The German watch firm Grieb & Benzinger, known for its one-of-a-kind skeletonized watches with intricate guilloché embellishments, has released its latest, called Blue Whirlwind, a skeletonized tourbillon minute repeater based on a rare Patek Philippe caliber.
At the heart of Grieb & Benzinger’s Blue Whirlwind is Patek Philippe’s Caliber RTO 27 PS, a rare, manual-winding movement with a tourbillon and minute repeater mechanism, which was famously used in the stainless-steel Patek Philippe Ref. 3939 donated to the 2011 Only Watch Auction. That watch was the top-selling lot in the entire auction, selling for 1.4 million euros. Here, this complicated movement has undergone more than 15 months of skeletonization and other painstakingly precise horological work. All the skeletonization and guilloché treatment on the movement — with 336 components, it is one of the world’s most complicated — was done by hand. (Click on the photos for larger images.)
The fine guilloché on the plates and bridges necessitated moving the original drillings by less than 1/20th of a millimeter, and the entire movement needed to be carefully disassembled, adjusted and reassembled as part of the process. The guilloché even extends to gear wheels, and the 12 guillochéd bridges and cocks are also coated with rhodium and rose gold. The watchmakers at Grieb & Benzinger also replaced the tourbillon’s original gold drive wheel with a new “mysterious wheel,” which is visible from the back. The result of all this craftsmanship is what the company says is the first visible skeletonized tourbillon based on a Patek Philippe movement. (“Whirlwind” is the English translation of the French word “tourbillon.”)
The watch also features another Grieb & Benzinger hallmark, a base plate coated with blue platinum. The skeletonized, sterling silver dial is arranged in a regulator style and sports the classic Breguet frosted finish, a technique currently used only by this brand. The platinum case is 43 mm in diameter. The Grieb & Benzinger Blue Whirlwind is a unique piece, priced at $850,000 — significantly less than the unique Patek model that contained this movement, but still a hefty investment for one lucky collector. Click below for a video on Grieb & Benzinger’s watchmaking techniques.
Receive all the news, features and reviews from WatchTime for free! Sign up to our free weekly newsletter and get all the news delivered to your inbox.