The Dutch watch scene might not have the same aura as the Swiss one, but it still is rather active knowing the size of the country… and the constant hegemony of the Jura-based brands on the industry. Alongside names such as Grönefeld or Holthinrichs, one of the Netherlands’ best kept horological secrets is named Christiaan van der Klaauw, both a man and a watch brand with a strong identity and impressive mechanical knowledge. Today, we can share that the company has been acquired by one of the most talented Dutch master watchmakers, Pim Koelsag, a man that has been behind most technical developments at Frederique Constant and Ateliers deMonaco, including the groundbreaking Monolithic oscillator.
Who is Christiaan van der Klaauw?
Christiaan van der Klaauw refers of course to the name of a Dutch watch brand but mostly to the man behind the creation of this company and its watches. Christiaan started his own business in 1974 and presented his first clock with astronomical complications. In 1989, he received an honorable membership of the Swiss Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI), whose members include some of the greatest living watchmakers – such as François-Paul Journe, Svend Andersen, Vincent Calabrese, Vianney Halter or Kari Voutilainen.
His first wristwatch was presented in 1991 and in 1999, the master watchmaker presented what’s today his most acclaimed model, the CVDK Planetarium, equipped with the smallest mechanical planetarium in the world. In 2009, a new era began for Christiaan van der Klaauw. He was succeeded by the Dutch designer Daniël Reintjes. Daniël Reintjes had known Christiaan for many years. He got on extremely well with the watchmaker he respected so highly, brought Maurice Doppert and Maria Reintjes van Laar into the project as shareholders and started repositioning the brand. The new directors decided to focus exclusively on astronomical watches.
Due to this highly specific expertise in astronomical watches, Van Cleef & Arpels teamed up with CVDK to create its most complicated watch ever in 2014, the Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication. The collaboration continued in 2018 with the presentation of the Lady Arpels Planetarium. Both were equipped with a complex Planetarium module developed in Switzerland by Christiaan van der Klaauw, exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels. In 2021, CvdK wins the “Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize” at the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Geneve, with the Planetarium Eise Eisinga.
Today, the brand retains its focus solely on astronomical watches, with technically impressive watches such as the Real Moon Tides, the Real Moon Joure and, of course, contemporary expressions of the Planetarium.
Who is Pim Koeslag?
Born in Almelo, Holland in 1981, Pim Koeslag studied at the Watchmaker school in Amsterdam, during that time he did an internship at Gronefeld watches. In 2002 he was elected “best student of the year” and therefore was sent to Geneva to attend an intensive watchmakers training at Patek Philippe. When he received his degree as a watchmaker, Patek Philippe offered Pim a Job but instead decided to join a watch company that he visited during a class trip earlier, Frederique Constant. During that visit, the founder of Frederique Constant – Peter Stas (also a Dutchman) – asked the 15 people in the classroom who could help him create a manufacture of movements. Only Pim replied: “I don’t know how to develop a movement yet, but I love to challenge!…” And this is how a 20-year story started. At that time, Pim was the first watchmaker of the company that counted 10 people in total.
Every year since, Frederique Constant introduced one or more new movements per year under the responsibility and supervision of Pim. In total and under Pim’s guidance, Frederique Constant developed and introduced 30 different manufacture movements including tourbillons, perpetual calendars and, probably the most impressive of all and his last work at FC, the Monolithic innovation. Pim applied for over 10 patents over his career at FC. The company grew fast and Pim grew professionally with the company and became Master watchmaker and Technical Director. He was responsible for 65 watchmakers, the quality department, product department, after-sales service department and industrialization.
In addition to being the technical director of Frederique Constant, Pim Koeslag was also co-founder with Peter Stas a high-end brand named Ateliers deMonaco – with movements benefitting from the technologies developed for FC, or vice-versa. Since 2008, Ateliers deMonaco got 4 patents and successfully introduced 6 manufacture movements, including a minute repeater, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar and a flyback chronograph.
The new Dutch connection
When Pim Koeslag started to study watchmaking in the Netherlands at the end of the 1990s, he already knew that the best watchmaker in the country was Christiaan van der Klaauw and he thus decided to pay him a visit at his atelier in the Dutch city of Heerenveen. In the final year of the watchmaking school (2003) Pim visited again the atelier of Christiaan van der Klaauw, this time to personally hand over his curriculum vitae. Instead of offering Pim the job he wanted so much, Christiaan advised Pim to continue to work for Frederique Constant, in order to gain experience in the Swiss watch business… Something that van der Klaauw has regretted over the years.
Now, it’s time for the Dutch watchmaker to fly solo. And for that, he has announced having purchased a majority stake in the watch brand Christiaan van der Klaauw, with the remaining part in the hands of the previous shareholders, Daniel en Maria Reintjes. Pim explains that Daniel and Maria will keep their current positions as CEO/Creative Director and Marketing Director respectively for a period of time to ensure a good transition of the company and support Pim in his mission to bring the CVDK to the highest watchmaking level possible.
Even though too early to give details, the idea of Pim Koeslag is to continue the legacy of Christiaan van der Klaauw and his work on astronomical watches. New models will be presented in the near future, new variations of existing models and some redesign work on the current collection. The overall focus of the brand will, however, remain intact. At the same time, the idea of Pim is to consolidate the existing network of partners but also to develop new markets and to present the watch at some of the most important watch fairs around the globe.
We’ll surely come back on this new step in the lives of Christiaan van der Klaauw and Pim Koeslag in the near future. For more details about CdvK, please visit www.klaauw.com.