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The Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC is a masterpiece of watchmaking art. In this test I take a closer look at the new watch and show you how Jochen Benzinger uses an almost forgotten craftsmanship to create watches that are unique in the world!
The Jochen Benzinger phenomenon
Jochen Benzinger in his manufactory in Pforzheim – this is where the artistic pieces of art of the extraordinary watchmaker (who is actually a trained gold engraver) are created in sometimes more than 100 hours. During the photo shoot in the workshop I watch him at work. Benzinger skeletonizes watches, engraves them, makes individual pieces with the guilloché machine, designs entire series and also refines watches from customers.
Especially the unique pieces that are created in close cooperation with the customer and incorporate his wishes, require true skill. After all, every project starts from scratch. If the customer’s wishes change during production, Benzinger has to update the plan and redesign the watch.
There are probably only a handful of people in the world who have all these skills. In any case, Jochen Benzinger is the only one in Germany. One reason why he must have made it this far. Add to this the increased popularity of old craftsmanship, the desire for an individual watch and, of course, Jochen Benzinger’s unmistakable design that immediately identifies every watch as a genuine Benzinger. This was also the case with the Regulateur BlueBlack, which I had the pleasure of testing exclusively for you.
A dream of a watch – the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC
Someone who hasn’t seen a watch from Jochen Benzinger’s manufacture before is bound to be amazed at its sight. This watch has very little to do with the ordinary timepieces of mass producers. By the way, all Benzinger watches, like the Frosted Barley and Subscription IV Silver Blue that I also tested, do have that in common.
When it comes to the design of the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC, it should maybe described as extravagant – in a true and positive sense. The first thing catching the eye is the shimmering blue dial. Here, the artistically guilloched ray pattern, which extends from the second hand to 6 o’clock to the edges of the dial, emphasizes a certain dynamic. The blue color varies slightly, depending on the incidence of light. Sometimes I can make out a certain shade of purple.
The forgotten art of guilloché
Guilloché is a form of engraving in which no graver does the work, but the workpiece is fixed and turned by a manually operated guilloché machine. This craft was very popular with the high nobility from the 16th to the 18th century, but was forgotten over time. Today Jochen Benzinger is one of the few who still knows and masters the art. In the meantime, guilloché machines are no longer manufactured. Therefore all machines of the watchmaker are old, restored pieces.
Let’s go back to the watch – as the name suggests, this is a regulator. Unlike common dials, the time on a regulator is read by hours, minutes, and seconds on separate indices. The black index rings are artfully hand-applied to the dial.
The massive, cylindrical and black DLC-coated case looks great on the wrist. Turning the watch on its back, you will have the next “wow” experience… The case back is completely glazed and offers a view of the fascinating hand-wound movement, which I will comment later. Thanks to the best materials and excellent workmanship, the Regulateur BlueBlack looks very high quality at first glance.
The first impression is again very promising. The Regulateur BlueBlack differs in some points from the Frosted Barley or the Subscription IV Silver Blue, but can easily be recognized as a genuine Benzinger. I will now go into more detail about the individual components. It should, however, be clear that the watch I describe is a configuration. You can order the watch that way. But the components can be modified should the customer wish so. In my opinion, this is a form of luxury that make Benzinger watches so unique.
Looking into details…
…is definitely worth it with the Regulateur BlueBlack. The case, made in Pforzheim, Germany, all in all is rather plain and minimalistic, directing the eye to the playful front and back. Polished edges give the case even more elegance. Benzinger uses stainless steel as material, which in this case has a special DLC coating. On the one hand, this coating offers good protection against scratches that might occur while wearing the watch every day, on the other hand, it is a great contrast to the radiant dial and looks simply amazing in my opinion.
With a case diameter of 42 millimeters the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC is by far not oversized. The proportions match well with my wrist. No need to worry the watch might not attract any attention – the design is too unusual for that.
My unique watch comes with a fluted onion crown made of stainless steel, which protrudes from the case. In case you like it more sporty, you could also opt for a flat crown.
The dial is protected by sapphire crystal – something you might well expect from a watch in this price range. This robust watch glass is also used in the case back. The front is slightly domed, the back is flat, both are anti-reflective. Although the exclusive choice of materials, including the hand-wound movement, sums up to a certain weight of the watch, this hasn’t bothered me when wearing it every day.
A movement with in-house regulator modification
The back of the stainless steel case actually is the most attractive side of the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC. It has got a large external thread and engravings on the stainless steel surface of the edge that come as a charming detail. It goes without saying that the customer is free to choose his own engraving – one more way to make the watch a personal one-of-a-kind timepiece.
When looking through the transparent case back you can admire the movement. While most manufacturers only install a small window, the case back of the Regulateur BlueBlack is almost fully glazed. Benzinger does take it to extremes! Looking on the refined movement is like a glimpse of the perfect art of watchmaking.
Basically it is an ETA 6498 manual winding movement of Swiss origin. Jochen Benzinger, however, fundamentally rebuilt the movement to make it work for a dial with regulator. But that’s not all. In addition, the minute display, being central in a classic regulator, slightly moved downwards towards 6 o’clock. As a result, the hour display at the 12 o’clock position could be enlarged, which significantly improves readability. Benzinger calls this a double conversion of the movement.
In order to top all that, Benzinger gives the ETA movement his unmistakable signature. The screw balance is rhodium-plated, the main plate and the individual gears are hand-guilloched with elaborate patterns. Furthermore, crown and ratchet wheel are skeletonized, which makes the movement appear three-dimensional. Rose-golden colors round off the overall picture, while flame-blued screws set further colorful accents.
The dial – hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloched
I cannot make up my mind which side of the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack I like better. In addition to the unique case back, the dial is also an eye-catcher. By just offsetting the minute display a few millimeters downwards, the dial appears much more harmonious than with comparable conventional regulators.
Benzinger uses Sterling silver for his dial. The lower dial also has the striking blue galvanic lacquer, which looks slightly different depending on the impact of light. Sometimes very blue, sometimes with a slight purple tinge. Since the dial is galvanized in the manufacturing process, the special blue shade develops in this process. The customer may tell his preference on how strong the purple tint in blue should be – that is individuality.
The dial is “brought to life” by its radiating pattern, which is created by guilloché work. When light is reflected, it shimmers and gives the watch something very noble. The center of the ray pattern is not in the middle of the dial, but further down in the center of the second. This also shifts the optical center of gravity further down.
The upper dial consists of the index rings. They are hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloched. To repeat the black look of the case, the rings have a black PVD coating. My watch has Arabic numerals. However, the Regulateur BlueBlack can also be built with Roman numerals should the customer request that. The index rings have a hand-guilloched Breguet finish. I particularly like the rosegold-plated steel hands which set a special accent and complete the design of the dial.
A strap with high wearing comfort
The Regulateur BlueBlack has an alligator leather strap which is hand-sewed. While it looks slightly blue-grey on the outside, the inside is beige and particularly soft. Here you can also find leather engravings with the inscriptions “Benzinger” and “Alligator”. In the last days the Regulateur BlueBlack was my daily Rocker, my watch for everyday life. The wearing comfort was always very pleasant. It often happens that the skin needs to get used to the new leather during the first days and gets easily irritated. This was not the case with me.
The Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack comes with a folding clasp that guarantees a perfect fit. Particularly high-quality: the stainless steel folding clasp features the typical Benzinger manufacture signature – “JB” framed by a rose (“Guilloching” means “Rose Engine”). If you wish, you can have your own initials engraved there, or none at all. The lugs are screwed-in.
Conclusion: how the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack defines luxury in a new way
Are there any points of criticism to be found in a watch like the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack? Not for me – Jochen Benzinger’s third watch made this absolutely clear to me. The Regulateur BlueBlack is a luxury watch. Among other things, this is due to the high-quality materials, the great workmanship and the unusual design, which plays in a league of its own. Nevertheless, luxury has another meaning for me: freedom. Jochen Benzinger’s concept offers me as a customer almost unlimited freedom to design my new watch entirely according to my wishes. While others may buy a watch in this price segment that more people wear as well, certainly no one has a watch like this unique Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC.
Freedom has its price, though. The basic model of the BlueBlack costs EUR 9.999,-, with various extra wishes available for free. Such details can be discussed with the manufacturer. And anyone interested in further models of the Regualateur will find what they are looking for on the Manufacture’s homepage.
The most important data on the Benzinger Regulateur BlueBlack DLC
Case: High-grade steel case made in Pforzheim, coated with black DLC, 42 mm diameter, onion crown, screwed-in smooth bezel, sapphire crystal on both sides
Dial: Sterling silver hand-guilloched & hand-skeletonized, Ground dial: blue galvanic lacquer, guilloched rays
Top dial: coated with black PVD, hand-guilloched, Breguet frost finish, Arabic numerals
Hands: rose gold plated steel hands
Movement: ETA 6498 manual winding movement with in-house regulator conversion, rhodium-plated screw balance, hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloched, flame-blued screws, hand-guilloched main plate
Strap: Hand-sewed alligator leather strap, screwed-in strap lugs, folding clasp
Price: EUR 9.999,-