Grönefeld has become the most prestigious brand in the Netherlands, since its founding in 2008 with the GTM-06, and sits on par with other great independent brands that are dedicated to designing, producing, and finishing their creations in-house, especially when it comes to the movements. This fame has been gained as ‘The Horological Brothers’, Bart and Tim Grönefeld, conquer various mechanisms, from their atelier in Oldenzaal, Netherlands, such as the tourbillon minute repeater, a jumping seconds, a flying tourbillon with hacking seconds, automatic, etc. Their unique approach to classical watchmaking has also garnered official recognition, with them receiving the prize Best Tourbillon for the Parallax model in 2014 and Best Men’s Watch for the 1941 Remontoire in 2016 from GPHG.Their interest in watchmaking has been with them from a young age, influenced by their father, Sjef Grönefeld, who himself was influenced by his father, Johan Grönefeld, who started this three-generation watchmaking tradition in 1912 by establishing his workshop and boutique near Saint Plechelmus Basilica, which is still owned by the family. Their watchmaking training in both the Netherlands and Switzerland cemented their love for complications and today we see a further expression of this love as they release the brands’ first chronograph, the Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf. More than you’d expect from a chronograph and done in the Grönefeld way.
Watch Specifications & Design
Case dimensions: 40 mm x 11,3 mm; Water resistance: 30 meters; Material: stainless steel (limited edition of 188 pieces), Tantalum (limited Initiation edition of 25 pieces); Dial: rhodium plated sub-dials and elements, frosted and satin-grained surfaces; Strap: Buffalo leather; Crystals: Domed sapphire crystal on the front with anti-reflective coating on both sides and sapphire display case back; Caliber: G-04; Power reserve: 53 hours; Number of jewels: 45 jewels; Chronograph: column wheel, instantaneous jumping minutes and a soft reset mechanism; Frequency:21.600 vibrations per hour. Chronographs already rely heavily on subdials for their function but this design, influenced by their 1896 One Hertz and Parallax Tourbillon models, relegates everything but the chronograph hand to a subdial. The rhodium-plated subdials are elevated from the main dial, which has a grey and satin-grained finish, by stainless steel bases matching their profiles. A smart choice as it gives an effective depth to the dial that looks good and distinguishes this from what we see often, which are slightly recessed ones. The hours and minutes, located at 1 o’clock, are expressed with Lancette hands and the hours are denoted with crisp, trapezoidal indexes. The 30-minute counter, located at the base of the dial, features a Breguet-style hand with an instantaneous jumping mechanism and the seconds display resides at 9 o’clock. The same style of the Breguet hand at the 30-minute counter is also used for the main chronograph hand. This points to a 60-second scale which means this watch will be used for timing because it lacks a tachymeter scale. This isn’t a negative for me since I’ve had a chrono for some time and have never used it to find the speed of something or distance traveled. Plus, for a watch that’s going for a dressy look, that omission helps clean up the dial. The chronograph action is the same; one push of the top pusher to activate another to stop and one push of the bottom one to reset. I would direct my attention to 4 o’clock on the dial for that last step. Instead of doing an “open heart” display on the balance, they’ve opened an aperture exposing the centrifugal governor that bursts into life, not only serving a functional role but delivering a wonderful, animated performance. Additionally, there’s a power reserve indicator at 11 o’clock equipped with a pointer connected to the track in a way that gives it a floating effect. The dial looks fantastic, with small areas like the visible screws and centers of the heat-blued hands being mirror polished. A good bit of polishing also goes into dressing the case which in the configuration of their 1941 collection, named lovingly after their father’s birth year, that has a distinctive lug shape. This case is available in either steel or tantalum. Tantalum is a great material for a watch case. It’s twice the density of steel, corrosion-resistant, bioinert, and lighter than gold. It should feel very comfortable on the wrist, accounting for its lighter weight, profile, and a sweet spot that is its dimensions of 40×11.3mm. Thankfully, this doesn’t suffer from the necessary yet annoying problem other chronographs have of being too thick, since the new caliber G-04 was developed in-house with an integrated chronograph.
Keeping everything classical, the caliber G-04 is a cam-actuated chronograph with a column-wheel and lateral coupling, a combination synonymous with high-end watchmaking. Mindful that chronograph movements are often subject to harsh forces that can sometimes scar hammers and bend hands, The Horological Brothers conceived a less aggressive system, a ‘soft reset’ mechanism. The first of its kind. A centrifugal governor, remember that, slows down the reset function. Their efforts on preserving the movement are joined by ruby jeweled hammers that lessen their impact. Special care is also given to the variable inertia balance, with a Philips terminal overcoil enhancing isochronism, the winding system, and the keyless works, featuring a conical winding pinion and crown-wheel, delivering a smooth winding action. It does all of this while looking spectacular. Here we can see techniques like micro-blasting, circular graning, engraving in relief on the bridges, spotting on the main plate, and hand brushing and polishing to bring everything together. Add a good sprinkling of gold chatons, black polished screws (using diamond paste), jewels and the result is something that has been done through old techniques but whose appearance is extremely modern. My favorite form of finishing.
The ‘Premiere Edition’ of the 1941 Grönograaf encased in tantalum is limited to just 25 pieces and retails for € 165,000. Thereafter, Grönefeld the stainless steel versions will be release in a limited quantity of 188 pieces retailing for € 155,000.