Born in Constantine, (Algeria), of Italian origin and French nationality, Alexandre Grassy arrives in Spain in in the early nineteen twenties. He was on his way to America and was only going to stop over in this country, but a Portuguese jeweller whom he struck up a friendship with during the journey made him see that his America was here, a country with great future and opportunities. Alexandre came from a family of Milanese goldsmiths. His elder brother, Charles -who migrated to Brazil and managed a precious stone business-, taught him a great part of this activity. Alexandre who was an entrepreneur and great trader, was able to use and develop this knowledge later, when he established in Madrid. In fact it was Charles who designed the seahorses facing each other which continue being Grassy’s emblem.
His first jewelry was a store-workshop, on Infantas street, specializing in clocks and watches, which Alexandre Grassy was especially fond of since the mechanisms and the accuracy of the manual machineries fascinated him. His first business was such a success, that only a few years later, in 1923, he opened a second shop in the commercial area of San Luis -in Gran Via 29-, under the name of Unión Relojera Suiza. By then Grassy already had “branch offices” in Biarritz and in Paris.
The shop in Madrid, where more than fifty watchmakers worked, was large and occupied two floors. Mr. Grassy’s goal was to work exclusively with the brands that he sold. Thereby introducing names such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-Lecoultre and Audemars Piguet in Spain. Its serious and honourable reputation grew parallel to the business, and led to the opening, in 1953, of a second store in Gran Via number 1 where it still is to this day.
This shop which coexisted for many years with the one in number 29 on the same street is located on the elegant part of the Gran Via- the most important stretch of Jewelry stores in Madrid-In this jeweller’s Alexandre Grassy intended to take care of his more refined customers. This new jeweler’s is located in one of the cities most emblematic buildings built in 1916 by the Spanish architect Eladio Laredo Carranza. The shop, with the first automatic doors in the capital, houses the Clock Museum, mecca of watchmaker lovers.
In 1959, Alexandre´s son-in-law, Jirka Reznak, who was then only twenty-five years old, joined Grassy and took over the business. Jirka who knew nothing about the trade, followed his father-in-laws instructions. Alexander maintained that nobody teaches one this profession and that one has to “steal” it, that is, learning little by little, by watching, investigating, experimenting… With him, Grassy begins a new stage of development and economic expansion. New markets open up with the exclusive representation of Piaget and Baume & Mercier brands in 1960 and 1964, respectively and with the distribution of the Rolex brand in 1967. They begin collaborating with artists, highlighting the emblematic Salvador Dalí´s jewellery exhibition in 1982.
At the same time this boosts an initiative of Alexander´s to deal with antiques and art. Furthermore, some important clocks are made for the town, such as the first “talking clock”, that told the time over the telephone; the floral clock which was placed in the Retiro park or the great clock on the Telefónica building.
Although Grassy had always manufactured its own jewellery, with Jirka Reznak in charge this aspect was boosted and it starts producing a new line of jewellery defined by the use of cut gemstones, such as jades, corals, lapis-lazuli, turquoises or malachites – which came from small family workshops in the Black Forest (Germany) – mixed with gold, pearls and diamonds. A rare, unexpected and surprising combination, which provided the distinguishing mark of the Grassy jewels during this period, together with the “Rocailles ”, one of the firms’ emblematic collections, still edited nowadays.
In the eighties, Yann Reznak, Alexandre’s grandson, a member of the families third generation entered the company. Yann, follows his grandfather’s footsteps in his personal passion for clocks and watches, their mechanical complications and the technical displays. Yann has known how to transmit this watchmaker’s passion to the firm and has succeeded in placing Grassy, as the mecca par excellence for fine watch lovers in Spain. In 1989 Yann prompted the opening of a new Grassy jewellery shop in José Ortega y Gasset street, in the Salamanca neighborhood. Thanks to Yann, Grassy has become a trendsetter with makes as well known as Bréguet, Bell & Ross, Enigma, Bédat or Chronoswiss, among others, developing a distribution network for the whole of Spain.
In 2005, Yann’s sister Patricia, joined the firm. Patricia an architect by trade, has drawn Grassy closer to contemporary jewelry design and the art world. Besides designing jewellery and being the artistic director of the jewellery collections and the one of a kind pieces, Patricia has promoted special projects like Florescence, with the designer Carmen Mazarrasa, consisting in a collection of 12 necklaces produced with remains of gemstones found in Grassy’s archives. Likewise, Patricia has boosted collections of unique jewels with artists as important as British sculptor Anthony Caro or Spanish artist Blanca Muñoz. With Carmen Mazarrasa Patricia also developed an affordable line aimed at young clients called Las Joyitas de Grassy. Under Patricia’s artistic direction a wide ranging collaboration with the art world has been promoted through interventions with plastic artists such as Eugenio Ampudia, María Gimeno, Rocío Rein, Gloria Oyarzabal, Narelle Jubelin, Sandra Rein and Nuria Mora.