Tim Grönefeld is a Dutch watchmaker, brother to Bart and collectively they form the brand Grönefeld. Two of the most 'bon vivant' individuals found in the world of modern independent watchmaking today.
1. What did your father do? what did your mother do? Describe briefly your childhood?
My Father and mother had a Jewelry store in our City Oldenzaal in the Netherlands. My father is also a watchmaker and he took over the shop from my grandfather. My grandfather started his atelier in 1912. I am the 3th generation together with my brother of watchmakers in our family. I had a very nice childhood with a lot of watersport, sailing, windsurfing and cycling. Also I had and still have a lot of the same friends where I am very proud of. We still spent a lot of time together.
Until today my father (1941) and mother (1944) are still alive. My father is almost every day in the Atelier to help with some small things like repairing tools and do some watch deliveries and helps with shopping things for our atelier etc.
2. As a child did you have any driving ambition? What did you want to be?
Since a small kid I was always playing with my fathers tools in his workshop. I always wanted to work with my hands and technical tings. Also I liked to work on my motorcycle and especially on the engine…. I did not really know what I wanted to be but sure it has something to do with technique.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
The first few meters on my bicycle without falling down. I still have this on movie.
4. Have you ever had another profession? What did you do?
I never had an other profession. Always a watchmaker J
5. Who have you worked for in the past? What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in.
After school (Wostep) I went to Renaud et Papi and worked on complicated watches together with some famous people at this moment. Names like Stephen Forsey, Robert Greubel, Peter Speake Marin, my Brother Bart Grönefeld. After 6 months I became responsible for the Tourbillons watches and for the timing from all the watches.
In the weekends we spent a lot of time with the MC Gonigle Brothers and Stepan Sarpaneva here we talked also a lot about watches….
After 6 years (1998) I went back to the Netherlands to start our (me and my Brother Bart) own atelier. Here we started the aftersales for Breitling. After a few years we were with 14 watchmakers. Only working behind the scenes didn’t satisfy me and then we decide to start our own brand. We wanted the show the world what we can do. And so it all started with a Tourbillion Minute-repeater witch we launched in 2008.
6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
When I was very young I worked in a restaurant cleaning the tables and glasses. I did this for one day……and give up.
I preferred cleaning cars from my family and make some small money instead of cleaning glasses and make more money.
7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
I know that I am very lucky, so far I didn’t have a very hard moment in my life. If there are some small problems I am always looking for a solution to solve the problem.
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you? What are your greatest inspirations?
My father had the strongest influence on me because of him I could go and study in Switzerland (Wostep) and there it all started with my knowledge about High end watchmaking. This has changed my life completely in a positive way. And until today I do what I like and don’t see it as work J
Together with my brother we travel a lot and we talk and think a lot about our next creations. Also when we go for a drink together with friends we get sometimes the best ideas J
9. What are you most proud of?
That we have won twice the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. One for the best Tourbillon and one for the best men’s watch.
This is really a crown on our work.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
If you want to be watch maker start as young as possible. I started mechanical school on my 12th age and started watchmaking in the Netherlands when I was 15 years young. One the age of 21 I went to Switserland for WOSTEP together with Maarten Pieters. Maarten Pieters is now the General Director at the Wostep school.
You will need a lot of time and experience to be a good watchmaker.
Think twice and make a good business plan before you step in the watch industry as an independent brand.
11. Name three things on your bucket list
1. I like to travel with my Family to the south of Africa to see the big 5.
2. Take my kids to the watch shows like SIHH and Baselworld.
3. See and make sure that Grönefeld is successful and that every body in the company is happy to do his job.
12.Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years time.
In 10 years there will be even more smart wearable’s. I don’t call them smart watches because for me they are no watches. Anyway this will help young people to wear watches in the near future. I think the watch industry will be growing in 10 Years time.