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Battery-driven Gruen not running

jboger

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A friend would like me to fix her little Gruen that her mother owned. The style of the case dated the watch from the Forties, or so I thought, but I don't think battery driven watches were available then. I could be mistaken.

The battery is readily available for a few dollars. I could certainly buy one of those, insert it, and see if the watch runs or not. Still, there could be other issues. There is something that looks like a solenoid. It's cylindrical and wound with very fine copper wire. Isn't there an easy test with a multimeter? If so, what is it? Do I measure the resistance across the solenoid (if that's what it is). If so, what should I read? If no break in the wire, then the resistance should be zero, yes? Is a good battery needed in order to do this test?

Well, I sincerely hope someone on the Forum knows what I refer to. We tend to work on mechanical watches, not battery-driven ones. Frugal me--it's the Scotsman in me-- would like to check the watch out first before I spend even a few dollars on a new battery.

John
 

Barney Green

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Hi John,

the very first battery driven Gruens appeared in the 60s, called the Gruen Electric. But they would not have that solenoid type motor (correctly should be called Lavet-type stepper motor), but would look like this one or similar:

1634414276689.png

What you are describing is an anlog Quartz movement, the first one or at least one of the first Gruen used looked like this (aorund 1980):

1634414480211.png

Mid 80s onwards ladies analog Quartz movements are looking more or less like this example and this is what I believe you have there:

1634414801444.png

These movements will cost you probably 10 bucks so there is not any sense in repairing them. Of cause you can measure the resistance of the coil,, most are in the 1.5 to 2 kOhm range. But it is not very likely that it is broken. But beware, the IC used in such a movement is made in a low voltage process, regular multimeters are often using measuring voltages of 9V and may destroy the IC. You need to be sure that the measuring voltage of your multimeter is 1.5V or less.
Either the battery is empty (they last probably two years) or the movement needs a cleaning and oiling. Often the oil gets sticky nowadays in these old Quartz movements. I'd rather try to change the battery or in case it won't run with the new one, you try to get a replacement movement. You would need the battery for the new movement anyway, so the Scotsmen in you would not spend any extra money in the end.

If you would post pictures of watch and movement it would be easier to ID both.

Barney
 
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jboger

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Barney:

Things are making sense now. Yes, I have the analog quartz movement. I will order the battery and post some pictures tomorrow. Thanks for all you wrote. Very informative.

John
 

jboger

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I'm on eBay and see the Rayovac 379 battery. There are many available, mostly from Lithuania, Germany, and the UK. I don't see how the battery can cost ~$2.50 and be shipped free from Europe. Makes me apprehensive.
 

Barney Green

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In reality those batteries are produced at cost of a few cents. They will fit in a regular envelope and the weight will be less then 20 grams. This makes it cheapest shipment...
I usually buy ten-packs for about $1.50.
 

jboger

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Barney: Sorry. I find I forgot to post a picture. I will tie a string around my finger so I do it tomorrow morning.--John
 
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jboger

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Barney As soon as i read your post I got off my tookus and took pictures. Here they are. If you would like more, let me know.

IMG_2106.jpg IMG_2105.jpg
 

Chris Radek

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I think someone replaced the original movement, which would have been mechanical, with that. Usually this hack work involves irreversible destruction like chopping off the dial feet and attaching the dial with sticky tape or a similar product. Often the original hands are discarded too because they don't fit. Then later, a battery got left in it after it was dead, which is very common and easy to do, and that leakage ruined the movement (and maybe didn't do the dial any good).

If someone sent this to me to repair, I'd find a simlar watch on ebay with its original movement, and take its movement, dial, and hands and place them in this original case with the original bracelet, after servicing the movement.
 
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jboger

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Chris:

Yes, as I noted in the original post, I thought it dated from the Forties because of the case. Well, I do not intend to do anymore than see if a new battery works. If it does, good; if not, so be it. I ordered the battery from Lithuania. It may take as long as a month to arrive.
 

