They are no strangers to each other; Jochen Benzinger teamed up with IWC to create for example the quite outrageous Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Squelette. Outrageous in a sense that it simply makes you want to head straight to the marina, raise the main sail and set on a course to India, while parking yourself on your teak wood deck to admire all the tremendous details this watch so willingly displays. I wouldn’t even be surprised that with this major distraction around your wrist, you might end up in the Bahamas.
So what happens when Benzinger gets a chance to purchase an IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère ébauche and gets to work on it to create his own piece unique? Those who expect another skeletonized extravaganza will be disappointed, because Benzinger did not go down that route. Instead, he clothed the Tourbillion Mystère in a classical attire, one very different from the cloth IWC usually cuts its designs from. This also sets the stage for Benzinger to do what he does best; engraving, guilloché, and okay, a little bit skeletonized.
The most dramatic change that Benzinger makes in relation to the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Squelette is the power reserve meter. Here, not nicely tucked away in a modest subdial as IWC did, but a large, prominent arc is planted in the middle of a field of the finest guilloché. Adorned with a romantically old fashioned-shaped hand, this can only be watchmaking at its best.
Two holes in the dial give you an insight to the mechanical intestines of the watch. Looking through them brings you into a world that seemed to be penned down by Jules Verne – inventive machinery decorated to the highest standards; art in motion that Benzinger shows off with modesty. While the Tourbillon does its thing at 12 o’clock, Benzinger places more attention to the gear train at 9 o’clock that moves the seconds hand. Perhaps this puts function over form, yet wasn’t that how it was supposed to be? Wasn’t the tourbillon born out of the idea of serving the watch into providing a more accurate track of time, and isn’t the seconds hand the greatest testament of this achievement?
That other Benzinger hallmark skeletonizing the movement is also there yet hidden at the back of the watch. Here, everything that could be cut out, is cut, and everything that could be engraved, is engraved. This is done in a quite similar fashion as the IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Squelette, which some would consider a benchmark for a skeletonized tourbillon movement. IWC’s seal has been left intact as a momentum to the maison that created the movement. A fitting tribute for a watch that shows what can happen when a master meets a masterpiece.
Special thanks to Christian Bissener of Watch Collector, official Benzinger dealer for the images of this piece unique
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics