The new Grieb & Benzinger Blue Wave monopusher (i.e. operated with a single pusher) chronograph comes in a massive 18-carat rose gold case and is powered by a heavily skeletonized movement, which is based on a vintage Minerva hand-wound caliber. To my taste, the Blue Wave is one of the most beautiful skeletonized timepieces revealed this year by an independent watchmaker.
Last week, the Swiss Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre has revealed a new web-based game that allows just about anyone (except for the poor Apple iPod users, because the game uses the Flash technology) to walk in shoes of a master watchmaker and try to “assemble” their gorgeous Calibre 751/1 column wheel chronograph with vertical coupling (its sibling is installed in the last year’s Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX2 Racing Paris limited edition chronograph watch.)
At this time, only the first stage of the game is available to members of JLC’s “LeClub” online community. At this stage you have to install a barrel bridge, a ratchet click, a ratchet and chronograph wheels on a preassembled mainplate and finish the picture with the train wheel bridge. And you have to choose correct screws to fix the parts into their places!
Although top scorers take around 15 seconds to accomplish the task, so far it takes yours truly around 30 painful seconds to put the things together.
Just imagine how much time and effort it takes real watchmakers to do the job not with a computer mouse, but with dozens of real parts and tools so tiny that you have to use a magnifying lens to do the job.
Take the guys from Grieb & Benzinger for example. They took an 85-year old Minerva column wheel chronograph movement, carefully restored it, skeletonized all necessary parts and created a beautiful Blue Wave one-off wrist watch.
But do you actually realize how many steps they had to undertake to create the masterpiece?
First, they disassembled the movement, then cleaned and inspected the parts. Then the real work began.
G&B’s craftsmen took each tiny piece of the vintage mechanism and exquisitely decorated it. No lasers or high-precision CNC machinery: just usual hand engraving tools, engine-turning equipment similar to those used by watchmakers two hundred years ago, and skills that come from years of experience.
Some parts were polished and engraved; some –like the base plate, spring barrel and Sterling silver dial– were skeletonized and/or engine-turned.
Then the movement was reassembled, oiled, adjusted and put inside a fairly large 46 mm 18-carat solid rose gold case that would look pretty much standard if not an elaborated guilloche patterns on its bezel and the chronograph’s single push-piece.
As a result we can now see a watch, which, although not as stately as their recent “Russian Imperator” model, can be characterized as one of the most beautiful hand-made skeleton watches of the year.
Oh, the price? Grieb & Benzinger plan to sell the timepiece at a price of €87,500. Not too much for the work of art.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Grieb & Benzinger
Grieb & Benzinger Blue Wave watch specification:
Price range: €87,500
Movement: Minerva hand-wound caliber, re-decorated in-house, Swiss Made
Complications: Sweep hour and minute hands, sweep chronograph second hand
Power reserve: 37 hours
Case material: 18k rose gold
Bezel material: 18k rose gold
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 46.00 mm
Case height: No data
Dial: Sterling silver, hand-skeletonized, original Breguet frosted finish
Hands: Steel hour, minute and second hands, rose gold plated; flame-blued subsidiary seconds hand; flame-blued 30-minute hand with red tip
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator strap with 18-karat rose gold buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Screw-in sapphire