The Bennu bird is an ancient Egyptian version of the phoenix, and was said to be the soul of the Sun-God Ra. It burnt furiously in a fire, and each time was recreated as another Bennu bird; because the Bennu represented creation and renewal, it was often connected with the Egyptian calendar, and, according to some, the Temple of the Bennu was therefore well known for its time-keeping devices. All of this does not quite explain why a historically significant German brand has been resurrected as Moritz Grossmann, nor exactly why their first, rather elegant, watch should be called the Benu, but it does lend a rather nice touch to the launch.
According to Grossman, “Benu is the name of the first watch from the new Grossmann Uhren manufacture where the spirit of Moritz Grossmann is kept alive. In the Saxon town of Glashütte, this ingenious watchmaker (1826 to 1885) crafted numerous pocket watches, various chronometers, and a few precision pendulum clocks that today are coveted collectors’ items seen at international auctions. Now, 125 years after the death of this eminent German master of superior watchmaking, watches that bear his name are once again available.”
Perhaps taking some inspiration from pocket watches, as well other German manufactures such as H Moser et Cie, the Benu really is a thing of beauty: the watch is elegant, classic, understated, modern. The steel hands are carefully shaped and have been treated to produce a bluing that is actually violet-brown, depending on the light (see photograph opposite). I’m not quite sure how to describe these – poires / feuilles / scoties? Whatever the exact shape, the hands seem to perfectly offset the solid silver dial and arabic numerals, all ringed by the soft glow of the three-part, rose-gold case which measures 41mm x 11mm and is WR to 30 metres. The MSRP is 16,800 Euros and the Benu will be limited to 100 pieces. There are myriad details here that intrigue and delight: the subtle, conical crown; the deeply indented sub-dial at six, showing the running seconds; the finely printed minute (or rather sub-second) track; and the thick, anti-reflective sapphire glass with its slight camber and chamfer to allow for precision reading.
And all of this before we even get to the manufacture movement, containing 188 parts, that sits behind it. Quoting Grossman again: “The construction of the calibre 100.0 movement that the Benu reveals within the transparent back not only addresses all of its functional aspects, but is also a feast for the eyes of any watch connoisseur. The 2/3 plate made of German silver – a hallmark of Glashütte pocket chronometers – replaces a number of bridges for enhanced stability. The Grossmann plate has two typical features: the straight-cut edges and the generous circular segment cutout that showcases the classic screw balance in its entirety.” The movement is highly decorated, with polished elements, graining and even snailing. The movement beats at a refined 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour, which is equivalent to the traditional frequency of 2.5 hertz. Interestingly, the Benu features an adjusting mechanism / regulator that I have not seen before. According to Grossman, this allows the watch to be regulated precisely without disturbing the equilibrium of the oscillation system. This “Grossmann micrometer screw” therefore enables accurate, tension-free adjustments in both directions.
If I sound like I am waxing lyrical about this watch – it’s because I am. I love it.