It’s always a pleasure to report about watches which come from our home country. And with the Grönefeld ‘horological brothers’ you know it’s gonna be special when they invite you for a sneak preview. So last week we took a road trip across the country to visit them in their hometown Oldenzaal (in the east of The Netherlands). For those who are not familiar with Grönefeld and their watchmaking, we have covered their One Hertz and the Remontoire on multiple occasions in the past. Their watchmaking is on another level and when it comes to finishing you will have a challenge to find movements that outrank these.
Ten years after their first Grönefeld watch, they are launching their first automatic wristwatch. Where previous models came with manual winding (complicated) movements, it was time to create the first self-winding Grönefeld watch. “Entry level” doesn’t do their watchmaking justice, it just indicates that this is the most affordable watch in their line-up. As you can expect from this watch is finished to the excellent Grönefeld specifications.
When you think of Grönefeld, you think of perfection on all levels. To achieve their level of finish they spend countless hours working on the parts of the movement. Just to give you an impression, they spend up to 10 hours polishing each of the stainless steel bridges (by hand). During our visit, we took some close-ups with a special macro lens. Tim doesn’t get nervous about capturing any imperfection. While leaning back in his chair he states: “This is what we do best.“. And no matter where you look, this watch is impeccable. Each and every part and detail has been carefully worked on for the best possible result.
First, let us explain the name Principia. It’s simplified from Sir Isaac Newton’s ‘Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica’. In a three book publication, he formulated his laws of motion and universal gravitation which is considered one of the most important works in the history of science. They were the foundation of classical mechanics and a perfect name for the first Grönefeld automatic winding watch.
For the Principia Automatic, Grönefeld used their 1941 case which is named after the birth year of heir father Sjef. Sized 39.5mm, it is available in red gold, white gold and stainless steel. Each of the lugs is attached to the case with two hidden titanium screws on the inside of the case. Due to this construction, each lug can be removed for maintenance or replacement in case of serious damage. Something no-one hopes to encounter of course. But in the unlikely event it happens you don’t need to worry.
When looking at the movement you will recognise the Grönefeld look and feel right away. The bridges are shaped as ‘bell gables’ resembling facades of old Dutch houses. Each one bevelled by hand to shiny perfection as mentioned earlier. The micro-blasted center gives them a nice contrast. Same goes for the 22-karat solid red gold monobloc rotor which powers the movement. For maintenance-free performance, it has been fitted with a ceramic ball bearing.
In total there are 226 parts used to create this movement. This includes 31 jewels which are partially set in solid gold chatons. For optimum performance, the Grönefeld 1941 Principia Automatic is fitted with a free-sprung hairspring. As the length is always the same, precision is adjusted by screws in the balance wheel. Regulating performance is more precise although it is also more time-consuming.
Depending on your taste this watch is available in various configurations. Ranging from stainless steel to red or white gold for the case with a choice of dials and straps. The dials are made out if solid silver which gives it some subtle details due to the different levels. Unless you choose the lacquered dial which comes without the subtle steps. However, it comes with the traditional Grönefeld logo as used by their grandfather, Johan Grönefeld, back in 1912.
Where the Principia isn’t a limited edition, it will be limited in production. Like any of their watches they take time to produce due to the extensive level of finishing. All of that hard work is beautifully visible through the sapphire case back. Each movement will have a gold plate which holds the watch number. This dial also comes with an orange ’60’ in the minute subdial. Consider this a patriotic reference to our home country as we have a thing for orange.
Each watch comes with a high-quality watch-winder from Bernard Favre. Not only do they look great but you are always ensured that your watch is fully wound and running on time. So even when you are not wearing it you get to enjoy your Principia.
You can acquire the Grönefeld 1941 Principia starting at € 29,950 in stainless steel. Prices for the versions in precious metals are € 37.300 (red gold) and € 38.750 (white gold).
For more info head over the official Grönefeld website.
Bert Buijsrogge has worked in the real-estate business for 15 years and combined his passion for watches and photography over the years. He became famous for his watch photography and created a specific branded watch calendar for a number of... read more