Jaeger & Benzinger: Bringing Breguet Back With A Modern Twist
As the old adage goes “necessity is the mother of invention”, which applies to a lot of independent watch brands. So many watchmakers have started their own collection because they simply couldn’t quite find the right timepiece to work into their look, lifestyle or budget. Jaeger & Benzinger, another glowing addition to the SKOLORR family, were definitely born into this category.
For Kay Jaeger and Jochen Benzinger it was a combination of look and budget that led them to go it alone. Because if you want something done right, you do it yourself!
When the pair met at a fine-watch fair, organised by Jaeger, they discovered they had more in common than a love for traditional watchmaking techniques: the duo found they shared the same sense that there was something missing from the watch world.
Admirers of Abraham-Louis Breguet (one of the most important names in horology and the man credited with inventing the tourbillon among other things), they felt that a typical male watch that was classical in style but affordable for everybody just wasn’t available. So, they set out to create a watchmaking brand that embodied what they felt was missing from the market.
Pre-Jaeger & Benzinger, Jochen was, and is still, a legendary name in watchmaking thanks to his talent with a graver. After the Quartz Crisis during 70s/80s – where the Swiss watch industry was nearly decimated as the market was flooded with cheap Japanese quartz watches – people who know how to engrave, guilloche and skeletonise watches by hand are a dying breed. However, Jochen continued to practise his trade; a prescient move as, since 2007, the demand for those who use their hands rather than a machine has gone through the roof.
Kay Jaeger, with a background in the fashion industry, was a devoted watch collector for more than three decades before he began working with Jochen on Jaeger & Benzinger in 2012. While collecting, his passion for timepieces led him to act as an advisor for various watch labels and in 2009 he started Manufakturmesse – a fine-watch fair in Mannheim, Germany.
With Kay’s design skills, honed by his time in the fashion industry, and Jochen’s watchmaking talents, the two set about creating a collection that would combine elements from classical watches with modern touches.
The result is a collection of both time-only and chronograph designs that have those historical touch points, such as Breguet numerals, with a 21st century sensibility. However, what makes Jaeger & Benzinger stands out is through the deployment of Jochen’s talents. There is a hint of it dial-side in the guilloche on the trademark enlarged small seconds sub dial but it’s when you turn the watch over that his prowess is seen.
Jochen and his team elevate each movement with their magic, thanks to the top-class finishing. Balance cocks are hand-engraved, rotors are skeletonised, main plates have perlage and the three-quarter plate has guilloche. It’s so beautiful you almost wish you could wear the watch dial side down.
All this is made even more incredible when you consider that these watches are looking to compete with the Baume & Merciers of this world, in terms of price tag, rather than the Breguets.
Watch buyers may not have realised that there was a space in their watchdrobe for a classically styled and exquisitely finished, keenly priced timepiece before Jaeger & Benzinger came along. But we’re sure they’re pleased to have such a brilliant way to fill it now.
Header image via hespokestyle