I guess you are all familiar with Michiel Holthinrichs, the Dutch watchmaker who makes 3D-printed watches; if not, have a read here or watch our video interview here. In today’s Collector’s Series, we’re talking with a Dutch collector, who wants to remain anonymous, and who owns a unique Holthinrichs Ornament 1. Not just a unique Ornament 1, but the world’s first 3D-printed watch in platinum! We visited the collector in question, photographed his unique platinum Ornament 1 and asked him why he bought exactly this watch?
Fun story: when I ordered my Ornament 1, I actually wanted to order the very first platinum Ornament 1, however, someone beat me to it… and that’s today’s collector. An additional coincidence is that this collector was a colleague of mine, from before I ran MONOCHROME full-time, and I had no idea that we shared the same passion for watches. So this instalment of the Collector’s Series was an incredible one, both on a personal level as well as the watch in question. So let’s get started and find out why today’s collector ordered a unique platinum Ornament 1 from Michiel Holthinrichs.
Frank Geelen – Why did you buy a Holthinrichs watch?
The first time that I met Michiel Holthinrichs was in May 2017, in Utrecht, at an exhibition of Dutch watchmakers. The first thing I noticed was his enthusiasm and his drive about his product, the Ornament 1. I was taken by it. He had much knowledge about watch designs in general and he told me more specifically why he designed the case of the Ornament 1. He blew me away with his enthusiasm. His product, the Ornament 1, is very innovative, a 3-D model, a beautiful design. I’ve always loved watches and I’ve seen a lot of them, but this watch had an abnormal design that I’d never seen before.
Now I know that one would recognize the style of the watch as a Holthinrichs that you’ve never seen before. It didn’t take long before I decided to buy myself a steel version of the watch, the only metal he could deliver at that time. Because it’s a bespoke watch I was asked about how I would like the finish of the 3D case and the finish of the watch. I was used to buying a watch as it was, not having so many variables to choose from.
I think that my motivation to buy a Holthinrichs watch was that it was a beautiful watch; he was a starter in the watchmaking industry and I liked his ideas in total. And at the time I thought the watch was good value for money. So in general, it was about buying myself a beautiful and unique watch. In those days he didn’t have an atelier. He still worked from his student apartment and he invited me to go over there to collect the watch. Last but not least, he went to the bakery and bought us a nice cake for coffee to celebrate the birth of a new watch. It’s not only his enthusiasm but also his empathy with the buyer that gave me the feeling that it was okay buying a nice and unique watch from his hands.
So you bought a steel Ornament 1, and now we’re looking at the first and only platinum version. How come?
During a lunch, together with his girlfriend, the question was, why only a steel watch when there are other metals that probably could also be used in the printing process? For instance, gold, and what would be a reasonable price? As an artist, he never thought about the time he spends on a watch, let alone a fair price. In my opinion, and thinking about the development, the production costs and time spent finishing the 3D case and preparing the watch, his watches are worth every cent!
I told him I would prefer a white gold version if the price was right. I chose white gold, because it was less noticeable and I could wear it in my free time, so not only when dressed in a suit. A few days later Michiel called telling me that it was even possible to print the watch in platinum. Wow, was my first answer, but thinking about the costs, I was holding a bit back. And yes, the costs are a bit higher but low to what you get for such a beautiful watch, one of a kind.
It would be the first 3D-printed watch in platinum ever made. I thought it would be worthwhile spending my money on a special watch that had never been seen. It was a discovery together with Michiel and I can tell you I was glad to have to don it. It took almost a year before the watch was finished. I visited him several times talking about the finish and also seeing the watch in every state of finish. Loved that process, especially seeing its birth and every stage of finishing on the watch. It was a special moment when I could take it with me. Costly? Yes, but as I mentioned, it’s worth every cent!
What is it in Michiel Holthinrichs, the watchmaker and namesake, that you admire so much?
I admire his enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity. The man brims with ideas and his brain and fingers will make things come through. Talking to him about his ideas is a never-ending story, so many ideas for improving the process of watchmaking and of designing new ones. His problem is that he is more of an artist than a businessman. I always remind him that he also has to make money for living. His watches must become more expensive, to cover all the time invested and effort spend.
Any tips for people who are new to the Holthinrichs watches and who are interested?
Give Michiel a call or send him an email with questions or how you would like your bespoke watch. It’s a luxury you have never experienced. Michiel will help you because his philosophy is that a customer must be happy with the watch. He wants a relationship with his clients and the trust of his buyers. He will help you make the right decision.
You’re quite a collector, so I guess you’re always on the look-out for a next timepiece. What’s next on your wish list?
I’m glad to own several watches, but the watch that I have on my bucket list is a tourbillon, even knowing that is out of my league. I can only dream about it knowing that it will be too expensive for me. But you never know. I never thought of having a bespoke platinum watch from a great Dutch designer…
More details about the brand and its collections here, at holthinrichswatches.com.