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Indie watchmaker Grönefeld stops taking orders as demand overwhelms supply

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Soaring demand is generating record waiting lists for watches from Europe’s leading independent watchmakers and has forced Grönefeld to stop taking orders until further notice.

The United States is one of Grönefeld’s biggest market where it is represented by Cellini Jewelers, Manfredi Jewels, Martin Pulli Fine Jewelry & Watches, Oster Jewelers, Passion Fine Jewelry, Rostovsky Watches Inc, Sydel & Sydel Jewelry and Timeless Luxury Watches, many of which have already spoken about the challenges of supply for independent watchmakers.

Grönefeld brothers and co-founders, Tim and Bart, have written on their website and social media that they find themselves in the regrettable situation where they can no longer accept new orders “until further notice”.

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“The confidence shown by our customers and retailers has been wonderful, albeit a tad overwhelming,” the brothers admit.

“Aware of the increasing demand for our products, we recently moved to new, larger premises and recruited five new watchmakers. However, the necessary skills we require are not simply available off-the shelf, hence we cannot easily recruit additional personnel. Indeed, we need time to train new staff and instill in them our company’s values. At no stage will we ever countenance compromising our standards,” they insist.

The Principia Automatic currently has a three year waiting list.

The Netherlands-based company moved into a new building — a former school where Bart and Tim first went to kindergarten in the early 1970s — in the summer.

The business sources components from a number of small, independent suppliers, many of which have been forced to suspend production several times over the past 18 months of the pandemic.

In time the expanded operation will be able to increase production, but demand has overwhelmed the team for now.

Tim and Bart describe: “The strength of Grönefeld is that we build complicated and ingenious mechanisms, characteristics which will remain at the heart of what we do. A perfect illustration of this philosophy is the 1941 Remontoire, a watch endowed with a constant force mechanism. This limited edition model, restricted to just 188 pieces, sold out just over a year ago. Since then, we have only been able to accept orders for the 1941 Principia, our automatic timepiece. However, once again, the popularity of this model has exceeded our expectations, culminating in a lengthy lead time, currently in excess of three years.

“Furthermore, we are mindful that no company can stand still. Since 2015, we have been working on a new, exciting timepiece and plan to unveil it later this year. In order to fulfill orders over the coming years, we have set aside capacity for this new creation.”

As card-carrying members of the independent watchmakers fraternity, Tim and Bart want the challenge they are facing to benefit other indies.

“Clearly, we are conscious that some of you may be disappointed that you are unable to place an order at this juncture. Nevertheless, we hope to remedy this situation in due course. In the interim period, we would urge you to consider a timepiece from an alternative independent watchmaker and discover a world where creativity and craftsmanship often co-exist,” they urge.

Look out for the October edition of WATCHPRO where we have an in depth interview with Bart Grönefeld.

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