Gruen 420SS T.D. Corp Case.

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by EdSagen, Jan 28, 2020.

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  1. EdSagen

    EdSagen Registered User

    Jan 27, 2020
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    Tyler, Texas
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    I found this at an auction house and won it when the Omega no-name went quickly over of my estimated value. (what I figured I could get away with paying for another watch without my wife finding out)
    I really liked the face of it and the engraving on the back "Cased and timed by Precision Watchmakers" seemed to indicate to me that this one was cased in the Biel/Bienne factory rather than being shipped to the US and cased in the Time Hill factory. But this was only a guess.

    After winning it, I was able to open the case and found the T.D. Corp logo on the inside but also happily also found the 420ss movement.

    What I'd like to learn, and the interweb hasn't been much help yet, is did TD Corp sell their cases to Gruen directly, or were they just selling them to jewelers?

    Was this watch originally assembled into a TD Corp case (unlikely I think) or did someone just find a 420ss movement and put it into a pretty nice looking TD corp case?

    The case is scratched pretty significantly and so is the band, but I put it on black leather band and wear it and it's scars proudly for now.

    I'll ask my ultimate questions of how I did on value when I am allowed to post on that board, but for now, I'm really interested in the relationship between Gruen (US and Swiss factories) and T.K. Corp.. I do know about the court cases.
    Pictures of the watch: Imgur: The magic of the Internet
     
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  2. Barney Green

    Barney Green Registered User

    Jan 19, 2017
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    Hi Ed,

    in my eyes most likely a Frankenwatch with movement and case not having been originally paired. Could you please show the engraving on the back which I have never seen before? Cased and timed by Precision Watchmakers?
    How did you menage to see the full movement serial number, usually the second wheel covers the first part of the serial at the 420SS movements I have seen so far.
    T.K. Corp seems to have supplied cases to Gruen not before 1959 so this would be a big surprise if all belongs together.

    Barney
     
  3. EdSagen

    EdSagen Registered User

    Jan 27, 2020
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    From the picture of the movement, it might not be clear, however, by tilting the movement to the right, you can see the first character, "1" and a ^ from the second character. Knowing the second character will be an A, B, or C, I determined the second character to be an A. I can read the last four digits as 5305 so that gives me either 1A05305 or 1A15305, so either way the prefix of 1A dates the movement to 1945, however since there seems to be a lack of confidence around the actual dating of the movements, I figure calling it out as 1944 - 1945 may be more appropriate than trying to assign a specific year.

    I got the data from GruenWristwatches.com which I believe is Mike Barnett's website. He credits several others who helped him with the Gruen dating project:
    "Decoding Gruen case and movement serial numbers has been a multi-year, team effort. I want to thank Barry "Bazzab" Cooper, Bernd "Barney" Riemann, and Cathy Orbista for their significant contributions to the project."
    Web page Serial Numbers Scroll down 1/2 way through page to Movement serial numbers for the table I used.
    I thought I had a picture of the other side of the back cover on IGMUR, but i was incorrect. I will fix that this evening when I get home so you can see it. That was the only think that kept me from believing I'd paid too much for a Franken -Watch. Cased and Timed by Precision Watch Makers on one side and T.K.corp on the other side of the back cover.
    I am very interested in T.K. Corp, just as part of the history of the watch, but other than the lawsuit around bezel material and waterprotected cases, I cannot find much information about them and thier relationship with Gruen. I'd appreciate any info, resources you can point me to.
    Thank you so much for responding. Even if I learn that I overpaid for something I thought was a Unique, rather than home made, it is all part of getting educated. And I'd rather get my "education" on a Gruen than a Rolex!

    Ed



    Read more: Serial Numbers
     
  4. Barney Green

    Barney Green Registered User

    Jan 19, 2017
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    Hi Ed,

    yes, a 1A0xxxx or 1A1xxxx movement serial would point towards 1944/45, this is absolutely correct. Really being keen on seeing the back, this is one I have not seen yet.
    It is not 100% certain that the case dates later, it is just very, very likely.
    It is not even said that T.K.Co which is Theodore Kagen Corp. ever supplied to Gruen officially. It is said that they sold case and dial kits around 1960 for recasing older movements ("jobber cases"). It is possible and likely that the few TKCo cases which I have seen so far are after market watch cases.
    In this case I would tend to not see the watch as a Frakenwatch. If the recase happened around 1960, I would rather see the watch as an example of these jobber cases which in the 50s / early 60s were widely spread, replacing demolished or outdated original cases.

    Bernd "Barney" Riemann
     
  5. JTD

    JTD Registered User

    Sep 27, 2005
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    The title of the thread and several references in post #1 show TD Corp when it should be TK Corp.

    To avoid causing confusion to later researchers, perhaps a moderator could correct these typing errors.

    JTD
     
  6. Barney Green

    Barney Green Registered User

    Jan 19, 2017
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    Having had a deeper look into T.K.Co. the plot thickens. I have not been aware of the court cases yet and to be honest I now do not believe any more that there has ever been an official relationship between Gruen and Mr. Kagen.The T.K. Co seems to have had a record of purely selling cheap copies and recased old movements on its own through various outlets in New York. Here two interesting articles, first from November 1957 newspaper, second from the federal register in January 1960 descibing the practices of the T.K.Co:.

    The_Brattleboro_Reformer_Fri__Nov_22__1957_.jpg

    Kagen.JPG
     
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  7. EdSagen

    EdSagen Registered User

    Jan 27, 2020
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    Thanks for the articles, I only had the court cases and decisions. So TK was a bad dude! The "cased by precision watch makers" is not a reference to the Precision line, that was just wishful thinking on my part. The case back, Photo attached, is pure T.K. B.S.. I cannot find anything on the Certified numbers, and from the court case we know the Water protection and base material is suspect. You would have a hard time convincing me that the case has enough Iron in it to claim any magnetic protection. I'm pretty sure Gruen was a long way away from a non-ferrous balance spring. What an interesting story behind the watch though. That is what I am beginning to love about this new hobby, there is never a lack of riddles to solve, or friends to help solve them, and when your done, you have a new shinny little piece of history on your wrist. Thank you again for your input. IMG_0049.JPG
     
  8. Barney Green

    Barney Green Registered User

    Jan 19, 2017
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    Diesel gate HQ
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    Yes, these riddles and stories are exactly why I got hooked by the Gruens. Due to the lost history almost every single watch tells a new story or is a new part in the huge puzzle and I can't stop investigating. I never thought about T.K.Co because I only one watch in a T.K.Co. case and I thought it were a to me unknown French case maker. Your hint about the law suits made me looking deeper into that company and another interesting story came to light. I have now seen some photos with NOS blisters of TK Co cases for Bulova and Gruen movements and I read that Hamilton dials were available as well. Most often they seem to have had the word "Rebuild" on the dial.

    Thanks for asking, again I learned something new.

    Barney
     

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