A New Model From Baden-Baden, Germany
This is a new watch from the team of Jochen Benzinger and Kay Jaeger, two of the most well known purveyors of "hand made" products in Germany.
Based in the small village of Baden-Baden, Germany in the Black Forest, Jaeger & Benzinger are preserving the lost art of making watches largely by hand, rather than relying on automated computer controlled CNC machines.
Using the traditional German watchmaking techniques of hand guilloche, hand engraving and hand skeletonization each Jaeger & Benzinger watch is essentially a unique piece since these techniques will never produce an exact copy.
To create this new watch, Jaeger & Benzinger actually incorporates something from the past.
Jochen and Kay were able to acquire 40 original FHF 96 movements which they have modified and transformed into something very special.
This manually wound calibre features a power reserve of 48 hours, and is only 4.6 mm in height. This movement features a balance cock completely engraved by hand.
Next, Jochen Benzinger uses his antique hand operated rose engines to engrave the plates and bridges, with a finish in white rhodium and rose gold.
A Brief History of FHF Movements
The Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon (FHF) was founded in 1793 under the name Benguerel & Humbert and is the oldest ebauche movement manufacturer in the world.
In 1816, FHF started industrial production of watch movements, and at one point used hydraulic energy from the River Suze together with steam power to create more than 240,000 ebauches annually.
Through a series of mergers and factory modernization, the company was prosperous until the quartz crisis nearly destroyed all mechanical watch production in Switzerland and Germany.
This crisis caused the company to effectively dissolve into ETA in 1985, but the movement used in this watch is an original FHF Calibre 96 last produced in the 1970's.
Like all Jaeger & Benzinger watches the very thing you are likely to notice first is the dial. Also, as in all Jaeger & Benzinger watches, the dial is not machine made or printed.
Instead, the dial is entirely hand-crafted in-house out of sterling silver. The dial is then hand guilloched and engraved on antique and historic rose engines - old world craftsmanship skills that make Jochen Benzinger among the elite in his profession.
The hands are flame blued and provide a striking contrast to the engraved silver dial with Roman numerals.
Other Features and the Packaging
This watch is fitted in a stainless steel case made in Pforzheim, Germany and sports a hand-crafted leather strap featuring a quick-change spring bar system. Please note that the strap differs from the one shown in the picture above - the actual strap is made from black calf leather with an alligator grain pattern.
Even the packaging for Jaeger & Benzinger watches is hand-made in Germany, and quite honestly unlike any other we've seen.
Kay Jaeger explains that the inner case that is used to store the watch can also be used as a travel case. He contacted a small German specialty manufacturer of leather goods, and together they designed this case exclusively for Jaeger & Benzinger.
The outside material is from ox, while the inside is made from soft deer skin to protect the watch. This case is entirely hand stitched and tanned, and is itself a work of art.
The outer box is made by a German master restorer of old books, and he uses the same techniques to build this outer box that he uses to restore book covers.