Watches: Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon 1912 (+live pics)
By Thierry Ané on April 30, 2014
Independent Dutch luxury brand Grönefeld made its debut in 2008 with nothing less than a tourbillon minute repeater timepiece developed and produced in-house. It is with the One Hertz model introduced in 2010, however, that Bart and Tim Grönefeld won the heart of many watch connoisseurs thanks to a unique deadbeat seconds that takes centre stage on the dial as well as an impeccable movement finish with a very personal aesthetic.
Over the years, the two brothers showed how versatile this model can be with versions ranging from truly contemporary like the Fire model with its bright orange accents, to timeless classic like the One Hertz Platinum with a beautiful blue dial, to technical and stealth in the One Hertz Techniek Nocturne presented last year.
For the 2014 edition of Baselworld, though, the talented brothers came up with an entirely new model that sets a new standard in terms of tourbillon accuracy and should meet the same success as its One Hertz predecessor.
The new timepiece, named Parallax Tourbillon 1912, is housed in the same 43.00 x 12.50 mm case as the One Hertz model. It is introduced in two versions only different by the material of the case and folding buckle: the first one is in steel while the second iteration uses red gold. They are otherwise technically identical.
Let us start by explaining the reason for the “Parallax” name. As you may know, parallax is defined as the apparent change in position of an object when the observer changes its own position. The optic effect means that your reading of the seconds on a watch may be incorrect due to the angle at which you look at the dial. A huge problem for a tourbillon model whose raison d’être is precisely accuracy! To minimize this problem, the central seconds hand is here exceptionally close to the outer chapter ring with the seconds indexes.
Needless to say, these new timepieces are animated by a calibre entirely built in-house. Known as G-03, this manually-wound movement with one-minute flying tourbillon escapement features off-centred hours and minutes as well as a central seconds hand as discussed before. A sectorial power reserve indicator allows you to assess how much of the 72-hour maximum energy is left. The movement also features a mode indicator on the dial: instead of pulling the crown to set the watch as usual, one needs to press it to switch between a winding (“W”) or setting (“S”) mode. Hence, there is no risk of damaging the fragile crown stem.
In addition, this high-end movement is equipped with a hacking seconds system for maximum accuracy. This means that whenever the setting mode is selected, the balance wheel and entire tourbillon cage are stopped and the two second hands (the central one and that on the tourbillon) return to the zero position. The sapphire case back allows you to admire the superlative finish of this movement with the immediately recognisable aesthetic common to all Grönefeld’s models.
The dial of these stunning timepieces is a marvel of equilibrium and clarity. Composed of seven individual segments, it is crafted in solid silver with a beautiful frosted finish and perfectly polished bevelled edges. Flame-blued hands are used for maximum legibility and the entire layout is perfectly balanced with the hours and minutes dial (1 o’clock) and tourbillon cage (7 ‘clock) forming an inclined figure “8” with the power reserve and mode indicator on both sides. To make the flying tourbillon even more spectacular, Bart and Tim Grönefeld lifted it out of the movement and above the dial. Another neat addition is the fact that the one-armed balance wheel bridge of this one-minute flying beauty always runs parallel to the central seconds hand!
This exceptional model is limited to 12 pieces in its steel version and 28 for the more luxurious red gold interpretation. The former retails for US$ 185,380 while the latter costs US$ 189,795. Personally, considering the anecdotal difference in price, I would not hesitate and go for the gold model but apart from that, these are two stunning examples of fine watchmaking at its best.