Besides their office overlooking the street, the first floor has the “dirty shop” – even though you could eat off the floor while I was there. In it are the grinders/polishers, the lathe, and a couple of metal working machines plus a finishing tool built by Renaud et Papi. The machine which does Geneva stripes in interesting in that Grönefeld watches have frosted stainless steel plates/bridges. This machine is only used for outsourced jobs.
They went on to say that when they were deciding how to make their watches different from the typical Swiss and German fare that, being Dutch, they couldn’t very well use Geneva stripes or German Silver. So they opted for stainless steel bridges and cocks with contrasting high polished, brushed, and frosted areas as a signature element of their watches. Wanting to be a bit different from the Swiss is paradoxical in that they went on to say that, as far as component parts go, their watches are more Swiss than a lot of “Swiss Made” watches. But they still wanted to carve out their own identity from a design standpoint, hence the stainless steel bridges.
As a rule of thumb, it takes them two years to produce a new movement. In the “off years” they usually offer dial color and case material variations of the totally new watch they introduced the preceding year. So I have to wonder what new creation they are likely to introduce in 2018. But I will be satisfied to see where they take the Remontoire in 2017.
Now, on up to the second floor where the watchmaker benches are located…
Tim and Bart have facing benches and, outside of their hectic travel schedules, do benchwork along with their staff of watchmakers. Bart and Tim joked that the only “CNC” machine they had was their expresso machine. In fact, their cleaning machine has a mechanical timer.
I was lucky that during my visit they had a number of completed watches in the shop. Normally, after a watch is produced it is shipped off to the customer or a retailer. They had a One Hertz, a Parallax Tourbillon, and a couple of 1941 Remontoire pieces on hand.
I asked Bart what he was going to do for the rest of his Saturday after I left, and he said he would probably spend a few hours at the bench. The watches went back into the safe, I was treated to a beer while I waited for my train back to Amsterdam, and my brief visit to the Grönefeld manufacture was over all too soon. I’m looking forward at what they have to offer in 2017 and the future. gronefeld.com