Wrist Watching: New Russell Simmons & Mary J. Blige Time Pieces From Ernst Benz

If you’re wondering, — what is a watch column doing in Automotive Rhythms, a great source for information pertaining to new vehicles —  then that explanation is easy. In today’s technology laden and fashionable society, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the cell phone you use, and the time piece on your wrist sends a powerful, yet visual message in regards to your presence. The right watch complements our personal package and represents presentation of fashion sense, taste level, lifestyle and personality all in one central location: your wrist. The wrong watch though can be a fashion faux pas or flub and send a mistaken message to those who may care.

So while others may be watching your back, I’ll be watching your wrist with watch style news, brand information, features and pricing. Think of me as the guy who tests drives watches for you.  The only thing a retail store will do is let you try it on as the sales person starts his/her pitch. There’s no test drive for you.  I’ll be evaluating watches to help you make the right selection based on facts and factors including what you see and what you don’t. This includes brand name’s heritage and reputation for technical quality and precision watch-making and of course, the movement – what runs the watch — its form, function and make, number and type of complications. I’ll also look at the aesthetics of the watch which includes styling detail and description of case shape including what it’s made of or available in – precious metals, stainless steel, ceramic, plastic and size. The design of the dial face and numbers, the materials that are used, type complications, functions, face design and pricing will also be reviewed.

Like automobiles, watches are priced from the inexpensive to the very, very expensive – depending on all the details above, and other factors.  Occasionally we’ll add a link to the column to direct you to horologic (fancy name for timepieces) terms, descriptions and details.  The more you know about watches, the more likely you are to become a watch fan, even a collector.   For this first column I’m reviewing two watches from Ernst Benz – and that’ not a typo – there is another “Benz” name that represents quality that is not related to the famous car marquee.  Ernst Benz, the renowned Swiss engineer, aviator and inventor, for whom the company was named first watch was a Benz Micro Aircraft Chronograph based on aviation instruments. It became the go-to watch for single-engine plane pilots. In addition to his watches, Benz designed the premiere record needle for playing old vinyl records.

I like the retro look of Benz watches. There’s a classic elegance to the ‘easy to read’ dials of the 47mm (1.85”) that’s become a very popular size for men with smaller sizes also available. Most are mechanical automatics that wind as they are worn with exhibition backs to see the fine craftsmanship. Benz watches are manufactured in Biel, Switzerland.

Two watches from Benz from the Chrysalis collection appealed to me for their interesting style, design and philanthropic participation – 50% of the proceeds, an exceptional amount, go to the 24 year old Chrysalis in Los Angeles to assisting the homeless and economically disadvantaged. For that special lady there’s the limited edition Mary J. Blige for Chrysalis model. At 40mm (1.57”) the 18K rose gold case is highlighted with two rows of diamonds, one  on the bezel (the top of the watch) the other circling the dial of this distinctive chronograph with three complications, day and date window, and diamond hour markers. Powered by an automatic movement (Valjoux 7750) this model comes with a genuine alligator strap with an 18K matching buckle.  Only 24 numbered Mary J. Blige watches have been meticulously made. Available at Barney’s in New York for $19,500. Imagine the smile it’s going to bring to just a few women in the world.

The Russell Simmons for Chrysalis watch is as unique as the man himself who has had an impact on music, fashion, finance, television and film.  At 47mm the stainless steel case is just the right size – not too big or too small – to look good on both large and small wrists. The ETA 2836-2 automatic movement is among the best available from the famous Swiss maker. Simmons chose to include the Hindu seven chakras —  the seven centers of spiritual energy in the human body according to yoga philosophy — into the design of the watch’s face. The sixth charka, known as the “third eye” which represents time and Sanskrit numbers and the word “Alman” or spirit of man are also on the watch face. Seven different color straps, which match the seven chakras, are included.  These special Simmons’ features add to the exclusivity of the 24 numbered limited edition Russell Simons models that have been made.  Available at Barney’s for $5,500.

Remember, half the proceeds from the sale of the watches go to Chrysalis to help those less fortunate.  Does this imply a tax deduction? Not my area of expertise. Ask your tax consultant.


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