I found it difficult to articulate my thoughts on the 1941 Principia, and at the same time found myself in two camps with regards to how I felt about it. I didn’t want to present two sides of an argument and sound contradictory, and at the same time I really wanted to expose myself to the 1941 Principia’s allure and mystique. Thus, and before I delve into the piece’s intricacies, I want to apologise for my late delivery of this review.
The 1941 Principia presents itself in the same case as the 1941 Remontoire. It still sits at a very commendable 39.50mm in diameter and 10.50mm in thickness, and it still carries with it the hallmark contemporary style that we’ve all come to know and love with the 1941 Remontoire. The very wearable case is available in three different metals, two of which are precious. It’s available in red or white gold, or in the conventional stainless-steel.
There’s also a variety of dial-colour options, all coated in the base solid sterling silver material dial. The 1941 Principia is available with a cream lacquered dial with Roman numerals, a matt turquoise dial, a light blue dial, or the standard rhodium plated or gold-plated salmon dial. With respect to strap options, you’re presented with a variety of choices to play around with, and this array of unique selections can be accessed through the Grönefeld website. Very fun to use.
One of my favourite things about Grönefeld is their very small and very specific line of watches. Before the 1941 Principia
and excluding the bespoke pieces
they made, the Grönefeld name was represented by three very
different but very impressive
collections: the 1941 Remontoire;
the One Hertz; and of course, the Parallax Tourbillon. Each piece was, and still is,
one of the finest in their respective class,
and each collection was (is) a prime example genuine passion, ingenuity and
love for watchmaking.
Now, my initial reaction to the 1941 Principia was, to be quite honest with you, not great. Initially, and I’m going to say this throughout the article because my opinions and views have since changed, I was not impressed with the 1941 Principia. It felt a little bit misguided, almost as though the Grönefeld brothers were trying to capitalise on the recent success of their collaborative piece with Hodinkee. I didn’t take to it well, and I certainly did not agree with the integration of an automatic movement (why cover such an amazing movement with a rotor?). But then, as always, I let my emotional side calm down a little, and I saw the light.
The 1941 Principia is a watch that was made to be worn. Simply put, it is potentially the finest time-only, independently-produced watch made. A bold statement, I know. But hear me out. This piece has all the trimmings needed to make it destined to be a classic for Grönefeld. Whilst it initially ruffled my feathers, the 1941 Principia has since eased my nerves. You have a watch (albeit an expensive one, but we’ll get to that soon) that is available in an abundance of case material and dial colour variations. You have so much customisation ability in a watch that is now Grönefeld’s entry-level piece, it’s unheard of.
Whatever combination you choose, you’re still going to get the foundational look of the typical Grönefeld 1941. The main differentiating factor that the 1941 Principia has is with the cream lacquered dial. This has a distinct vintage look to it, and it’s clearly inspired by watches produced in the middle of the 20th century. Very nice to look at, but not my first choice. I rather enjoy the opulent but very inconspicuous look of the white-gold case, so if I were to order one, I would definitely pair it with the rhodium dial option. Superb piece you can easily dress up or down.
Before I noted a certain degree of disdain when the 1941 Principia was released, and this was mainly due to the option of having an automatic movement powering the piece. Why, oh why, would you want to cover such a perfect movement, I asked myself over and over again whilst looking at press release images of the Principia. Why the hell would anyone want to obscure what is otherwise a stunning example of a time-only movement? Well, I answered that before. I noted, and I will stand by this statement, that the 1941 Principia is a watch that was made to be worn.
As much as I love the romanticism of a manually wound watch unobscured by a rotor, I can fully understand (and now appreciate!) the fundamental reasoning of having an automatic movement powering a potential daily-wearer. Let’s be honest, it’s a pain in the ass having to wind your watch every day or so, with even the watch having the lengthiest power reserve having to be wound dozens of times. As fun and intuitive as that may be the first time you do it, mark my words doing it every couple of days gets as annoying as anything in the watch world.
So, with that before said, and going against what I’ve always said about movements, in the case of the 1941 Principia having a rotor winding the movement, Grönefeld got it absolutely right. No question about it. I’m not going to dissect the movement, too many other publications have, and I don’t want to repeat what they’ve said, as I’m sure they’ve all gone ape-shit with complimentary adjectives to describe it. I’m just going to leave it at that. The perfect movement befitting of the 1941 Principia’s purpose.
The Principia really hit a nerve with me. Initially (I think that’s the fourth time I’ve used the term; I did warn you though), the Principia was a no-go for me. Less that I didn’t like it and more that I didn’t understand it. But, as time went on and I allowed myself to come to terms with its existence and its purpose, I grew to love it. Now, instead of confusion and disdain, I have feels of want, lust, need. So, that must mean one thing: the Grönefeld 1941 Principia is one cracker watch!
The Grönefeld 1941 Principia costs €29,950 in stainless-steel, €37,300 in red-gold, and €38,750 in white-gold (which converts to roughly $48,000AUD, $60,000AUD and $62,500AUD, respectively).