The History of Gruen Watches, Continued (Part 2)

June 29th, 2011

Alright, so let’s pick up where we left off last time with the article about the history of Gruen Watches. Overall, the majority of Gruen watches are comprised of Gruen-made Swiss movement component pieces and were put together and had their fine tuning adjustments done in America, in U.S.-produced watch casings. Gruen’s signature and most notable feature of it’s Precision-grade movements is that they have a bare minimum of 17 jewels in them. Gruen time pieces that don’t bear the ‘Precision’ label on them are generally 15 jewel models and are less valued.

gold Gruen watch The History of Gruen Watches, Continued (Part 2)

Talking to a watch experts, they’ll tell you that gold plating is without question the most inexpensive method of covering a watch casing because it results in the thinnest layer of the precious, coveted metal. In terms of the original Gruen company, it is believed that it did not produce any gold-plated watches at all.

Gruen watches components The History of Gruen Watches, Continued (Part 2)

The Gruen watch company was one of the very first to make watch gear movement components that were designed specifically for wristwatch style time pieces. For its square watches, it used square movements in a time when the bulk of its competition was slacking off and cutting corners by simply using small round pieces to accomplish the watch movements. If you repair vintage watches, you’ll notice this a lot in the early wristwatches!

Early in 1949, the Gruen family brought their first entirely U.S.-made line of watches to the world with the 21 jewel model of men’s watches that they called the Gruen 21.

Unfortunately for watch enthusiasts, original family owned and U.S. based Gruen Watch Company officially came to an end in the early 1950s–in 1953 to be precise–but Swiss manufacturing companies kept producing the watches under Gruen’s name until 1976. In that year of 1953 when the company really ended, Gruen’s president Benjamin Katz was forced to go into retirement following a massive scandal. The following year, the company purchased all of his shares and bought him out for a sum of two million US dollars. And as mentioned in the years that followed this, other companies continued selling time pieces under the strong and proven Gruen name, but the true Gruen watch company came to a complete end creatively and in its original business form in 1958.

Gruen pentagon pocket watch The History of Gruen Watches, Continued (Part 2)

Today, the Gruen trademark is under the ownership of a company called “MZ Berger” based out of the state of New York in America. This company used to make its watches in China and would sell them in the US through the various sales channels, and today it repairs various brands of old wristwatches. Interestingly enough, sometimes MZ Berger’s phone personnel aren’t clear on the fact that Gruen is one such brand!

Gruen watches chrono timer pearl The History of Gruen Watches, Continued (Part 2)

Something to keep in mind about Gruen watches today, if you’re a collector of old watches: many of the watch price guides you’ll find on the market list inaccurate watch names and dates for a lot of their listed Gruen watches, so you can’t rely on them as much as you’ll have to on knowing experts: the enthusiasts who have been enjoyed and collected them for years and decades. These are beautiful watches and it’s sad to see their story and legacy fading from memory so quickly, so if you’re interested in learning more Gruen watches, you’re probably going to have to seek out the die hard collectors who have a passion for this once innovative watch company.

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The History of Gruen Watches – Part 1

June 20th, 2011
Gruen watches ghost white The History of Gruen Watches   Part 1

At their inception, the original Gruen watches were designed and manufactured by the late German Dietrich Gruen, a horologist who migrated to the US in the year 1867. Later on in the company’s life, the business was taken over by his son, Fred Gruen. At their height, Gruen brand watches were among the most expensive and illustrious time pieces of their era. While they are still made today, Gruen time pieces have long since retired in the way of producing new designs and creating any new product in the horology space.

Gruen watches were famous for having a thinner, more sophisticated form that most watches, and the company marketed their pieces under the name “VeriThin.” Originally, Gruen only produced pocket watches, but even as such, the company’s focus was on making smaller, sleeker, more elegant watches than its competition.

Gruen watches black face The History of Gruen Watches   Part 1

Whereas it’s rivals were manufacturing heavy 18 size watches, Gruen opted to produce size 16 and later 12 size watches, making them more portable and stylish. Gruen was one of the few watch companies to produce wrist watches in the 1920s–when they were starting to gain steam in the minds of American consumers. At the time, a lot of American watch companies opted to continue only with making the traditional pocket watches, and this opened the door for Gruen to stand out as a market leader in the watch world.

