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Gruen Watch Mfg. Co.

D. Gruen & Son started in Columbus, OH in 1894, importing movements from Germany, and later, Switzerland. The company went under a succession of names, one of which was the Gruen Watch Mfg. Co.. As a top tier supplier, Gruen produced a line of fine watches, continuing in its original form into the post-WWII era, until 1958.

Gruen: A Thumbnail Description

Dietrich Gruen learned the watch trade as a partner in Gruen & Savage, which grew into the Columbus Watch Co. Gruen served as president of that company until 1894. At that time he formed D. Gruen & Son, in Columbus, OH, the same city in which the Columbus Watch Co. was located. The first watches were (standard American) 18-size movements, built by Assmann in Germany. 16-size movements followed shortly. By 1904, production was moved to Madretsch, Switzerland. The company went through several name changes (for a list, refer to Paul Schliessser's website, noted in the references below). For convenience, it will be referred to here as just Gruen.

In the summer of 1898, Gruen relocated to Cincinnati, OH, occupying offices in the Lion building, which was housed the Queen City Watch Case Mfg Co. Gruen became selling agents for that company, which by 1902 became the Gruen-National Watch Case Co. In 1917, Gruen moved to the countryside near Cincinnati, renaming the location "Time Hill."

Gruen Watches For Railroad Service


Some Guren grades were accepted for railroad time service, such as the Swiss-Gruen grades 52 and 56. Although Gruen Actively Pursued Having Watches Accepted, the company didn’t seem to promote these watches in the railroad market.

The following is quoted from The Jewelers’ Circular - Weekly and Horological Review, February 28, 1900, pp. 33-4 (Note - The D., L. & W. is the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western):


Letters To The Editor
WATCHES OF D., L. & W. RAILROAD EMPLOYES
Cincinnati, O. Feb. 12
Editor The Jewelers’ Circular - Weekly:
In your Consolidation number, page 48, you mention the D., L. & W. inspection rules. We wish to kindly inform you there is a very grave error in where you state “or any standard Swiss movement of 22 jewels or more will be acceptable to the company.” You no doubt have been misinformed, and I herewith give you the exact words of letter written in answer to an inquiry by us of J. W. Forsinger, the chief inspector. Would like very much to have you state the matter correctly in your next issue in justice to the various Swiss watch interests and also set the matter before the public correctly, for we have had quite a few inquiries from dealers in view of it. With greetings we remain yours truly,
D. Gruen & Sons.

Mr. Forsinger’s letter enclosed is reprinted below:

Chicago, Ill, Feb. 7, 1900

Messrs. D. Gruen & Sons, Cincinnati, O.:
Dear Sirs:-I am unable to fathom where you saw that only 22 jewels Swiss watches would pass. Our book of instructions mentions that the highest grades of Swiss will pass on any road and it is understood that all Swiss movements of the higher qualities will pass. Both your grades which I have in stock will pass on any road that I have, provided no dealer’s name is specially engraved on it. I have no copy of the rules you mention at present, but will gladly furnish any further information you may desire.
Yours truly,
(Signed): J.W. Forsinger


Its believed that Gruen was importing watches from Assmann of Dresden until 1904 when they switched over to Swiss watches. Either everybody just lumped Dresden production in with the Swiss, or Gruen had started moving production to Switzerland earlier than previously thought - and the watches Forsinger referred to may have been the Swiss-Gruen grades Nos. 52 and 56.

References

Online

Paul Schliessser has an excellent website that provides a history of Dietrich Gruen and the Gruen Watch Co., entitled Gruen: The Art and Mystery of Watchmaking 1874 – 1958.

The Priceless Possession of a Few, 1924 Gruen Fiftieth Anniversary Watch booklet.

Cary Hurt has posted a 1929 catalog description of Gruen's "Watch Adjustments to Position and Temperature."

1926 Gruen Material Catalog

1929 Gruen Catalog

Art Bissell has posted a July, 2011 NAWCC Message Board Thread on 17 ligne Verithin models.

GruenWristwatches Gruen only site with large reference section, articles, history, galleries


NAWCC Lending Library Material
Books and back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library, using the Lending Library Form.


Books

Gruen Watches A Special Collection, Robert Dietrich Gruen, AWI Elm Charitable Trust, American Watchmakers Institute, Cininnati, OH

Priceless Possession of a Few, The, Supplement (#10) to the Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Eugene Fuller, NAWCC, Columbia, PA, 1974, available online to NAWCC members who are logged in.

The Gruen Watch Catalog, Mike Barnett, 2015, Description and Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The 1929, 1930 Gruen Watch Makers Guild Book with 1931 Supplement - Mike Barnett, 2014, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The 1927 Gruen Stock Record Book - Mike Barnett, 2015, Description and Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The Gruen Watch Model Identification Guide - Volume 1
, Mike Barnett, 2010, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The Gruen Watch Model Identification Guide - Volume 2, Mike Barnett, 2013, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The Gruen Watch Model Identification Guide - Hardcover Collectors Edition Volumes 1 and 2, Mike Barnett, 2014, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

Gruen The 1930s – A Decade of Watches from the Daily News - Mike Barnett, 2013, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

Gruen The 1940s – A Decade of Watches from the Daily News - Mike Barnett, 2013, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

Gruen The 1950s – A Decade of Watches from the Daily News - Mike Barnett, 2013, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The Gruen Watch Repairer's Reference (soft cover) - Mike Barnett, 2011, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

