Chatting with the independent watchmaker Bart Grönefeld at Baselworld 2017.
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Together with his brother Tim, created one of the most interesting watches of 2016 – the mighty 1941 Remontoire.
Dutch watchmakers in the third generation, Bart and Tim Grönefeld began their careers at the Swiss manufactory Renaud et Papi, producing complicated movements for several renowned brands. After returning to Netherlands, the brothers have started their own business, creating exquisite dressy pieces with some unusual complications. Over the last few years they had scored two big wins at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. In 2014, the Parallax Tourbillon has won the Best Tourbillon category, and two years later 1941 Remontoire was triumphant in the Men’s category. Bart and Tim always work together and, according to their own words, almost never argue on creative issues.
So what' new for Grönefeld this year?
You are now looking at 1941 Remontoire with constant force mechanism. This watch was launched last year, and won the Men’s watches category at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.This year we are launching the same watch actually but now it’s available in stainless steel case and with bespoke dials made by our very good friend Kari Voutilainen. We partnered up to make some beautiful dials. More and more customers asked us for bespoke pieces, and now we are able to satisfy their needs.
How the idea of this collaboration was born?
It started quite funny actually. Last year when we launched the normal version of 1941 Remontoire Kari Voutilainen came to buy one. We decided to buy some of his beautiful dials in return. He now owns a dial factory and it’s nice to keep it busy. We are not really the competitors of each other. Our customers often have the watches from both our brands. We are friends and we are collaborating. You know, life is too short to make enemies.
What’s the hardest part of being an independent brand nowadays?
We have a lot of challenges as the independents. We do our watches from A to Z, we do the marketing, we do everything. But still the biggest challenge is to create another mind-blowing watch.
What’s your favorite part of being at Baselworld?
Meeting people mostly. Sure, we’re all here for business, to meet the press, to create the buzz, but as Sarpaneva nailed it, don't forget to share some beers with friends.
Aug. 16, 2017