The Grönefeld brother
The Grönefeld brothers’ upbringing in a small town in the Eastern part of the Netherlands was permeated in horology. In the evenings and on the weekends, as children, they used to play in their grandfather Johan's workshop, surrounded by instruments and by the sound of their ceaseless ticking. As a gifted watchmaker, Johan also looked after the clock of the nearby church, dating back to 1240. On his death, this custodianship was passed onto his son, the Grönefeld brothers’ father. The latter's year of birth was commemorated in the name of the 1941 Remontoire.
Watchmaking having made a strong imprint on them in their respective youths, Bart and Tim Grönefeld both trained in horology, cutting their teeth at famed complications specialist Renaud et Papi, alongside notable contemporaries such as Stephen Forsey and Stepan Sarpaneva. Producing no more than a few dozen watches a year, the Grönefeld brothers create extremely high-quality pieces, having commanded the admiration and respect of none other than Philippe Dufour, amongst others.
The inspiration for the 1941 Remontoire harkens back to the brothers’ childhood, and the memories of the clock their grandfather and father used to maintain, which featured a seldom-seen, and highly technical form of power distribution: a remontoire. Providing a more constant delivery of energy to the escapement, a remontoire in theory offers greater precision. Celebrated watchmaker Dr. George Daniels, describes the complication thusly,
"The use of the remontoire is by far the best method of smoothing the power supply, but it is complex and costly to make. For this reason watches with remontoires are very rare, and this, combined with their attractive action, gives them a special place in the affections of the connoisseur of mechanics. The fact that the mechanism is quite unnecessary merely adds to its charm."
The core of the 1941 Remontoire is the movement. From a technical perspective, it features an eight second remontoire, which serves to deliver a constant amount of power to the escapement using a secondary wheel, visible through the dial at nine o’clock. Consisting of 258 individual components, the caliber features over a dozen different finishing techniques, from snailing to frosting. The bridges, shaped like the bell gable roofs of Dutch houses, are fashioned out of steel, which is much more difficult and costly to work with, than brass or silver.
Each individual bridge requires dozens of steps and up to ten hours of work, including mirror polishing of the screws, and chamfering rims and slots, demonstrating the brothers’ fascination with depth and light. The brothers only ever produced 188 of these movements in total, all of which are now understood to have been made, cased and sold, with this red gold example being one of the earliest pieces, as confirmed by the movement number (1X/188).
The case, measuring 39.5mm across and just 10.5mm thick, is made out of a 5N red gold alloy, known for its colour intensity and hardness. Its sculpted profile is executed with a specially shaped cutter, to create its characteristic hollowed, concave recesses and convex surfaces.
Different styles of finishing are featured throughout the three-level solid silver dial, which has the remontoire exposed at nine o’clock. Every eight seconds, the remontoire quickly spins and stops, delivering energy to the escapement.
This Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire is accompanied by its original outer box, inner box, Grönefeld travel cube, warranty card and dust cloth. It comes on a bespoke Anthracite strap in grained leather and is accompanied by the original Grönefeld petrol blue alligator strap and manufacturers red gold tang buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Grönefeld Remontoire 1941 will be subject to 20% VAT on the selling price. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.