BOOKREVIEW: Barnett - The Gruen Watch Repairers Reference

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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Life Member
NAWCC Fellow
Sep 23, 2001
A Compilation of Most Useful Gruen Watch Repair Documents in Facsimile

A Bookreview

The Gruen Watch Repairers Reference, Compiled by Mike Barnett. Published 2011 by Second Hand Press {No Location]; ISBN 978-0-578-08605-7; paperback, 503 pages, 28 cm high x 22 cm wide. Available for US$ 24.99 plus postage and handling from, , or from the website as well as . NAWCC members may borrow the book from the National Watch and Clock Library.

As both collectors and watch repair professionals well know, getting access to the ‘hard facts’ concerning long the movements of long defunct watch brands is getting harder and harder, Many brands (if they still exist today) don’t publish technical manuals and parts catalogs anymore. And the old original documents never meant to be for long term, archival use, are literally disintegrating after decades of hard use.

But regarding the US based (but Swiss made) brand of Gruen Watches (active from their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1897 to 1977) there has been some movement in the other direction. Thanks to an initiative of Mike Barnett, and the online community of Gruen enthusiasts (see ) several long hard to find historic reference documents have been combined into a readily available reference source, the book here under review.

The book starts with a 26 page compilation of key data and facts by the author. The core of this section is a compact seven page movement interchangeability table (which is sorted numerically by Gruen caliber number), incorporating data on production dates, movement dimensions, and hand dimensions. Various lists and tables on mainsprings, crows, hand and interchangeable complete balances take up the next 19 pages. Most of the data comes from original Gruen publications, some from third parties, such as the watch part wholesaler Swartchild.

The bulk of the book (pages 27 to 771) is made up of facsimile reproductions of seven different Gruen spare parts catalogues (plus three supplements) dating from 1921, 1926, 1939, 1945, 1948 and 1953. Not being a Gruen expert myself I do not know how representative that list is of all parts catalogues ever produced by Gruen, but given that at the time of Gruen calibers had a much longer lifetime than is true today, I would assume that there are few -if any - calibers that are not covered in the lineup.

The short final section of the book (pages 472 to 503) reproduces three additional, undated documents relating to Gruen parts: a- A seven page illustrated caliber identification chart of Gruen watches from an Swartchild catalog, b- A ‘Gruen Crystal Chart”, 24 pages, published by Gruen itself, and c- The Gruen page from a C-S Flexo watch crystal catalog, relating Gruen case numbers to C-S Crystal stock numbers.

Admittedly the book under review is not a glamorous or beautiful publication, but what it lacks in sexiness it more than makes up in usefulness to the practicing watch repairer. The author deserves the gratitude of the classic watch community for producing and marketing this kind of publication. We need to remember that collecting classic watches would eventually grind to a halt if people like the author/publisher of this book would not spend countless hours producing these kinds of ‘boring’ reference books.

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, (Sussex NJ) Sept. 26, 2011
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Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Member
Sep 4, 2000
Pooler, GA USA
Does the The Gruen Watch Repairers Reference include any data on the German or Swiss made Gruen pocket watches or is it limited to wrist watch calibres?


Registered User
Nov 26, 2008
Near Chapel Hill NC
Does the The Gruen Watch Repairers Reference include any data on the German or Swiss made Gruen pocket watches or is it limited to wrist watch calibres?

Excellent question. I should have provided more information in my Introduction or to Fortunat prior to the review to make sure the contents are completely clear. Unlike my Identification Guide, I have done zero filtering of the content that went into the book. ALL known models of Gruen are represented, both pocket and wristwatch.

The book has all of the Gruen published material catalogs from 1921 to the 1970's. There are a total of 9 books Gruen made, that I am aware of, all of which are in the book in their entirety.

Some examples of 17 ligne calibers that may help you from the 1921 catalog include VERITHIN, ULTRATHIN, ULTRA ULTRATHIN, Dietrich Gruen, 650, 740, 850. If you want to throw an example movement at me to check I will.

I would like to request from readers that if any Gruen material publications surface that are not in the book, by all means contact me right away as I am highly interested in seeing them and including them in the future revisions.
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