The Gruen Watch Repairer's Reference (hard cover) - Mike Barnett, 2011, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

A Course in Wristwatch Repair - The Gruen Horological Text and Technical Bulletins - Mike Barnett, 2009, Available in the GruenWristwatches bookstore

A Course in Wristwatch Repair - The Gruen Horological Text and Technical Bulletins eBook - Mike Barnett, 2009, Available on Google Play Books

448 Gruen Material Catalog - Mike Barnett, 2011, Available on Lulu

453 Gruen Material Catalog - Mike Barnett, 2011, Available on Lulu

1953 453 Material Catalog, Gruen Watch Company, Electronic eBook - Mike Barnett, available to download for free

The Gruen Watch Makers Guild Book, Electronic eBook - Mike Barnett, 2014, (out of print)

* Note that the majority of the above books by Mike Barnett are available to NAWCC members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library, using the Lending Library Form.



Articles
Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in:

" How about a Date? Breakthrough Research Smooths Rough Road for Gruen Wristwatch Collectors" Mike Barnett & Barry Cooper, NAWCC Bulletin No. 402, March/April, 2013, pp 123-
127. (Note this article is publically assessable, not just NAWCC members)

"A Few Unusual Gruen Watches," Robert Dietrich Gruen, NAWCC Bulletin No. 256, October, 1988, pp. 371-377.

"A Gruen Verithin Gallery," Art Bissell, Watch & Clock Bulletin No. 393, August, 2011, pp. 408-413.

"The Gruen Verithin Pocket Watch," Jack R. Goldberg, NAWCC Bulletin No. 300, February, 1996, pp. 24-30.





Gruen Ads

YearMonthSubject
1911Gruen Verithin
1915SeptemberThe Box As A Watch Stand
1915OctoberAdjusted and Precision Models
1915NovemberGreen Gold Cases
1915DecemberChristmas Gift
1922AprilOctagon Model No. C41
1922JuneWW Nos. M61 & M62
1922July - DecemberLouis XIV No. O-121 & Cartouche WW No. O-122
1922July - DecemberWW Nos. O-111 & O-112
1922NovemberUltrathin Pentagon A111 & Cartouche WW No. A112
1922DecemberOctagon Model No. A121
1936December14 Wristwatches & 2 Pocket Watches w/ Brief Descriptions - Color (Posted by Thojil 21-Jun-11)

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Current Discussion: Main discussion

  1. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Aug 26, 2000
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    Moving material to the NAWCC Message Board
     
  2. I would like to make updates to this GRuen page. Attempted to contact Kent, but private messages didn't go through.

    One question I have is on the "References" section. On one hand, it looks like a list of source materials used in the Wiki page/article, on the other hand it appears to have a little more than just the stuff used as source material.

    The question I have is, would it be OK to consider this "References" section as a place to put "Reference Information"? In other words, places to go, things to read, resources that are reference material for people wishing to learn more. In the past 6 or 7 years alone, sites have sprung up that are dedicated to Gruen, articles published (one this month, Nov 2015, in the Bulletin), and books published (one this month also). Gruen is starting to beginning to get some traction in the collecting community as more information, reference material, and a places for Gruen fans to congregate.

    I think this page could be considerably expanded and would be happy to do some of that work, but want to get permission from Kent in case he needs to approve the changes or make them himself.
     
  3. Hmmmm.... I see this comment above
    Moving material to the NAWCC Message Board


    And wonder if there is a different location I should be working... but I also see that the address of this page begins with mb.nawcc.org so perhaps that move has taken place and this is all that it meant.

    Regardless, I'm going to continue to add the resources that I have found, written, or posted.

    I saw that the page was referenced in a post on the board only yesterday by one of the Moderators, Jim Haney, so I am assuming this is a live, and actively used page.
     
  4. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    18,085
    1,193
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    Mike:

    I only just now saw your posts, I'm sorry that it took so long. Normally, you can email to me by clicking on my name at the top of any of my posts and, when my profile opens, choosing "@ Send email", just below my picture. The NAWCC will route your email to me.

    This article badly needs to expanded and I'm glad that you're stepping up to do so. I don't need to approve any changes; either to this article, or any others. You just have to be an NAWCC member to do so (if you're not a member - contact me and we can discuss how I might help). If you do choose to make an addition or change, I hope that you will either back up any assertions with sources, or clearly note that they are opinions. Also, please be sure to briefly note the changes in the "Reason for Editing:" field at the bottom of the edit screen.

    As far as the "References" section goes, I've always used this as a place to link to additional items/pictures/locations/etc. for additional information on the subject of the Encyclopedia articles. There's no reason you can't add to it.

    I'll try to contact you and let you know that I've responded to your posts.

    Best regards,
     
  5. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    18,085
    1,193
    113
    I for got to mention that posts that state "Moving material refer to an old situation.

    Originally, the NAWCC Message Board did not host images and it was recommended to put them up on such sites as flickr and other free image hosting sites. As time went on, it was decided to host images on the NAWCC Message Board and, due to broken links from images hosted elsewhere being dropped (these sites had a limit and when exceeded, older images were dropped) or discontinued, the recommendation was to post the images on the Message Board.

    Little by little, I went through the process of going through the encyclopedia articles and posting (on the Message Board) any images that I had originally posted elsewhere. Since some text is required to post, I noted that the images were being 'moved' (from the unstated 'elsewhere').