In the latest chapter in the relentless pursuit of the Chinese market, especially in the upcoming year of the dragon, Grieb & Benzinger have released their version of watches-with-dragons.
Fortunately, they have restricted themselves to four models, each available in a limited edition of eight, with the number x/8 hand skeletonised into the gear train bridge.
If I am so cynical about dragon themed watches, why am I blogging about them? Well it’s because Benzinger/ Grieb & Benzinger are interesting and slightly under the radar. They do some quite lovely classically Breguet-style watches, they’re known for their hand skeletonised (and hand guillochéd) watches, plus they actually have an authorised dealer in Australia, through whom I have had the pleasure of once seeing them in the flesh.
Basically, if Benzinger are doing a skeletonised dragon, then I’ll take a look.
Grieb & Benzinger’s draconic offerings are split into two skeletonised models, and two mother-of-pearl ones.
The mother-of-pearl dialled models are the ‘White Dragon’ and ‘Grey Dragon’. The use of mother-of-pearl dials alludes to the pearl that the male dragon carries underneath his chin, symbolising wisdom, purity and order. The white model is available in white gold with 77 diamonds or in white gold with a guilloché bezel. The grey is available in rose gold with 77 diamonds or in rose gold with a guilloché bezel.
Of their dragon collection, the mother-of-pearl ones are probably the two that appeal the least to me, since they seem more a case of simply putting a dragon on a watch. The two skeletonised models, however, let the brand’s skeletonising skills shine and, to my mind, make more sense within the broader context of the brand's DNA.
The ‘Black Dragon’ features a ‘hovering’ dragon over a skeletonised sterling silver dial, beneath which can be seen a blackened, hand-skeletonised movement. It is available in rose gold with 77 diamonds or in rose gold with a guilloché bezel.
The ‘Blue Dragon’ is the full-on-Benzinger-treatment masterpiece of the collection. The dragon is fully skeletonised out of the movement itself, giving it a far more three-dimensional and organic feel. As well as skeletonisation, the Blue Dragon also features the use of guilloché and engraving. Why blue? G&B say that this is a nod to the time when a lot of blue base plates were supplied by Switzerland through Bovet (which has arguably the richest history of any watch brand with China) and under Emperors Jia Qing (reigned 1795-1820) and Dao Guang (reigned 1821-1850). The Blue Dragon is available in white gold with 124 baguette-cut diamonds or in white gold with a guilloché bezel.
Of the collection, and this is a very personal view, I wonder whether the skeletonised models will be the ones with the greatest staying power. They are more in tune with the brand’s other collections and the dragons are more aesthetically integrated into the watch, which means that they don’t scream ‘token dragon watch’.
How much for these rather limited editions? Prices from 32,500 Euros.