The Horological Brothers Grönefeld: Video Interview With Some Surprising (And Revealing) Questions And Answers
by Martin Green
Nothing is as effective against a cold winter morning with gusting winds as a warm welcome.
And a warm welcome is exactly what I received when I walked past the Basilica of St. Plechelm into the old city center of Oldenzaal and into the workshop of the Grönefeld brothers. Hot coffee, cookies, and Tim Grönefeld were what awaited me there, soon joined by his brother Bart.
The area I entered is in essence a showroom, yet the cabinets were devoid of product with no watch in sight. Large posters and an array of awards were all that told me that I was here at the home of one of the most successful independent brands in the world.
The Grönefelds have been so successful that they cannot keep watches in stock, and people who order one of their models right now will not receive it for at least another year.
However, I am not here to buy a watch, but rather to talk with Bart and Tim about watchmaking.
I was joined by Camiel Gielkens, CEO of Schouten & Nelissen, an international organization aimed at learning and development for professionals as well as executive coaching, and Jorn van Wijk, CEO of New Heroes, a company offering courses to improve soft skills.
Both gentlemen are not here by accident, as Quill & Pad played an essential role in their transformation from men who like watches to bona-fide connoisseurs and collectors with an eye for the exceptional and a taste for the refined.
For them, Grönefeld has become a household name and even part of their chauvinistic pride. This is surprising, as in watchmaking the Netherlands doesn’t seem much like a global market of particular interest.
Yet upon investigation, you see that the Netherlands’ role in high-end watchmaking is disproportionate to the country’s size and legacy in watchmaking.
Aside from Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695), who invented the pendulum and the balance spring, the vast majority of its reputation has been established in this generation, with the Grönefelds in the thick of it.
Brought up in a family of watchmakers, they became watchmakers of their own, which allowed them to create the movements and watches they had in their heads. While still repairing (and creating) watches for major Swiss brands, they started to make these watches a reality with little success at the beginning. Until people began to take notice.
Now their biggest challenge is to manage the growth and find time to sit behind the workbench themselves, a place of happiness for them.
While five watchmakers work with the utmost concentration to create the watches that bear Bart and Tim’s family name upstairs, the Horological Brothers deal with Camiel Gielkens’ questions. And I do mean that in the nicest way; there are a few cringe worthy moments here.
The questions focus not so much on the latest and greatest models and their technical capabilities, but more on how the brothers built their brand, what their challenges are, and how it is to work with one’s brother on a daily basis in a company you both own.
They also talk about business plans and how to apply rhyme and reason to a topic ruled by passion and resulting in a product nobody really knows (but nearly everybody owns).
Please enjoy this somewhat different interview.
For more information, please visit www.gronefeld.com.