Gruen kept leading the market with its influential design decision later on in the 20s when it came out with its Techni-Quadron watch in 1928 that featured a second hand. The company marketed the watch as a “doctor’s watch” because the addition the seconds made it far easier for a practitioner to measure a patient’s heart beat. Going against the trend at the time, Gruen actually sold its watches in completed form, unlike in the different pieces other companies were doing at the time that jewelers would then have to manufacture on their own.

In the year 1937, Gruen released two more influential wristwatches: the Ristside and the Curvex-Ristside, which the company called its “driver’s watches.” While it didn’t make watches for America’s military in the war, Gruen manufactured a collection of watches in the military style for the public, to be used as personal watches. These came in a silver casing and tarnished, but they didn’t corrode, which was the main design idea. With this line, Gruen and the other watch companies at the time felt it important to brand these as “strap watches” instead of “wristwatches” or anything similar so as to avoid any feminine underpinnings the words may have implied at the time, and their advertisements for these military style watches featured “men’s men” in working in manly scenarios–at a construction site, a railroad, in the army:

Gruen watches advertisement The History of Gruen Watches   Part 1

The Gruen watch company kept making its doctor’s watch into the 40s, along with its new “nurse’s watch.” A total of just 600 of these were ever manufactured–one for every month of its 50 year long existence, and the rare quality of these exceptional time pieces only did good things for Gruen’s reputation. The Gruen family was meticulous about the quality of their watches and made the decision to deal directly with the individual retailers selling their watches: no wholesaler or another other type of middle manGruent watch gears and jems The History of Gruen Watches   Part 1 existed in their business, which was a step they took to ensure the quality of their watches. If you have a chance see old Gruen watches in decent shape today, you’re almost certain to notice the piece’s quality craftsmanship and it will stand out to you. This piece is to be continued. If you’re a collector of old watches, be sure to stay tuned!

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Antique Pocket Watches

May 28th, 2011

Watch collectors around the world have been bidding for, buying, collecting, and selling antique pocket watches for a long time. The first horologists created large, boxy time pieces near the beginning of the 16th century, and were only warn by the aristocracy who had the money to purchase these expensive devices, which served as a strong symbol of wealth and status for them. These pocket watches were simply too expensive to be had by the common people.

antique pocket watch arty Antique Pocket Watches

At the time, clocks were being manufactured using heavy, large weights as part of the mechanism. Pocket watches were created by replacing the weights with springs, enabling time keeping devices to be worn on your person with the help of a pocket watch chain. Although they had now been made portable enough to wear, these pocket watches were still a lot larger than the watches we know today. And while they weren’t exactly loaded with features either, some of the rare early models of pocket watches came with a built in alarm mechanism.

There are different types of antique pocket watches, one of the more popular ones being the silver pocket watch. These time pieces trace their origin back to the year 1892, when horologists started using silver to manufacture more luxurious watches. The silver made them very attractive, people considered them a more exclusive item like a piece of fine jewelry, and they often gave the wearer a more genteel, timeless image.

The introduction of silver pocket watches brought a significant movement toward the reduction in size of pocket watches in general: the first silver pocket watches were roughly the the size of a one dollar coin, which almost every model of watch manufactured afterward mimicked. Even today, the size of the pocket watches you can find from the 1900s are all roughly that same size, though their styles and internal working differ quite a bit. In terms of their worth and market value, antique pocket watches can fetch a lot of money at auctions if they are in good condition, their internal mechanisms still function properly, and if they were one of the original manufactured, older watches to be made.

antique pocket watches jewels Antique Pocket Watches

An interesting thing to note about old pocket watches is that some of the watchmakers back in the 17th century actually used jewels in place of the metal bearing pieces inside of the watch’s gear mechanisms as a way of reducing the amount of friction wear on the individual components. These antique pocket watches with the integrated jewels are worth more than the ordinary-component watches, and are valuable as a collector’s item. Other valuable pocket watch collectors go after any watches that were manufactured prior to the year 1700. These are very rare today and can sell for a great deal of money at the auctions.

It should be noted that antique time pieces like pocket watches are most commonly acquired by them being passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms. Therefore, as a collector, it is wise to inquire about antique pocket watches with respect and an awareness of this fact because, for most owners, these watches carry a lot of personal significance in addition to their monetary value, as they have been passed down from their ancestors through different ages and are symbolic of much more than just money, typically.