Barney Green

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Hi John,

I am in line with Chris, this is an older watch from about the 40s where someone replaced the original mechanical movement with a Quartz one about 50 years later...
Unfortunately the picture is too blurry to read the numbers in the case bottom. There you would in most Gruen watches find the original caliber number and the so called style number which with Gruen allows you to order the correct crystal for replacement.
But if I see this correctly this watch does not have the caliber / style pair stamped in and this has only been the case with solid gold watches. My assumption is, that the case back is stamped 14k at the outside for the gold purity. If this is correct then the original caliber would have been a caliber 280 and the watch would be the "Mercedes" model which had been introduced in 1940.

1635020900404.png

Like Chris mentioned the battery contact looks quite oxydized from an old leaked battery so you will have to clean it before replacing the battery.

This watch would well deserve being restored with an original movement!

Barney
 

jboger

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The color has returned to my finger.

Barney, you are right. The case's outside back is stamped 14K along with something that looks like a trademark involving a capital letter K (casemaker?).

The inside is marked: "Cased and Timed in the USA by Gruen Watch Co". Below that we again have the purity mark: "14 K Gold", the casemaker's mark (?), and a serial number: 109822. There may be some repair dates scratched in but not sure.

The dial is signed Gruen Veri Thin. That seems to be an appellation that Gruen liked as I have seen pocket watches with the same designation. Is the Caliber 280 available?

John
 

jboger

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I found the Caliber 280 for sale on eBay. It has a six-digit serial number. Did Gruen sell watches with matching case and movement serial numbers? If so, then a knowledgeable person would know that this movement was not original to my friend's case were I to install it. I'm checking with my friend to know what she would like me to do.
 

Barney Green

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Hi John,

again Chris is correct, movement and case serials did never match with Gruen.They always had individual serials (if any, later movements and even later cases did not have serial numbers at all).

The caliber 280 serials are in the 5 to 6 digit range from 1936 to 1938, later movements starting 1939 in the format 1-xxxxx, before simply xxxxxx without the "-".
It may be that "Mercedes" has already been introduced in 1939 from the serial number of your case. I own a Gruen watch which is close to your serial, serial number 103258 and this one was dated 1939, but I tend to believe that yours is from 1940. Serial number of the 280 should have been at 1-2xxxx at that time, but this would not at all be important to me.

The case maker logo should be the stylized K&O for "Katz and Ogush". Mr. Katz became the president of the Gruen Watch Co in 1935 and his company was integrated into Gruen providing most of the ladies solid gold watches at that time.

The Veri-Thin movements were first introduced in pocket watches (about 1910) and at the end of the 30s also for wrist watches, aloowing sneak looking flat watches. Together with 270/271/540 and 541 the 280 were of Gruen's first generation VeriThin ladies wrist watch movements introduced in 1936 and almost exclusively used in solid gold models.

Barney
 
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jboger

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Chris, Barney: you are both gentlemen and scholars. I have passed this information along to the owner and have cited this Forum as my source.
 

Barney Green

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John,

I have now proof that the Mercedes has been available in 1939 already, it was introduced September 1939 and available until summer 1942.

But still most likely it was sold in 1940, probably as graduation gift in May /June time frame.

Barney
 

jboger

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Folks:

The battery arrived from Lithuania. As you may recall, the watch had been sitting somewhere for years with the old battery still in it. When i removed this battery I noted green oxidation around the terminal. I removed some of the gunk in order to make a good contact with the new battery. I put everything back together and--no go. I think this little movement is kaput.

Can I buy my friend a replacement movement that will fit this Gruen case? I broached the topic of restoring the watch to its original configuration with a mechanical movement, but she is not interested in that. But I would like to help her. If someone could point me to the right movement--preferably a Gruen--that would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

John
 

Barney Green

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Almost every 5 1/2 x 6 3/4 ligne movement will fit.
Examples are Miyota 5Y20, 5Y26, 5Y30 or 5Y36, Eta 281.001, 801.104, 901.001, 901.005, 976.005, 980.008,980.153
oir 980.163, just to name a few.
Careful, just in case you ould like to reuse the old hands, they differ in hand size (and heigth).

Just check the usual sources with "quartz movement 5 1/2 x 6 3/4" as key.
 
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jboger

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Thanks! I'll check into it. And present my friend with options. Everyone has been a big help.

John
 

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