What's this? - I hear you say. Grönefeld are most definitely not a Richemont brand, and they most definitely do not have a booth at SIHH.
All true. But they did have invitations, and so did I. Bart and Tim are big fellas, not easy to miss in a crowd. And so it came to pass that I stumbled across them quite early in the proceedings.
I first met Bart and Tim back three years ago at Baselworld when they had just released their first watch, a rather intimidating tourbillon/minute repeater in a case that would not have looked out of place on Conan the Barbarian's wrist. That's not to say it was not refined; but it sure was masculine.
This was their first foray into a self-branded timepiece, but actually the brothers have been working in the watch industry for over twenty years, having passed first through famed Swiss watchmaking school WOSTEP and then on to the complications department at Renaud & Papi.
Since moving back to their hometown of Oldenzaal in Holland, the Grönefelds have built up a steady business assembling and finishing complicated watches for all sorts of brands - including some top-tier ones. I'm sworn to secrecy, but let's just say that there are several high-end, "totally in-house" Swiss watch models that take a journey to Holland and back during their gestation.
This is the second time I have run into Bart and Tim during SIHH. Last year they were very excited about their new One Hertz watch. They had a working movement to show me, but there had been a frustrating delay with the case. Shortly afterwards, the first actual watch was cased up, photographed and announced.
It's a fascinating departure from the previous Grönefeld watch. Whereas the minute repeater was highly complicated, fantastically expensive, and based on a movement from their old friends Renaud & Papi, the Grönefeld One Hertz is relatively simple, featuring three different complications (deadbeat seconds, power reserve and a push-crown to toggle between winding and setting), and - here's the really interesting bit - is based on their own, in-house-designed movement. And what a movement!
All of this for less than 30,000 Euros in stainless steel. I call that a bargain.
Clearly I'm not alone in that assessment - the limited run of 12 watches in SS was quickly snapped up and there are none left. One client cancelled their order just before the show - it took the Grönefelds less than 24 hours to find another buyer.
So successful has the One Hertz proven, that Bart & Tim have announced a second run in Rose Gold with a chestnut dial, numbered LE of 20 pieces. These will naturally be more expensive, but still affordable. Other releases may follow, although again - I'm sworn to secrecy.
But in my opinion it's the SS version which will prove to be the most desirable, due to its limited numbers, the fact that it was the first version, and let's not overlook the fact that it's a damn fine-looking watch...
photo courtesy Edwin H Heusinkveld
So without further ado, here are my own shots of the Grönefeld One Hertz in stainless steel, taken at SIHH. Hope you enjoy them.
I love the layered dial with brushed, polished, guilloché and transparent elements -
Like all good dead-seconds watches, the One Hertz has a big, big seconds register -
Part of the seconds register was made transparent to allow it to overlap the hours/minutes register without obscuring the latter. Apparently this is quite a technically difficult little construction detail, one of many you can find on this deceptively simple watch if you look more carefully -
"1912" on the rear bezel indicates the birth year of Bart & Tim's grandfather, who was the first watchmaker in the family -
The One Hertz utilises Patek Philippe's patented Gyromax balance wheel. They are one of the very few brands with access to this balance wheel -