As certified watch geeks, we often spend more time obsessing over the precise measurement of time, as opposed to observing the wonder of its actual passing. It’s a fanciful notion, perhaps, romantic even, but one that we all experience from the day we’re born. To celebrate this special relationship between life and time, newcomer Kneijnsberg & van Eijk presents its first watch, the Tree of Life. We spent some hands-on time with this whimsical beauty, discovering a new appreciation for the changing of the seasons and the passage of time.
Kneijnsberg & van Eijk is the brainchild of Brendan Horneman, who wears the hats of founder, owner and watchmaker. The brand, which derives its name from the respective grandmothers of Horneman and his wife, was established in 2016 and the Tree of Life is the first model to come to fruition, following numerous prototypes. In addition to Kneijnsberg & van Eijk, Horneman also works as watchmaker/operations manager at Revolo Custom-Made Watches, another start-up we have written about here and here.
As you’ve probably noticed already, the Tree of Life is not like most watches we cover here on MONOCHROME. I would even go as far to say it’s more like a piece of kinetic art for your wrist that also happens to tell the time. Presented in a beautifully sculpted steel rectangular case, with brushed finishes and lovely angles, it measures 51mm long x 38mm wide and is 14.8mm high.
The case height is comparable to pretty much every 7750-based chronograph, but the rectangular shape and the lack of sloping sides does seem to make it stand out. That’s why on the wrist it looks a bit chunky. That said, it does wear smaller than it appears and is definitely more comfortable than we anticipated.
The real drawcard here though is the stunning Mother of Pearl dial, complete with tree and ornately cut-out leaves. According to Horneman, the inspiration for this watch came when he was driving home after having his second child (which was a difficult birth). Driving down his tree-lined street in late summer, he experienced a strong feeling of coming home and wanted to somehow capture that in a visual way. The end result is a watch displaying a tree and its leaves changing colour with the changing seasons. A completely whimsical complication and one that adds no practical value and yet we love it anyway.
Built on a reliable Swiss made ETA 2892A2 automatic movement, the Tree of Life features an additional module on top with a disc completing one full rotation every 365 days and showing the changing seasons through the changing colours of the leaves. It’s really quite striking visually, especially in conjunction with the MOP dial and provides an instant reminder that time is passing us by and reminding us to not to focus just on what the time is right now. I imagine it will be particularly nice for those cubicle dwellers working long hours who often don’t even notice the seasons changing before their eyes.
The regular retail price will be set at EUR 6,950, which is a lot of money and so I think Kneijnsberg & van Eijk is really going to have to rely on tugging at the heartstrings when it comes to selling this watch. That said, if you really love this model, the company is offering a limited pre-order production of 55 pieces for a heavily discounted price of EUR 2,950, which is arguably a bit more reasonable, especially for an original concept such as this one. In any event, I applaud the creativity and having recently become a father for the first time myself, can certainly appreciate the emotion behind it. More details on the brand’s website here.