Tulpen aus Grafenau

The skeletonised movement of the Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip is delivered in a sultry shade of black. The nocturnal hue invites the eyes to explore every nuance of its curvaceous form.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

Spring is fast approaching and many of my compatriots will recall the song, “Tulips from Amsterdam” sung by Max Bygraves. Mr Bygraves would sing the lines; “When it’s Spring again I’ll bring again, Tulips from Amsterdam”. However, it is ironic that whilst Amsterdam is synonymous with the tulip, the song was written by a German, Klaus-Günter Neumann.

It therefore seems only fitting that Grieb & Benzinger, the German manufacturer of high-end timepieces, should utilise the name of Holland’s famous flower for this handsome model.

The naming of the model alludes to the floral pattern, beautifully expressed in skeletonised detail on this most exquisite timepiece.

The dial

The skeletonised movement is delivered in a sultry shade of black. The nocturnal hue invites the eyes to explore every nuance of its curvaceous form.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

Elaborate scrolls depict floral patterns with the artistic expression of an Old Master. Grieb & Benzinger have always excelled at delivering exquisite hand engraved movements and the Black Tulip upholds this reputation.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

The hours and minutes are imparted with rose gold steel hands.

Subsidiary seconds are displayed at 6 o’clock. A svelte gold hand, featuring a counterweight at one end, delightfully converses with the wearer.

The brand’s logo is located at 4 o’clock and again presented in pink gold. The judicious use of pink gold provides interest and pleasing contrast with the intricate black detail.

I am a self-confessed horological voyeur. I derive pleasure from quaffing every delightful detail of a hand finished movement. This timepiece sates my horological fetishism with an indulgent view of its felicitous form.

The case

Measuring 43mm in diameter, the Black Tulip should prove comfortable for the majority of wearers.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

Blue Danube

The bezel is delightfully engraved with a motif we have formerly seen on some of the enchanting Grieb & Benzinger platinum models, such as the Blue Danube. The guilloché pattern is the product of patient endeavour with a rose engine lathe.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

The caseband and caseback feature a satin-brushed finish, beautifully executed.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

The lugs feature screwed-in strap fastenings, joining the case and handmade alligator leather strap in steadfast union.

A domed sapphire crystal envelopes the upper dial, whilst a flat lens features on the caseback, ensuring a comfortable interface with the wrist.

A knurled, onion-shaped crown made of solid 18-carat pink gold, encourages admiring fingers to fondle its noble structure. It proffers delightful tactility aiding adjustment.

The movement

Unlike many watches I write about, the dial and the movement are inextricably linked. There is a danger of repeating myself. However, in this instance there is so much more to convey.

If you look at the dial at 3 o’clock the winding stem is visible. Each visible tooth appears to have been fastidiously polished. It has a purposeful appearance without eschewing beauty.

At the fulcrum of the dial, the centre wheel is wonderfully adorned with guilloché. A flinqué pattern toys with light with agreeable results. The third wheel features a wave like pattern. The time expended on the guilloché must be incredible.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

The main spring is visible from the dial side of the watch. It does not feature the typical lid on its upper surface, therfore revealing more to the wearer.

Rubies are visible both at the heart of the balance spring but also the pallet fork engaging with the escape wheel.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

The screwed balance reinforces the sense of quality and the Breguet overcoil will appeal to purists.

The movement and caseback both feature numerous pink gold screws with matchless slots.

Conclusion

When I first received information on the Black Tulip, my interest was aroused by its unique appearance.

I have handled the justifiably expensive platinum timepieces from Grieb & Benzinger. I met the charismatic Georg Bartkowiak from the company last year and wrongly assumed that this watch would be elusively expensive. However, I was mistaken.

Independent’s day - Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip

Herman Grieb, Georg Bartkowiak and Jochen Benzinger

An asking price of €33,900 + VAT is not cheap. But, the Black Tulip does appear to offer value for the money bearing in mind its elevated specification. As you study each aspect of the watch’s construction, you realise that it is the fruit of diligent endeavour. There are no obvious signs of expedience to be seen anywhere.

One aspect of Independent watchmakers is that they are often driven by a need to create fine timepieces rather than maximising profit. It is this trait which elicits my respect.

On the outskirts of Amsterdam, tulips will flower in late March or April. However, the Black Tulip from the atelier in Grafenau, provides a wonderful bloom which will never wilt or die. It will confer a lifetime of joy courtesy of its exalted creation.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Grieb & Benzinger Black Tulip
  • Reference: Black Tulip RG
  • Case: 18-carat pink gold; diameter 43.00mm; height 12.50mm ; Water resistant to 5bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds.
  • Movement: 1960s Unitas movement with modified screw balance ; Manual winding; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 17 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
  • Strap: Hand made black alligator leather strap supplied on a solid 18-carat pink gold pin buckle.

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