In the watchmaking industry, perhaps The Netherlands is one of the often-neglected countries. What most people do not know is that it is home to some humble watch brands that offer very unique and high-quality timepieces.
In fact, its watchmaking traditions started as early as the 17th century. A Dutchman, Christiaan Huygens himself published a book entitled Horologium 1658. More so, he was the inventor of the pendulum clock which is a significant breakthrough in the world of watches.
Centuries later, different Dutch brands are still introducing vital technical innovations and one-of-a-kind designs in the watch industry. In this post, we present some watch brands that are shaping the Dutch watch industry.
Top Dutch Brands
Founded by a father and son tandem, Jordy and Ton Cobelens, TW Steel is a Dutch company founded in 2005 and has quickly become one of the most popular watch brands across the globe.
Particularly, the brand triumphs with its oversized watches and chronographs. While most other brands only have up to 40mm dial, TW Steel takes pride in its 45mm and 50mm watch dials. For its movements, TW Steel timepieces utilize Japanese automatic movements supplied by Citizen Miyota and Swiss quartz movements provided by Ronda.
To further make its name known, TW Steel is backed by a number of brand ambassadors. Among them are Kelly Rowland, Mick Doohan, and Mitchell Niemeyer.
Currently, the brand features five collections – the CEO Tech, ACE Genesis, Maverick, Ace Aternus, and Grandeur Tech.
Van der Gang
The Van der Gang watch brand is named after another Dutch horological innovator and watchmaker – Mr. Wybe Van der Gang. Van der Gang entered the watch industry just in the early 2000s and it was able to create its in-house movements by 2008.
Although, Van der Gang initially produced parts for the medical, military and aerospace industries, the company, later on, shifted to watches because Mr. Van der Gang perceived that it would be more thrilling to work with finer and more complicated products.
Van der Gang timepieces are well-designed and executed, shunning away from any gimmicks in watchmaking. They are also said to be perfectly balanced and simply elegant with each timepiece being perfected to the smallest detail. As such, Van der Gang produces less than 200 watches per year, making each one a truly limited edition watch.
Dingemans Mechanische Horloges
More popular as simply D.M.H., Dingemans Mechanische Horloges is recognized for its made-to-order timepieces.
This Dutch microbrand was founded by Fred Dingemans who took interest in watchmaking since he was a kid. As such, to build his own watch company, he restored the machines that his father used for watchmaking. These were the same machines that he played with when he was younger. cBeing a microbrand watch company, all its cases and crowns were produced in-house using the restored machines. The movements, on the other hand, are NOS automatic Tenor Dorley movements which are quite known because of their futuristic look.
D.M.H. produces only 24 timepieces each year. This intentionally limited production is in consideration of the fact that there are only two men working behind each timepiece – Fred Dingemans himself and a master watchmaker, Frans de Groot who helps with the disassembly and the movements.
More so, as each timepiece is personally being manufactured by the founder, he also works closely with his customers during the watchmaking process. Fred will provide some options and suggestions but it was all the customer’s choice as to how the timepiece will be designed and created – from the case, bezel, dial color, hand style, strap material, and even the position of the crown.
With this watchmaking partnership, having a D.M.H. watch doesn’t only give you the timepiece per se but lets you somehow experience the process as well. You would learn to appreciate each part, down to the tiniest detail.
Also, since it is handcrafted, you might notice some tiny imperfections on your watch, which makes it more sentimental and unique. Another downside that you may experience is that you might have to wait some months or years before the company could begin the production of your watch. However, once you begin with the process, you will realize that all the wait is worth it.
Van Ree Watches
The brand name comes from its founder himself, Daniël Floris Van Ree. He is a Dutch watchmaker who, even as a child, started to have a particular interest in the mechanisms behind a watch face. Since then, he took on the path to further his knowledge and skills in watchmaking. He took on the four-year training at the Watchmaking School and even received a training program for a Swiss watch brand.
He continued to work for various watch brands locally and internationally, and his experiences developed not only his skills but also knowledge in watchmaking.
With all these, Van Ree finally launched his own brand with its first watch that truly stands out among the rest – the Van Ree Personal DNA Watch.
The DNA Watch is a mechanical timepiece with a self-winding movement. Yet, what makes it special is that it comes with an actual physical DNA of the owner.
This DNA may be seen at the watch face by the 4 o’clock position through a see-through compartment. Its genetic code is also engraved on the ring surrounding the movement and on the back glass.
Prisma is considerably one of the oldest Dutch watch brands. It was started by a group of watchmakers way back in 1948. Prima was founded with the intent of offering high quality, elegant watches at reasonable prices. This remains to be the core mission and values of the brand.
Aside from being a really old watch brand, Prima is also one of the first brands that created watches using quartz movements. They were able to manufacture and timepieces are more affordable and more accurate. Yet, they also continued to create mechanical and gold watches.
