First-generation watches by Gevril (ca. 1994-1999)
Displayed here are some of the earliest models offered by Gevril, a new brand founded in the 1990s. Using ETA movements, and employing a blend of highly sculpted cases with classic dial elements, these early models caught the attention of many collectors, and are sought-after today. Features such as elegant Breguet hands, dials with engine-turned patterns, and uni-sex sizes make these suitable for men or women seeking a reliable and uncommon watch for occasions formal or casual.
The case components are nicely sculpted: ribbed sides avoid the monotony of simple squared surfaces; the notches on bezel and case back align to provide continuity of form; the bezel slopes from the crystal's edge to meet the case band and lugs, giving an already fairly thin watch the illusion of being even more so (the 3-hand models). The dial, set fairly deep in the case to accommodate 3 layers of hands, employs a tasteful variety of textures and depths. The central pattern steps down to a matte ring which borders the brushed hours chapter with applied numerals. Finally, a matte ring with applied dots forms the outer boundary. The flat sapphire crystal is devoid of anti-reflective coating, so the various surfaces with different reflective qualities are a welcome aid to legibility in different types of lighting. Elegant hands of proper lengths are thin and dressy but slightly curved and provide enough contrast for easy reading of the time. On the 3-hand models, the long counter-balanced seconds hand suggests the accuracy of an observatory chronometer.
Innovations found on some early Gevril automatics include an indicator at 3:00 showing whether the screw-down crown is sealed properly (see silver dial below), and many were housed in a wooden box with a spring-loaded watch holder. It is a very slick piece of modern design. There are rumors on the Internet that these early Gevrils were designed and/or built by Audemars Piguet. The quality is certainly high enough that this is plausible, but I have never read confirmation of this theory.
More information on these and other early Gevrils can be found in this article on the Gevril Group website. The photos below were taken by myself of watches I own(ed).
Photos: click for larger.
Model A0111, #2560:
Model AO111R, #1440:
Model F0141, #1434:
Model F0141, #1178:
Text and photographs © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com
Pre-WW2 Paul Vallette Split-Timer
made by Ed. Heuer & Cie. - Ref. 540
Exhibited here is a rare vintage split-seconds timer made by the famous chronograph maker Heuer. It uses a 1/5-second movement based upon the famous caliber in the Semikrograph, Heuer's 1/50th-second timer, little brother to the historic Mikrograph 1/100th-second timer of 1916.
This timer was made for the US market and uses Heuer's Paul Vallette brand name, which was one of a set of alternates used by Ed. Heuer & Cie. and their US partner (Freund) to sell watches in America at a time when consumers preferred French names to German-sounding names (ostensibly as a result of the first World War backlash against Germany). This timer likely dates from the 1930s.
This watch has a stunning enamel dial, blued steel hands, and a lovely silver-plated movement with column-wheel stopwatch activation. The case has two hinged rear covers (with maker's signature) and a snap-on bezel.
Please see my photos below, which include period catalogue entries from Heuer (1930s-1950s). For images of another rare Heuer using a variant of this movement, I invite you to visit this excellent site: http://www.goldschmiede-zwehn.de/mikrographen.htm
Photos: click for larger
Images from a 1936 Heuer catalogue:
Note: serial number of movement in image is slightly newer than the number of the timer on display:
Image from 1946 catalogue:
Text and photographs © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com
A Custom Bridger Field Watch
Made by Montana Watch Company (2002)
This was delivered to me in late 2002 and, as the accompanying letter states, is an un-numbered prototype which is the first watch produced of the Bridger Field Watch line from Montana Watch Company. It features a lacquered white dial, nitre-blued steel case and buffalo-hide straps. The movement is a high-grade ETA 2824. The crown is 14k gold. This watch is not a standard model, it was custom-built for me after Convergence 2002, a collector trade show held in Lancaster, PA. The idea I had when giving input on this build was sort of a modern WWI trench watch like those made by Elgin and Waltham.
The watch is pictured with the original box, allen key, protective pouch, letter from the maker and a CD copy of the Winter 2002 catalogue from MWC (not pictured).
All the photos taken below were made 19 Feb 2016, and clearly show the pristine condition of this uncommon watch. The dimensions are 37mm wide, 10.5mm high, 16mm strap width at lugs. The dial is ~28mm. As demonstrated in the photographs, the overall effect is very much vintage/retro, but the presence of the watch is substantial, unlike many vintage pieces, which can be quite small (<35mm). Since it was delivered, the case of this watch has not been opened.
New watches from this line are very pricey and ornate. Examples of the early understated version are very rarely offered on the secondary market.
