Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S03 ep19 : Tim & Bart Gronefeld, Gronefeld Watches, [?????]
Interview with Tim & Bart Gronefeld
The name Grönefeld and the art of watchmaking have a family history spanning nearly one hundred years, originating in the small and ancient town of Oldenzaal located in The Netherlands. It is there, in a shop directly under the view of the ancient basilica church and its tower dating from 1240, that the grandfather of the present watchmakers, Johan Grönefeld, began his career as a watchmaker in 1912. Both Tim and Bart Grönefeld underwent extensive training in Switzerland, and within a relatively short span of time proved themselves adept world specialists in the production of the most coveted and exquisite horological complications of all: the tourbillon and the minute repeater wristwatch. After 8 years with Renaud & Papi, where Bart was workshop manager and responsible for training, Tim in charge of escapements and regulating and assembling tourbillons, they returned to the Netherlands in 1998 to set up their own service workshop. In 2008 Tim and Bart presented the first watch bearing their own name, the GTM-06 Tourbillon Minute Repeater."
Gronefeld: In 1912 our grandfather Johan Gronefeld started watchmaking in Holland, he used to
service the first mechanical wristwatches for the people of Holland … my father took over his
business and he was also a watchmaker and jeweller.
Gronefeld: We are kind of technical boys, we like working with our hands. We went to the Dutch
Watchmaking School, we studied there for four years after we went to Switzerland to get a little
bit more education to Worstep, went to London back to Worstep and then I got a job offer at
Renaud & Papi making minute repeaters.
Gronefeld: I worked there for seven years, my brother he came three years later because he’s three
years younger, he became responsible of the tourbillion mechanisms regulating escapements.
Gronefeld: Renaud & Papi at the time was really small and there were two young directors at the
time they were 35, I was like 21 and I got along with them really well and it was feeling like my
Gronefeld: I was like 10 years abroad and I met a girlfriend in Holland, I had to make a decision,
do we, does she come to Switzerland or do I go back to Holland. So then we called around in
Switzerland, can we have some nice decent work, we could do it for you in Holland and some of
them they said yes so we could go back and we could open straight away our own workshop so
instead of taking over the business from our parents the jewellery shop, we start to do our own
Gronefeld: From the beginning it was always a dream to make own watch. Our business grow quite
fast. We started with the two of us and it, six, seven years we be already with 12, 13, 14
Gronefeld: In the beginning we had some people from the watchmaking school, at the end because
we couldn’t find watchmakers we trained them all by ourselves, we employed some technical guys
and we transformed them to be watchmaking, starting off basic things but now they are fully
Gronefeld: Even why we didn’t have time we did it anyway so we worked on the weekends and
evenings on our brands and in 2008 for me it’s the minute repeater, for him it’s the tourbillion so
we had to show the world that we could do the tourbillion minute repeater.
Gronefeld: This new movement it’s completely developed by ourselves in partnership with R… &
P… is where I started 22 years ago so I know all the ins and outs of their calibres and I try to pick
that’s good in that calibre, that is good in that calibre.
Gronefeld: Normally they only supply complete movements for Cartier to Frank Muller to Harry
Winston but for us they made an exception that we get the parts rough, we get them in the
workshop, we do the finishing everything all by ourselves (everything by hand) assembly, casing
and everything and the design it’s all done by ourselves, we design the case, the hands and the dial.
Gronefeld: We have Christians H… in Holland it’s a Dutch scientist and he invented the pendulum
and also the hairspring, if he wasn’t there, there wouldn’t be any mechanical wristwatches.
Gronefeld: The speciality of this movement is first of all it’s the shape of the bridge, the material
of the bridge is stainless steel nobody ever used stainless steel in this, the stainless steel for us has a
big advantage, it’s harder to machine, but then it’s also harder to polish but when you get to the
finish it’s the most beautiful finish you can get on steel. And you don’t have to plate it, so this is
pure how it is and it stays how it is. We will produce about 100 watches with this movement. It
takes about one month to finish and assemble one of these watches.
Gronefeld: The steel version it retails for 29,500 Euros excluding taxes and the gold version is
49,500 Euros excluding taxes.
Gronefeld: We have a … second that means that the second hand is moving at the frequency of 1
hertz, it’s a technical watch so we gave it a technical name. Actually it’s an invention what they
build into pocket watches a long time ago and they try to fit that also in wristwatches but by the
time they could fit it in wristwatches the quartz movements came into action and of course
customers they didn’t want to see that moving hand once a second because it looks too much like a
Gronefeld: There are a few other brands around making … second except they have not so
advanced system, we have found another way to do it with a second gear train and a special
escapement between it with very little friction and that’s why we thought this is interesting for the
Gronefeld: To build the minute repeater tourbillion it takes half a year for one watchmaker, just
finishing and assembling. Without producing any parts just assembling and finishing.
Gronefeld: The craziest thing that we have done is bringing, launching a watch in the middle of the
crisis in 2008 and the newspaper they said what, 255,000 Euros for a watch and we became invited
for to go on national television and it was a crazy period, you know in Holland we are kind of
Gronefeld: I’m not so interested in the old watches in the techniques today I can find my way what
is best and what’s not so good. In the past when we were all living together Peter Speak-Marin and
McGonagle and S.. we always came together for a beer and first few hours we were talking about
watches and last few hours about girls.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Tim & Bart Gronefeld, Gronefled Watches, ???