May 23, 2024

My fondness for German watch Making is often clear as I make mention to watch makers and designers whose work produces beautiful or utilitarian timepieces. Here we have a rare combined effort of two of Germany’s most exclusive had dedicated watch makers. Nivrel is known for their well-made classically simplistic timepieces which perform their functions in an uncluttered and simple execution. Benzinger, using their watch tools and machines from days of old, bring a rare attention to tiny aesthetic detail on each visible part of the watch and movement. This technique called “decorating” or “gilding” uses fine machines and tools to carve patterns on to the surfaces of a watch.

Jochen Benzinger performs what is a lost art; the idea of taking the time to decorate the fruit of one’s labor. In America especially, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, furniture makers would decorate their creations with patterns, carvings, and delicate attention to detail. Part of the idea was to differentiate themselves so that the consumer knew exactly who created the furniture piece. Today, watches, like furniture before them, are produced in an assembly line with less attention given to detail, and more to volume.

Nivrel and Benzinger are among those watch makers who produce handmade watches piece by piece, and provide a sense of exclusivity in their creations. That is part of what you get when you pay for craftmanship. Looking at this watch you see a classic design probably introduced by Patek Philippe, and beautifully emulated by Nivrel. The full calendar moonphase watch provides the time and all the basic calendar functions you want to know without making the watch face cluttered or busy.

While the Nivrel watch alone is enough, this particular piece was disassembled by Benzinger and highly decorated as can be seen in the pictures, then put back together. Look at the mechanical movement and view the soft swirls and lines which adorn each section of exposed surface area. These decorations are hand applied with tools or special machines no longer built with any consistency. Watches like this used to be common place for the very wealthy, but due to the time it takes to make them, such practices have all but ceased today. You will be hard at working looking for a similarly decorated German or Swiss watch.

The watch being auctioned on eBay is very rare and represents the apex of watch making from both Nivrel and Benzinger. It is certainly worth your time to check it out if only to be aware of what time and labor can achieve in a watch movement.

See the Benzinger decorated Nivrel watch and other Nivrel or Benzinger watches on eBay here.