A little while ago, we introduced you to an exciting, young Dutch brand named Ketelaars Watches. Not the easiest names for non-Dutch people, but the watches should do the talking. Now, a few months after our first coverage, we revisit his workshop, talk about future plans, and do a deep dive into one of his current creations, the Ketelaars Watches 3D Terra in Motion.
Stefan Ketelaars is a young man, new in the field of watchmaking, but already creating some exciting stuff. He isn’t shy about his ambitions, aiming for nothing short of Haute Horlogerie, with some in-house developed complications, including quite possibly a tourbillon. In terms of creativity, ambition, and drive, he shows tremendous potential. Time will tell though as many have tried before and some have failed.
When visiting his workshop in Waalre, the Netherlands, the practical set-up stands out. Using his engineering skills, Ketelaars develops his own machines, including a CNC machine fitted to his current needs. This will soon be replaced by a new one though, catering to his future endeavours. His thought process is really practical, and, in my previous article, I’ve given an example of his from-idea-to-working-concept lead-time of 17 days for one of his complications. That is testament to his way of working; methodical and fast forward.
As we’re talking fast forward, he shows me that he is constantly working on several things at the same time. Somehow, he manages to work on gradually improving his existing models, but also finds time to try out new things. If he thinks of doing a tourbillon, sketches are made in just a short period of time. Same story recently with a fusée-and-chain; the idea forms in his mind, is translated into renders, and only days later the first prototype parts were made. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen just which of his ideas make it into production, and in what order.
Talking to Stefan about his work, inside his workshop, I was impressed by how neat and tidy everything is. His approach and organization are like a tightly run ship. Over the past few months, Stefan has put effort into increasing his efficiency and at the same time his level of (in-house) watchmaking. He makes batches of the same parts to reduce production time, making a batch of globes in one go, or multiple pairs of hand-blued titanium hands. His CNC machine also allows him to cut his own gears, something only a few watchmakers do.
The Ketelaars 3D Terra in Motion
The 3D Terra in Motion is visually impressive, with lots of neat details. As with all Ketelaars watches by now, various treatments and finishes are applied, with the option to request custom finishing if desired. You can find handmade anglage, heat-blued (titanium) hands, obviously a hand-engraved and lacquered globe, a customizable nameplate, black-polished screws, heat-treated titanium dials, etc.
As a result, it’s highly unlikely that no two 3D Terra in Motion, or any other model for that matter, will be exactly the same. Every customer has, and I would advise you to do so, the option of requesting personal touches, thus creating a potential unique piece. Mind you, this could come at a premium depending on the type of request. This is applicable to all Ketelaars Watches: the Time in Motion, the 3D Terra in Motion and the Terra Luna.
Case and dial
The choice of movement necessitates a rather large case, as the movement itself already measures 36.6mm across (Unitas base). The 42mm steel case wears comfortable on the wrist though and feels a bit larger than it actually is. The case is sourced from a third-party supplier, no shame really as Stefan focusses on the movements for now. It’s likely he will attempt to make his own cases in the future as he strives to do more and more in-house. The case is finished in a high-gloss polish and fitted with an onion crown. It’s nothing overly fancy, does its job without distracting from the spectacle under the high-dome sapphire box crystal.
The dial is, of course, this watch’s party piece. The display for the hour and minutes is rerouted from the centre to the side, to allow for the additional day/night indicator in the lower-left side of the watch. The seconds indication is ditched, and hours and minutes are displayed by heat-blued titanium hands. The hour ring can either be engraved with Roman or Arabic numerals or even basic markers if desired. The gear train for the day/night indicator is visible from the hour and minutes stem all the way to the globe. The globe is fitted with two extra jewels, so the total comes to 19 instead of the standard 17 for the 6497/6498 movements.
Pretty much all the parts you see on the dial side are made by Stefan and could be altered upon request. He also offers an inverted balance wheel, so that it sits atop the dial instead of being visible through an opening only.
The 3D Terra in Motion relies on the reliable Unitas 6497 hand-wound calibre, although it has been extensively altered. This tried-and-tested movement can be adapted to do all sorts of things, and parts of it even serve as a base for tourbillons. Stefan Ketelaars goes through great lengths to offer something really different from this otherwise quite mundane looking movement. It isn’t overly fancy to begin with, of course, just a good, reliable calibre with enough space to go a little nuts.
The most significant modification Stefan does in the 3D Terra in Motion is the off-centred day/night indicator. Subsequently, time is also indicated off-centred, with an added gear train linking the globe to the hours and minutes display. The extra gears allow for the globe to move simultaneously with the passing of the hours. The globe measures 6.3mm in diameter, explaining the relatively high case and glass. It is hand-engraved by Stefan. Under a microscope, he removes material from the steel ball. Depth is created by using five shades of blue lacquer, which gradually go lighter towards shorelines of continents and islands. The globe is then finished with a clear resin to give it a smooth surface again.
Naturally, the basic specifications of the movement are familiar with its 3Hz frequency and 46 hours of power reserve. Stefan finishes the movements by hand as much as he can, with a circular, sunburst or straight graining or even hand-hammered finishing. All depends on the wishes of the customer. At a premium, Stefan also offers an in-house three-quarter bridge with various possible finishes and detailing.
Price and customization
As mentioned, a Ketelaars is open to all kinds of modifications. The different options of finishing and details allow you to create a true one-of-a-kind watch. This does affect the price of a watch of course, as with pretty much all brands, large or small. Prices for a Ketelaars watch start at just shy of EUR 4,000 excluding taxes, and go up to EUR 8,000 (again, not including taxes) for the Terra Luna. That is without additional personal requests of course, so prices may vary. Some degree of customization is offered within the base price, but that doesn’t cover everything of course.
For the amount of in-house parts and finishing, the prices seem rather attractive. Ketelaars Watches offers one of the most extensively modified ETA 6497/6498 adaptations available on the market today. All Ketelaars Watches are numbered in chronological order of completion, so there’s no choice of the production number. This also is regardless of the model, so number 10 can be a Time in Motion, with number 11 being a watch from one of the other two collections. For more information: Ketelaars Watches.
Note: One of the watches in the pictures shows a mistake in the engraving of “Ketelaars” in the ring surrounding the dial. This was corrected.