Watch news is always filled with stories of innovation, exotic materials, new complications, and novel ways of displaying information. While "new" is often exciting, there is something splendidly serene about seeing traditional, as opposed to modern, watch art. There was a time around the turn of the 20th century when watch making went in two directions. While watches began to lower in cost enough to become available to many more people, the ultra rich needed something to brag about. Hence came a golden age in the long history of watch decorations. While this was by no means a new endeavor as "engraving" really started in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was a time to become uniquely creative and literally shove as much detail on each available empty space on watches and other items as well. While this design ethic is the absolute antithesis of "minimalism," it is a testament to one's dedication to their craft. Today the rise of industrialization has all but eliminated the role of the craftsman.
Today, such watch decoration is rare. The machines that exist to create guilloche patterns and miniscule metal etchings/engravings called "machining" are rare and often antiques. Today's machines use lasers to inscribe metal, not fine machinery. The watch makers and decorators who are still around exist with rarity and operate with a passion for timeless traditions. Once such house is Benzinger, located in Germany, where such engraving art is still alive and well.
The house of Jochen Benzinger does several things. They make their own highly decorated watches, they decorate other manufactures' new watch, and sometimes they will even take an existing watch and add decoration to the movement. This latter practice can take an already nice watch and add an amazing detailed set of decoration on the movement, rotor, and sometimes even the face of the watch. When you are dealing with a smaller operation like Benzinger, one can expect such level of personalization and individual attention. Bezinger literally endows its watches with a sea of engraved art on each surface of the watch, no matter how rarely the parts are viewed by the human eye.
In the United States Benzinger watches are rare. The popular online German watch retailer Watchbuys.com is luckily an authorized Benzinger retailer and always has a couple of fine examples. See The Jochen Benzinger watches at Watchbuys.com here. While Benzinger watches are on the higher-end of German watches, they are certainly not unreasonably priced when compared to Swiss watches with similar levels of details and refinement. Sure Benzinger watches are not for everyone to wear, but anyone can appreciate them. These watches are destined to populate many watch museums in the years to come as even the news ones are pieces of history in themselves.