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During the last few weeks I have concentrated a lot on Jochen Benzinger’s watches. Since then, his custom-made watches being produced with historical crafts and machines only, just won’t go out of my head. Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue.
In the beginning, the “Frosted Barley” was my daily companion. But in the meantime, I guess I’ve fallen for another one, some kind of an insider tip which I would actually like to share with you today.
It may happen that I will use some technical terms such as “guilloché”, and some of you will stop short on hearing those. If you are not yet familiar with Jochen Benzinger and his manufactory, I can warmly recommend my first review of his “Frosted Barley” and the interview I did with him. It might give you some kind of background information on the extraordinary machines and techniques that are used to build the watches.
The way blue watches always catch my attention – the first impression
In the past, I always had to admit to myself how much I liked watches with a blue dial. Actually, I am more a friend of rather inconspicuous colors. But when I took today’s watch, the “Subskription IV Silver Blue” out of its very high-quality packaging for the first time, I have been totally blown away… The second Benzinger is a real eye-catcher, even a bit more than the “Frosted Barley”, I think.
If you put both watches next to each other on the table, you will immediately recognize that they are made in Jochen Benzinger’s workshop. Even the “Silver Blue” somehow seems to be out of this world, as unique as it looks. Is this love at first sight? In any case, I cannot really take my eyes off it, there is so much to discover. The two-piece dial shimmers blue and the artfully guilloched ray pattern reflects the light in a different way, every time I look at it. I sometimes take the pattern for rays, sometimes for waves, which in some way gives the watch a maritime touch.
Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue
Another special feature that immediately catches your eye is that the hour and minute hands are not positioned in the middle of the dial but a little bit further towards 12 o’clock, which is why the small second being at 6 o’clock is a little larger. The breakthrough in the small second already gives a hint of what is hidden on the back of the “Silver Blue” – Benzinger is known for his artistically skeletonized movements, but more about this later. Unlike the “Frosted Barley”, the “Silver Blue” has Roman numerals, of course in a strong shade of blue, which picks up the blue shimmering ray pattern.
My first impression of the new Benzinger is quite positive, as you can easily see. This has been confirmed in everyday life, for example when you look at the blue color scheme – something you can’t get enough of. But there are so many more reasons as to why love this watch… Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue.
The case – on a high level, as usual
One of these reasons is the case. A very good watch needs a very good foundation – something the “Silver Blue” undoubtedly has. Built in Pforzheim, it is made of stainless steel, which is a sign of its high quality. By the way, all Benzinger cases are manufactured here. The diameter is 42 millimeter, so the “Silver Blue” is quite massive. However, the watch doesn’t have wrong proportions, appears too heavy or powerful on the wrist. All these characteristics are balanced in the right measure to each other and give me a very good feeling in everyday life. There is a sharp contrast in the design of the case and other elements of the watch. While dial and movement are meticulously refined down to the smallest detail, the case itself is quite minimalistic. Thus the entire focus is on the dial of the watch.
The bezel is screwed-in, smooth and polished. Other than the “Frosted Barley”, the crown of the “Silver Blue” is even more playful and reminds of an onion. The crown is of sufficient size and fluted, making it easy to use. Because Benzinger only uses material of very high quality for his watches, it does not surprise that the “Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue” has sapphire crystal on both the front and the back, which is scratch-resistant and protects its high-quality interior.
The movement – a special technical design, nicely skeletonized
Protecting the interior of the watch is absolutely justified. It may not be a movement built by Benzinger, but he definitely refined it delicately and altered it technically in such a way that made the offset of the dial – as described above – possible.
Inside the “Silver Blue”, there is actually a Swiss ETA 6498 manual winding movement – a very good and reliable standard movement in any way. But those who got to know Benzinger’s manufactory, know that this is not sufficient for their own watches. Most of them are custom-made and completely individual inside and outside. This dial is evidence enough. The ETA standard movement was converted to a subscription, which is where the name of the watch comes from. Because of that, the hour and minute hands are not in the middle of the dial, but moved further up towards 12 o’clock. This is why Benzinger was also able to give more space to the small second at 6 o’clock. In my opinion the arrangement of the dial is extraordinary, a real eye-catcher. That is genius I appreciate.
Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue
However, the movement unfolds its full splendor on its back, and it becomes obvious what makes Benzinger’s watches so unique. Instead of a simple window you may know from many automatic watches, the whole case bottom here is covered by sapphire crystal that offers an unrestricted view to the individual, artistically designed elements of the movement. These are both hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloched. Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue. A sight that simply amazes you whenever you look at it and that shows how elaborate the production of a single watch is. This is also due to different “highlights” like flame-blued screws or two larger, hand-skeletonized gears in dark blue that pick up the design of the dial again. Purple jewels set further accents.
The case back is screwed in place with a circular thread. Engraved in the rim are the German terms for “hand-guilloched”, “hand-skeletonized”, “Benzinger”, “unique”, “Germany” and “hand-engraved”. The rhodium-coated main plate shows how consistently Benzinger has handcrafted the watch down to the smallest detail, as even the main plate itself is hand-guilloched.
Although you have to live with the fact that you don’t see the glass back and the movement that often, the dial easily makes up for that. It is open at the small second and thus presents hand-skeletonized and hand-guilloched gears – a special feature. Or just typical Benzinger.
My favourite – the blue dial
If I had to decide now whether to could keep either the “Frosted Barley” or the “Silver Blue”, I would probably choose the second. This is because of the impressive dial, which I was raving about from the beginning. But now let’s go into detail once again.
Basically, the dial consists of two parts, both made of Sterling Silver. The ground dial is both hand- skeletonized and hand-guilloched with a ray pattern, giving the whole dial a tremendous depth and vitality and which reminds me of sunrays, especially in daylight. The reflections create a three-dimensional impression. Silver as the used material, coated with galvanic lacquer, leaves the dial shimmering.
The top dial – also Sterling Silver – is black and PVD-coated. Its imaginary center is where the sunrays are radiating from and where the origin of hours and minutes hands had moved upwards. Like the small seconds hand the main dial is open, but does not give a direct view on the movement. Here, the guilloched rays continue. The “breakthrough” is not blue which is why it fits very well with the design of the small second. Blue Roman numerals act as markers to allow easily reading the time.
Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue
All steel hands are made in Breguet style. The small second has blue dots instead of numbers. The company name and the inscription “Made in Germany” are blue on the black dial. Further silver applications complete the dial. Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue.
Finally I would like to comment on the blue color. Blue is not just blue – at least not for Benzinger. Here, the customer gets a choice of how the watch should look in the end. Depending on the manufacturing process, the color can be slightly changed to be lighter or more violet.
A leather strap that shows its origin
The strap is hand-sewed and made of black alligator leather complying with species protection requirements. The pleasant wearing comfort in everyday life is due to its inner surface, which is much finer and softer and has a creamy color. What I find especially beautiful: the seams are blue to match the rest of the “Silver Blue” look. The strap has a folding clasp and screwed-in lugs.
My conclusion on the “Silver Blue”
I didn’t really think it was possible another watch could so quickly replace the Frosted Barley as my new favourite. The “Silver Blue”, however, did it. What else is there to say about a perfect watch? It fulfills all my wishes, looks dazzling and gives me a feeling of individuality. Any blemishes? No! You can easily make out in my previous review what I like about Benzinger in general and what makes them so special in my eyes. The conclusion therefore is short, because this watch speaks for itself. In the end, the most important thing about a watch is the feeling we associate with it. The Jochen Benzinger Subskription IV Silver Blue” gives me a feeling of luxury. And not only because of the high-quality materials or the price of about 9400 €. For me, this luxury means owning a watch that is not a mass product. A watch that is completely handmade and combines the best, extraordinary design with corresponding quality. This is how a perfect watch should be. The Benzinger “Subskription IV Silver Blue” is such a watch.
The most important data at a glance
Dial: two-piece Sterling Silver dial, hand-guilloched and hand-skeletonized
Ground dial: coated with blue galvanized lacquer, ray guilloché
Top dial: coated with black PVD, blue Roman numerals
Main plate: rhodium-plated, hand-guilloched
Movement: ETA 6498 hand-wound movement, open small second at 6 o’clock, in-house conversion to subscription (hour and minute moved towards 12 o’clock, thus larger small second), hand-guilloched, hand-engraved, hand-skeletonized, flame-blued screws
Hands: “Breguet”-style steel hands
Strap: hand-sewed alligator leather strap with blue stitching, folding clasp, screwed-in lugs
Case: Stainless steel case made in Pforzheim, 42 mm diameter, screwed-in smooth bezel, onion crown, sapphire crystal on both sides