermally blued, ray pattern; top dial: black PVD coated). Both are hand-skeletonized with view to the ground plate (Rhodium plated, hand-guillochéd, hand-skeletonized). Swan neck fine regulation and screw balance. High-grade steel case made in Pforzheim. Hand-sewn alligator leather strap with matching stitches. Retail price: EUR 9.400,-
BENZINGER REGULATOR BLACK ROSEGOLD MODERN: Double technical re-design: hour indication moved upwards towards 12 o’clock, the minute out of the center towards 6 o’clock. Two-part Sterling Silver dial coated with black PVD, guilloche: ray pattern. Hands rose gold plated. 18-kt-rose gold case made in Pforzheim, onion crown, screws-in strap lugs. 42 mm diameter. Sapphire crystal on both sides. Price: EUR 21.900,-
BENZINGER SUBSCRIPTION ARTDÉCO: Two-part Sterling Silver dial (ground dial: hand-guillochéd with Breguet Frost, top dial: hand-skeletonized Roman numerals). Hand-made crown. Retail price: EUR 8.900,-
BENZINGER SUBSCRIPTION BLACK ORANGE: Skeletonized dial, black PVD plated, orange numerals. View to the ground plate which is rhodium plated. High-grade steel case coated with black DLC. Flat crown. Price: EUR 9.800,-
BENZINGER FULL SKELETON FLORAL GREY: No dial, as full skeleton watch. Movement plated with black rhodium, completely skeletonized by hand. Hour indicating dots printed on crystal. Price: EUR 8.600,-
BENZINGER ¾-SKELETON FLORAL CLASSIC: ETA 6497 manual winding movement. ¾-Skeleton as part of the dial is still there. Movement hand-skeletonized, hand-engraved and rose gold plated. High-grade steel case coated with black DLC. Retail price: EUR 8.700,-
BENZINGER SUBSCRIPTION IIIA: Two-part Sterling Silver dial (ground plate: ray pattern with Breguet Frost, top dial: polished Silver). Subscription re-design. Diameter of 42 mm. Also available as women’s version in 38 mm. Retail price: EUR 8.500,-
How to buy Benzinger watches?
The Jochen Benzinger Uhrenunikate (Unique Timepieces) Manufacture is located at the Dietlinger Straße in Pforzheim. You can contact the manufacture by phone or messaging as per the details provided on their website. They also have a showroom (Manufaktursalon) located at the Merkur str in Baden-Baden, Germany.
The Benzinger timepieces can also be ordered by contacting the company’s overseas representatives like Marcel Kuriger (Wilen, Switzerland), Watch Collector by Christian Bissener (Weiswampach, Luxembourg), WatchBuys (North America), Define Watches (Australia) and Sonthe Orologi S.A. de C.V. (Mexico).