Photos (click for larger):
Text and Photos © C. BRradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com
Model: 36000 Chronometer
Issued: Ca. 1970
Case: Stainless steel with screw back
Bracelet: NSA 3-row with F-L logo on clasp
Movement: FL 1162, 21 jewels, gilt
Description: This is a rare F-L chronometer-certified wristwatch with hi-beat movement running at 36,000 vibrations per hour (ticking at 1/10th second).
The present example has a steel case with signed screw back (marked with reference number). The original bracelet by Novavit S.A. has a signed clasp (F-L hourglass logo) and fitted end-pieces. At present, the watch is in need of a balance staff, but is otherwise intact and complete.
An equally rare (if not more so) Favre-Leuba display box is present with this watch. Made by Cartolux S.A., this is a multi-piece sliding box that has lots of FL imagery and can be propped up to display the watch or closed to lay flat.. It includes the tagline: ça c’est FAVRE-LEUBA.
Photos: click for larger
Text and images © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com
Grieb & Benzinger Platinum Watches
by C. Bradley Jacobs
Originally published in International Watch, August 2010
In the world of horology, myriad buzzwords and fleeting trends circulate, but there are few concepts that true watch connoisseurs respect so much as ‘quality’ and ‘exclusivity.’ A novel venture in Germany, featuring some of the most respected names in the business, is providing these to a small and privileged clientele through the Grieb & Benzinger Platinum line. In recent years, Hermann Grieb and Jochen Benzinger have been producing one-of-a-kind timepieces that combine fine vintage movements with world-class decorative artistry. Their aim to create the industry’s most interesting and exclusive products has led them to join forces with their friend Georg Bartkowiak, an experienced design and technical consultant to the watch industry. This trio is presently offering watches unlike anything available elsewhere: truly unique bespoke watches based upon historic high-grade complicated movements that are expertly modified, decorated, and housed in solid platinum cases.
An example of their work—the brand plans to offer no more than 10 watches annually—contains a 19th-century minute repeater caliber provided by Patek Philippe for Tiffany. The movement was restored for 4 months by Hermann Grieb, who modified it to a regulator display. For this watch and all others in the Platinum line, components needed for the modification are produced in-house by Herman Grieb. Grieb & Benzinger Platinum watches do not reply upon outside parts sources, nor do they depend upon modern manufacturing techniques. According to Mr. Bartkowiak, Hermann Grieb “uses the same techniques & tools to restore the watch that were available the days when the historic movements were built originally. This is pure watch-making in the spirit of Abraham-Louis Breguet.” To the modern mind, this singular concept may sound potentially limiting, but Grieb & Benzinger prefer to view it as opening up the possibilities envisioned by the masters of previous ages.
Grieb & Benzinger Platinum watches are also distinguished by the use of a stunning blue movement plate. This is a proprietary technique of blue platinum coating which was developed in homage of Charles Oudin, the student of A-L Breguet known for producing blue plates in the early 1800s. The decoration of G&B Platinum watches is provided by Jochen Benzinger utilizing a variety of techniques such as hand engraving, skeletonization and guilloché, the latter produced via a veritable museum of antique rose engines restored and maintained by Mr. Benzinger.
As is obvious from the dedication and focus of their makers, Grieb & Benzinger Platinum watches represent the execution of a complete vision for producing the finest wristwatches available. The client who commissions such a machine is integral in the conception and delivery of a tailor-made unique item, even to the extent of choosing the movement which will be transformed to the heart of the remarkable timepiece, of assisting with decorative design or perhaps mechanical layout. For such offerings, Mr. Grieb has been very selective in procuring an assortment of very fine and historic movements of the highest quality from such makers as Patek, LeCoultre, and Lange, many of which are repeaters or rattrapante chronographs. His preservation and reinterpretation of the original movement is merely the beginning of a painstaking process of remarkable transformation in which each contributor’s efforts are significant.
As the name suggests, the Grieb & Benzinger Platinum line features cases of that noble material as well as the high level of execution; only solid platinum cases are used. The cases are fashioned from solid platinum with no soldering of lugs or other elements. The minute repeater shown here has a case containing over 130 grams of platinum. According to Mr. Bartowiak, “this watch features the most solid platinum case on the market.”
Connoisseurs wishing to explore their options may contact Grieb & Benzinger directly or visit the brand’s representatives, of whom five will be named worldwide. Les Ambassadeurs in Switzerland is the first. Home service is available for consultation on the project and pricing of G&B Platinum pieces depends on the level of execution but generally start in the range of six figures (Euros). New pieces are continually being developed, such as a modified minute repeater with additional functions and a modified split second chronograph, expected to be available this summer. Before the end of 2010 the brand plans in to introduce a proprietary tourbillon movement—developed entirely in-house. The most current information is available by contacting Grieb & Benzinger via www.grieb-benzinger.de.
Text © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com; images © Grieb & Benzinger