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The Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 is different from the other models of the Pforzheim watchmaker. Inside its case ticks a movement that you won’t find in any other wristwatch in the world. As always, there is also a lot to discover…
A novelty for BENZINGER
Usually, the watchmaker Jochen Benzinger gives his models well-sounding English names. BENZINGER Subscription IV Open Grey Engine, Subscription Black Orange or Regulateur BlueBlack DLC usually stand for the outstanding characteristics of the watches and are almost self-explanatory. With the designation of his latest watch it behaves differently. Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 is the name – almost cryptic.
However, ‘GAP 1’ has nothing to do with any gap. Behind the abbreviation is a small revolution at BENZINGER. While browsing through my old watch reviews, I always tested BENZINGER models, in which an ETA 6498 with manual winding was used. Usually, it was modified before being installed in the respective watch, for example for a subscription.
However, the chapter ETA 6498 is only temporarily closed with the new model. For the realization of the GAP 1, the Pforzheim watchmaker broke new ground and collaborated with the Austrian watch manufacturer Habring. GAP stands for nothing other than German Austrian Partnership. Yes, the explanation can sometimes be that simple. The movement of the same name was intended to precisely meet the requirements of Jochen Benzinger’s new watch and was developed specifically for the luxury timepiece. Consequently, the movement is not found in any other watch worldwide.
How it performs and whether the rest of the watch has remained BENZINGER-like, I will tell you in the following paragraphs.
The Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 on the wrist
The word ‘new beginning’ would certainly be an exaggeration, but for BENZINGER, the GAP 1 definitely represents a novelty. However, this remarkable innovation is not visible at first glance. Externally, the model with the bright dial unmistakably bears the signature of Jochen Benzinger. An artfully guilloched dial, Roman numerals and the never sparing use of precious materials such as silver or rose gold. Those who have already had experience with the masterpieces will immediately recognize the cherished trademarks. To all others, I would like to recommend my interview with Jochen Benzinger, in which he explains his philosophy and approach, including old craft techniques.
Compared to other models like the BENZINGER Blue Illusion, it is noticeable that the typical cylindrical case has shrunk a bit. Its diameter is now not the usual 42, but a more compact 39 millimeters. This reminds me strongly of classic watches of the early 20th century. At those times, wristwatches were usually smaller. I think that is quite compatible with the historical design. Likewise with my wrist, on which the watch does not look too small.
As for the other BENZINGER models, the same applies to the GAP 1: this watch is made for special occasions. For everyday use on the wrist, the timepiece would be too extraordinary and too high-end for me. You have to take your time for the GAP 1 with its detailed look. A watch with these special features is only worn on memorable days.
Small but nice – the case
In terms of its shape, the compact case strongly resembles those of the other watches. The cylindrical stainless steel body appears functional, minimalist and straightforward. Thus, it leaves enough space for the more interesting front and back sides to unfold their effect. As usual, the stainless steel case made in Pforzheim features a mix of polished and satin finishes. Its workmanship is top-notch, as you would expect. The polished bezel is sharply cut off at its edge to keep the case from looking too chunky.
The design of the screw-down case back is new. While this was very narrow in the past and only left room for discreet engravings, Jochen Benzinger now attaches much greater importance to it. Now, wider edges feature high-quality 3D engravings. The crown with the company signature ‘JB’ also has such a 3D engraving.
However, the first glance is without surprise at the transparent center of the caseback, which is still stunning. For the first time, the new GAP 1 hand-wound movement can be seen in all its glory. It is protected by sapphire crystal, which also covers the dial. Here is no curvature. Due to its scratch resistance, it guarantees that the Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 will show hardly any signs of wear even years later, if treated properly.
The water resistance is 10 bar. So you shouldn’t expect any miracles here. The focus is on the artistic design and not on achieving impressive values.
The GAP 1 in detail
In addition to BENZINGER, Richard Habring is also behind the German-Austrian partnership. Jochen Benzinger made the beginning and developed the design with ideas of the positioning of the displays. The realization of the GAP 1 movement was done by Habring. With this, Jochen Benzinger fulfilled his dream of having his own manufacture movement, as I was told. It is now possible to respond even better to the exclusive wishes of customers. The movement’s diameter of 30 millimeters allowed BENZINGER to choose a more compact case. This accommodates the wearing habits of watch lovers with narrower wrists.
The GAP 1 movement is a hand-wound caliber. At 28,800 vibrations per hour, the power reserve is an enduring 48 hours. Outstanding features include a tangential screw fine adjustment for good accuracy and the KIF shock protection, which saves the GAP 1 from external influences.
A bit unusual at the beginning might seem the positioning of the crown. It is now located at 2 o’clock. What is framed by a crown guard at 3 o’clock, on the other hand, is a pusher to set the date.
A splendor in rose gold and Breguet Frost
The Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 does not dare to experiment with the design of the dial, except for the unusual position of the subdials at 4 and 8 o’clock. At first glance, it reminds me a bit of the one on the BENZINGER Pure, even though the differences are significant upon closer inspection. The generous use of rose gold in the zone ring area makes the Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 one of the most visually classy watches I’ve ever worn. The main dial, which is used to read the minute and hour, does not use the entire space. Slightly shifted towards 12 o’clock, it grants enough space for the small seconds at 8 o’clock and the date display at 4 o’clock to be read.
The light color tone is named Original Breguet Frost and is one of BENZINGER’s trademarks. Mainly, it was provided with a grain guilloche. Within the small zones, this is replaced by a ray guilloche, which breaks up the design. The entire leaf was made of sterling silver.
Blued Breguet hands provide a successful contrast to the rose gold-plated zone rings and the light tone of the dial.
The strap of the Jochen Benzinger GAP 1
For use on the wrist, the familiar strap made of alligator leather is used, which was hand-sewn and offers hardly comparable wearing comfort. While you can recognize the origin of the leather on the black, streaked surface, it is much softer on the inside. The well-known name lettering may also not be missing. A stainless steel buckle ensures a secure fit.
My conclusion about the Jochen Benzinger GAP 1
For his new model, Jochen Benzinger has parted with the well-tried ETA manual winding movement and opens a whole new chapter with his own developed movement. With its radical skeletonization and refinements, it not only looks good, but performs impressively on the test bench. During this test, it convinces with performance and small details like the fine adjustment or the shock protection. “More than just beautiful,” one could conclude.
But the Jochen Benzinger GAP 1 has so much more to offer. However, one should not expect more experiments. Why should we? The watch presents itself I proven style, which is still unique and hard to imitate. The choice of materials and their workmanship are, as always, at the highest level. Familiar customers also appreciate conveniences like the alligator leather strap.
With all the praise, one thing should not be ignored: the price. The GAP 1 costs 11,900.00 euros, but in view of the newly developed movement and the many hours that go into each model, the price is easily justified. In the world of BENZINGER, ‘luxury’ also means being able to have the watch modified according to your own wishes. In this case, however, there are no upper limits to the prices.