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At first glance, the BENZINGER Blue Illusion seems to be another common model of the Pforzheim watchmaker. However, this is deceptive. Because Jochen Benzinger deviates from his classic manufacturing method and uses a different guilloché technique. Find out what else has changed and whether die-hard fans of the brand will still get their money’s worth in this review!
The somewhat different BENZINGER?
Is the blue color already one of the trademarks of a typical BENZINGER watch? At least, when I look at my previous test watches (nine in number), I notice that the mostly noble and rich blue tones often appear in the watches of Jochen Benzinger. No wonder, blue, stainless steel gray and black just fit together perfectly. This combination also awaits us today. Boring? Not at all, because the BENZINGER Blue Illusion is characterized by its namesake illusion, behind which is not the usual guilloché process that gives all BENZINGER watches their special look.
In other respects, too, the Blue Illusion interprets the BENZINGER style in its very own way. And this, although it is basically similar to the BENZINGER Blue Ray, the classic of the model range par excellence. Nevertheless, BENZINGER lovers do not have to do without the characteristic features. More about this in this watch review…
My first impression
The BENZINGER Blue Illusion presents itself modern and almost futuristic in my hand. The classic-looking design with the playful details and other ornaments has given way to a minimalist, cool and almost avant-garde look. Which design looks better, everyone has to decide for themselves. I, for one, am taken with the fact that BENZINGER has interpreted its design elements somewhat differently this time around.
Nevertheless, the Blue Illusion is immediately recognizable as a BENZINGER. This is mainly due to the fact that the luxury timepiece from the upper four-digit price segment is a subscription one more time, which the Pforzheim production likes to rely on. Here, the movement is subjected to an in-house modification in which the seconds are shifted towards 6 o’clock and the minute and hour towards 12 o’clock. This modification leaves enough creative leeway for skeletonizations, which can be seen well here. Through the open seconds, you can see the working movement behind the dial. How the dial differs from other BENZINGER models, more about that later.
But first, a side note about the bracelet. The classic alligator leather strap with the shiny crocodile look was omitted this time. Instead, the BENZINGER Blue Illusion comes with a purist rubber strap, which I’m known to have a bit of a soft spot for.
The BENZINGER Blue Illusion on the wrist
I would have still strictly rejected this strap choice with the more classic Blue Ray. But in this case, on the other hand, I am very taken with the combination. On the wrist, the black rubber strap emphasizes the casual sportiness that the BENZINGER Blue Illusion exudes. This makes the watch suitable, at least visually, for those who like things a bit more progressive, cool and dynamic. The BENZINGER Blue Illusion is one of the brand’s most “youthful” timepieces, if you want to assign watches to age groups.
In addition, the certain touch of luxury does not come too briefly. 8.900 Euro calls BENZINGER for the blue subscription. A price, which you can absolutely see on the wrist! So, in my opinion, the BENZINGER Blue Illusion is perfect for everyday business, but also fits perfectly to upscale occasions, where a rubber strap can definitely be worn. On the other hand, I wouldn’t get the idea of putting the watch on for sports. Despite robust materials, the BENZINGER Blue Illusion is supposed to primarily convince with fine craftsmanship, not with pressure or shock resistance and other performance values.
The case of the BENZINGER Blue Illusion
Those who have come to know and appreciate the case of the classic BENZINGER watches will also enjoy the BENZINGER Blue Illusion. The brand makes no experiments. Its deliberately simple case is functional and stays in the background to give free space to the artistic inner workings. However, it is worth talking about the successful choice of materials and the (how could it be otherwise) magnificent workmanship.
The case of the BENZINGER Blue Illusion describes a flat cylinder in its shape and measures the well-known 42 millimeters in diameter, which fits every gentleman’s wrist in terms of size. It is made of high-grade steel, which was manufactured in Pforzheim. The surfaces are satin-finished on the sides. In contrast, they are polished in the area of the case back, the screwed lugs and the beveled, also screwed bezel, which gives the watch a varied overall appearance. BENZINGER’s workmanship is first class – luxury class, to be precise. The BENZINGER Blue Illusion must also have this claim, and it fulfills it.
If you turn the Blue Illusion over, you will see the trademark of every BENZINGER watch par excellence, the almost completely glazed case back. Stainless steel edges as thin as this are rarely seen elsewhere. The viewing window, which is made of sapphire crystal, allows a view of the artfully skeletonized and guillochéd movement. You can even look through the open small seconds to the other side.
Of course, the dial is also covered by a watch glass made of durable and scratch-resistant sapphire.
The ETA 6498 – converted for subscription
Traditionally, BENZINGER watches use the ETA 6498, a Swiss hand-wound movement. In my opinion, the mechanical handwinding caliber is as indispensable in a BENZINGER as the guilloché dial! Thus, the regular winding almost becomes a ritual. During the in-house rebuild, the ETA 6498 turns into a subscription. As a result, the watch no longer has a center second, but you read the seconds via a large sized small second above 6 o’clock. Also, minute and hour are slightly shifted towards 12 o’clock, giving more space to the small second.
It’s Just an Illusion
When it comes to the dial and its guilloché techniques, Jochen Benzinger treads unusual paths. Normally, most dials are cut with a rose engine machine. This is done from the outside to the inside. Once the machine has completed one revolution, the diameter is reduced and the work continues towards the center of the dial.
For the production of the BENZINGER Blue Illusion, on the other hand, a straight line machine is used. You start in the center of the small second and cuts from the inside to the outside. In the process, the dial does not make a circular movement, but a vertical one. In this way, small prongs are guillochéd into the dial, whose fine patterns are barely visible to the naked eye. Visible are only the characteristic semicircles, i.e. the sum of the small prongs. So, it seems that the usual procedure has been used here, too. The illusion is perfect. The pattern always looks different with different incidence of light and thus appears dynamic.
On top of the blue lower dial lies the black skeletonized upper dial, which is inscribed with straight white Arabic indices.
The BENZINGER Blue Illusion is rounded off by the black rubber strap, which stands out among the usual alligator leather straps and perfectly suits a purist watch like this one. The wearing comfort is very good. From experience, I would always prefer rubber over silicone, as the material is much more comfortable on the skin, especially on warm summer days.
My conclusion about the BENZINGER Blue Illusion
If the previous BENZINGER watches were a bit too classic, too overloaded and too playful, you should take a closer look at the BENZINGER Blue Illusion. Visually, the timepiece is noticeably different from the other models. Nevertheless, the Blue Illusion embodies what BENZINGER is all about, i.e. the skeletons, the artfully guillochéd dial, the large viewing window and the built-in subscription. It’s a watch that doesn’t deny its origins, but just interprets them a little differently. This is what makes the BENZINGER Blue Illusion so unique.
As a luxury watch, the Blue Illusion lives up to the claim of delivering watchmaking craftsmanship at the highest level with a noble choice of materials. This is another strength of Jochen Benzinger’s masterpieces. The combination of all these factors is more than worth the money. 8.900 Euro is the price for one piece. Below you will find the links to the homepage and many more BENZINGER watches in test!