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Picture of Wayne C. Anderson
posted
Asking for information about a Gruen Precision 21 Jewel wrist watch? The dial appears to be spotted, and would like to know if it might be cleaned, or must it be replaced? Attached to a Kreisler 14K Top/Stainless Steel bottom band. Belonged to late father-in-law, so it has sentimental value. Thanks for any information.

[This message was edited by Wayne C. Anderson on April 08, 2003 at 13:15.]

Gruen
 
Posts: 886 | Location: Nebraska, in the U.S.A. Heartland | Registered: November 22, 2002
<Doug Sinclair>
posted
Wayne,

There is always a risk when trying to improve a cosmetic feature on watches. I have had success with liquid fork cleaner. Remove the dial, hang it from a thread, dip it into the cleaner for a minute or two, and remove to see if there has been an improvement. If it has had an effect, immediately rinse the dial and blow it dry. Do not wipe! Sometimes the printed chapter ring may come off with loose lacquer. If you have improved it, give it a quick, light shot of clear lacquer to stop it from tarnishing again. There is a risk in this procedure which is one you must accept! You may have to have the dial refinished!

Doug S.
 
Administrative Assistant
Picture of Dr. Debbie Irvine
posted
Hi Wayne,

I especially like Gruen watches, they always considered style in their designs. Their "Curvex" watches are still influential today, some seventy years after their introduction.

Watchmakers have told me the "Gruen 21 Precision" as shown on your dial is the mark of a high quality movement. Of course any 21-jewel wristwatch is a good one. Gruen movements were imported from Switzerland, then cased and timed in Cincinnatti, Ohio.

I don't get into the dial cleaning, Doug is far more brave than I might be! I would anticipate that 80% or more of that grunge can be cleaned away. I can recommend a good watchmaker who is a trusted Chapter 185 Member. Rich Kuhn was trained at the Bulova Watchmaking School and he works at it full time. I've been very surprised at what Rich can do to save a dial and when he's finished with the movements they always run great. I know because I wear the wristwatches in my collection every day and Rich Kuhn does all my service work.

Rich Kuhn, Repair and Restoration
Rich_Kuhn@email.msn.com
Phone: (440) 878-9385 in Strongsville, Ohio

I'm glad you're saving the watches that were handed down in your family and I hope this helps.


Dr. Debbie

Here is a Gruen 21-jewel Precision from my collection that is very similar to your watch...

 
Posts: 4890 | Location: Northern Ohio in the U.S.A. | Registered: December 04, 2002
Picture of Wayne C. Anderson
posted
Debbie,
Thanks very much for the information about Gruen wrist watches, and the great picture of your Gruen. Also thanks for your recommendation of a good watchmaker....will contact Rich when I get ready to have it restored.
My work day wrist watch is an Omega, purchased in the PX at Bremerhaven Germany in 1961 for $50 -not a bad investment because after 42 years its still working, and in use.

Omega Seamaster
 
Posts: 886 | Location: Nebraska, in the U.S.A. Heartland | Registered: November 22, 2002
Administrative Assistant
Picture of Dr. Debbie Irvine
posted
Wayne,

You really have received value from that one! I have a Ball Trainmaster from about that same time with the original tag and it reads $85.00 so I'd say you got a great buy on your Omega.

Did you keep the box and papers?

Dr. Debbie

We have similar tastes in watches, this gold Seamaster is my only Omega and I love it...

 
Posts: 4890 | Location: Northern Ohio in the U.S.A. | Registered: December 04, 2002
Picture of Wayne C. Anderson
posted
Dr Debbie,
What a great looking Omega - the price on my Omega was so low because I was in the U.S. Air Force, and a radio operator, so I needed an accurate watch - but did not keep the box or paperwork. Thanks for all the information.
 
Posts: 886 | Location: Nebraska, in the U.S.A. Heartland | Registered: November 22, 2002
posted
I'm kinda partial to Gruens also. For a good source of information check out this web page:

http://www.pixelp.com/gruen/index.html

According to it, the 21-jewel movements were produced in the USA at Norwood, a surburb of Cincinnati. I have two of them, one in a curved case that could hold a Curvex movmement, I think, but the back indicates that the 21-j caliber goes in this case.
 
Posts: 676 | Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee USA | Registered: December 08, 2002
Administrative Assistant
Picture of Dr. Debbie Irvine
posted
John,

Since I do not consider myself an expert on this or any other watch I can only tell you that I have read many times and in a number of authoritative articles is essentially what I found at the website you suggested in the "1911" area...

The Gruen-designed movements were manufactured in Switzerland. For the rest of their history, Gruen would continue to build movements there, and case and time them in the U.S.A.

This has always been my impression. In fact even the early Columbus Watches from when Gruen still controlled the company were Swiss movements. I'm sure what you are referring to is the following...

1949: The Gruen 21
"marks a man whose time is precious"
 
Using factory space rented from the American Playing Card Company, in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood, Gruen set up a facility to build American-made movements. Special permission had to be obtained from the Swiss government in order to export the necessary machinery. In 1949, the company introduced their first watches made entirely in the U.S., a line of 21-jewel men's models. The movements are marked "Cincinnati" or "US" instead of the usual "Switzerland."

The 21 models use a 21-jewel version of the tonneau-shaped 335 Veri-Thin movement. There is a playful variety of both round and rectangular case styles in the series, in both 14k and gold filled. Since these are the only Gruen watches produced entirely in the U.S., and are not marked "Switzerland" or "Swiss" on the dials, you will sometimes see sellers incorrectly describe them as redials because they don't have any small text at the bottom of the dial. Early models are signed Veri-Thin 21; later models have simply a 21 under the Gruen logo, sometimes enclosed in a gold shield shape.

At the Norwood facility Gruen also built some men's 17-j and women's 17- and 21-jewel movements. However, the bulk of Gruen watches still had imported Swiss movements. It is interesting that Gruen, who had manufactured their movements in Switzerland since about 1900, started U.S. production at a time when most other U.S. watch companies were moving production overseas.

Copyright © 1999-2001 Paul Schliesser    paul@pixelp.com


To sort it out I highlighted two sentences above in bold type for emphasis.

So the truth is John, we are probably both right but neither of us told the whole story correctly. My earlier statement... "Gruen movements were imported from Switzerland, then cased and timed in Cincinnatti, Ohio"... pertained to watches such as I showed above and nearly all others down through the years. In fact that is what it says inside the case-back of the watch I showed earlier. My statement should have started with "Practically all" in order to be entirely accurate.

Your statement regarding production location perhaps should have indicated ..."some of the later"...21-jewel movements were produced in the USA at Norwood, a surburb of Cincinnati, due to the ambiguity of the information in that portion of the article on the web-site you referenced. By the way thanks, that web-site is a great source for Gruen history and information!

Dr. Debbie



Gruen Precision Veri-Thin 21-jewels and SWITZERLAND from my watch shown above...

 
Posts: 4890 | Location: Northern Ohio in the U.S.A. | Registered: December 04, 2002
Picture of Wayne C. Anderson
posted
Dr Debbie,
Thanks for posting the great picture of your Gruen watch - and for all the information.
 
Posts: 886 | Location: Nebraska, in the U.S.A. Heartland | Registered: November 22, 2002
posted
Very interesting indeed. The movements in the two I have are marked "Cincinnati USA" underneath the Gruen name instead of Watch Company, neither shows Switzerland on the balance bridge or the three letter code that looks SX?, the small number near the click is missing, and the serial? number on one is 41420, the other is not numbered. Also, the word "unadjusted" does not appear on either movement.
 
Posts: 676 | Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee USA | Registered: December 08, 2002
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