Because of this dedication and commitment to their mission, Prisma has become widely popular not just in the Netherlands but also across the globe.
Grönefeld currently features five models in its watch collection – the 1941 Principia, 1941 Remontoire, Bespoke Watches, Parallax Tourbillon, and 1896 One Hertz.
Grönefeld was reinvented by brothers Bart and Tim Grönefeld. However, the brand traces its roots back to the Grönefeld’s grandfather’s workshop. The passion and craftsmanship in watchmaking have been passed down to generations that led to the foundation of Grönefeld watches.
Grönefeld brothers launched the brand with the mission to create elegant watches equipped with only the finest mechanisms and parts. The techniques used are those that have been passed on for three generations. In particular, the brand specializes in creating sophisticated complications.
When it comes to Dutch watch brand that specializes in tourbillon watches, MontieK is considered one of the most popular. It was established just in 2011 by Jean Tarée and MontieK watches can only be purchased through the brand’s website.
MontieK’s company mission is to produce quality tourbillon watches at very reasonable prices. All MontieK timepieces are wonderfully designed by watchmakers in the Netherlands while their movements came from the Tianjin See-Gull company located in China.
This young watch brand boasts of elegant tourbillons that are also reliable and accurate.
Quantuz was founded in 1992 by an Industrial designer and entrepreneur Paulus van Leeuwen. Primarily due to Leeuwen’s background, Quantuz timepieces are aesthetically designed down to the least visible surfaces. When it comes to attention to detail, Paulus van Leeuwen sure made that evident with Quantuz timepieces.
More so, Quantuz smoothly combines every material and design, such that each timepiece shows a boldly combined steel, titanium gold, and sapphire crystal. With such a design style, Quantuz watches are an epitome of perfectly executed simplicity and minimalism.
Not only that, but the brand also stands out because of its use of only premium quality Swiis quartz and Swiss automatic movements.
Currently, Quantuz features two new series – the Silk and Eleven.
Oozoo is another young watch brand that was first established in the Netherlands. Oozoo timepieces are more than just for keeping time; they are primarily fashion items.
Oozoo as a brand prioritizes on setting the new fashion trend with its products. Although, of course, it does not neglect accuracy and precision. Oozoo timepieces are of premium quality and are equipped with genuine leather and reliable movements.
With all these, Oozoo has quickly become widely popular internationally – particularly in Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, Poland, Austria, Italy, Spain, even Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Venezuela.
Paul and Tino Huet founded the Huet Brothers brand in 1998 that designs and manufactures timepieces and automobiles from Hillegom, Netherlands. Paul Huet is the man behind the mechanical aspects of the Huet Brothers automobiles. Meanwhile, Tino Huet is the one who creates and designs watches although he also designs and shapes cars too.
Huet Brothers brand currently features the HB Benefactor 2018 Collection. This Swiss-made chronograph was first launched in 2006 and has been further improved. The HB Benefactor 2018 is equipped with Swiss Ronda movements, 100M waterproof, with luminous hands and numbers, encased with 316L stainless steel, and premium quality leather strap.
Kees Engelbarts is a Dutch watch brand established in 1997 and named after its founder who specializes in a Mokume Gane, a Japanese technique that translates to “wood grain metal”.
Kees Engelbarts timepieces are all hand-crafted by its founder which is why the brand limits its production. The brand is specifically well-known because of its skeleton watches the feature very unique and organic masterpieces.
Moreover, Kees Engelbarts also creates customized timepieces according to the preference of its customers. As a customer, you may specialize the material, movement, and its decoration. Since Kees Engelbarts is a master engraver, you can be assured that your ordered timepiece is a masterpiece down to its tiniest detail.
Kuyl Watches by Jan Jaap Kuyl is a very young watch brand. It was established with the vision and conviction of creating affordable and customizable timepieces that are of top quality.
The brand prioritizes its customers’ personal preferences by allowing them to put together watch components that will perfectly reflect their style and personality. The bezel style, dial and hands color, and even the strap material are available for customization so they can create either classic-looking timepieces or eccentric ones.
The assurance that Kuyl Watches offers is that they only use high-quality materials and parts, and Swiss movements.
Christiaan van der Klaauw
This brand name is associated with only one type of watches – astronomical watches.
Christiaan van der Klaauw is a namesake watch brand established back in 1974. van der Klaauw is a famous Dutch watchmaker known particularly for taking Astronomy as its main source of inspiration. This made the brand’s timepieces very unique even up to present.
With the astronomical complications van der Klaauw has incorporated in his clocks and timepieces, he became an honorable member of the AHCI (Swiss Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants) in 1989 and won an award for the most innovative movement design in 1992.
Even though the ownership of the Christiaan van der Klaauw brand has been transferred and shared, the brand is still committed to the production of only handmade astronomical watches.
Dutch watch brands prove that small, humble names also have a lot to offer. Although they are not as widely known as the Swiss and American brands, Dutch watch brands offer premium quality and extremely unique products.