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The Downside Of Antique Watches: Sometimes They Do Have These Problems

February 23rd, 2011

antique watches beautiful old watch The Downside Of Antique Watches: Sometimes They Do Have These Problems

Antique watches are like a beautiful slice of history you get to wear right on your person, but they do have their disadvantages. Perhaps the biggest downside of old watches is that they typically require more maintenance than modern watches to keep them in good working order. They require maintenance like:

  • regular replacement of their waterproofing component parts.
  • a good wipe with a soft, dry cloth, to remove the sweat and oil it picked up from your wrist. These slowly corrode the old metal on your watch when you wear it all the time. Wiping it regularly with a cloth helps to prevent this corrosion by keeping the oil and sweat from building up on it, and keeps it cleaner and better looking.
  • careful attention to not to place the watch near any devices emitting strong electromagnetic radiation. Watch hands are very then and, as such, they become magnetized easily. So do not place your watch near any older electronic equipment that isn’t magnetically shielded, such as older amplifiers, stereos, TVs…
  • regular winding: antique watches need to be wound regularly to keep their springs loaded, so if you aren’t wearing your old watches regularly, you need to go out of your way to make sure you wind it, otherwise it will stop telling the time. If you have an automatic movement style watch, you need to take some time and swing it back and forth for a few moments, gently, regularly. The easiest way to do this is to just wear the watch for a little while now and then, to maintain its proper functioning.

antique watches crown The Downside Of Antique Watches: Sometimes They Do Have These Problems

The maintenance of old watches can be a bit tricky. For one thing, their parts are not easily accessible, and finding a repair shop that can service an old watch is a bit harder than simply finding any watch repair shop. So if you’re buying a vintage watch from a store, it’s a good idea to first make sure the seller is also able to repair the watch in case it’s needed. A lot of antique watch retailers also sell maintenance manuals for their specific watches for sale, and if you purchase one, it’s important to follow the instructions in the manual very carefully if you decide to service the watch yourself.

The good news is that a just because a watch is old does not mean it won’t work exactly as it should: many antique watches being sold today are in perfect working order, and the beauty of buying a used luxury watch is that you can often get a beautiful authentic watch at a discounted price! There are truly beautiful antique watches that collectors are picking up every day for little money, and with a bit of searching around, you can be doing the same. Happy collecting!

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Antique Watches: A Thing Of the Past And The Future–So Long As You Don’t Get Ripped Off

January 22nd, 2011

Old time pieces are a fine example of the craftsmanship and sharp attention to detail that are sorely lacking from the bulk of brand new time pieces being sold today, hot off the assembly line.  As a result, many people seek out and purchase antique watches for themselves, to triumph over the menagerie of boring watches being sold out there in stores today.

antique watches old ass watch Antique Watches: A Thing Of the Past And The Future  So Long As You Dont Get Ripped Off

People like old watches for many different reasons.  For some, it’s the old-world appearance of the time piece that calls to them.  For others, the fascinating history of the watch that prompts them to dish out thousands of dollars.  And others still take the opportunity to make money off them by reselling them for a profit.

The common wristwatch as it is known today was actually invented many hundreds of years ago, but only became popular at the beginning of the 20th century.  Of course, these first watches drew their inspiration from the far older, original time pieces: sun dials, which were in use millenniums before watches arrived on the scene! But today, there are two primary kinds of old watches: old wrist watches, as well as its older brother: the pocket watch.  Both of these are commonly replicated in a cheapened form by imitation watch makers who sell their time pieces on the black market.

antique watches old pocket watch Antique Watches: A Thing Of the Past And The Future  So Long As You Dont Get Ripped Off

Few people are well educated in horology, and that’s precisely why some many get screwed over by vendors selling them imitation vintage watches.  You need to educate yourself first before buying, so you don’t get pulled into buying a product that looks and seems like the authentic watch you’re looking for, but isn’t and you find that out 3 months down the line when its hands start going haywire.  There is a lot of information online about the differences between authentic and counterfeit vintage watches, and all you have to do is search around a bit.  You can read up about this in online forums with people sharing their experiences and talking about the different issues they dealt with when buying and selling vintage watches.  By investing a little bit of time, you can learn all you need to know about counterfeits.

Most counterfeits are a copy of luxury brand wrist watches, carefully painted and moulded and made to look just like the valuable, trustworthy big names in the business and appealing to customers hungry for status and prestige at a discount price.  This commercial fraud has been going on for a long time now, and it’s because people keep buying these counterfeit products, which supports the industry further and provides the incentive for these thieves to keep producing knock-offs.

antique watches counterfeit watches Antique Watches: A Thing Of the Past And The Future  So Long As You Dont Get Ripped Off

Some customers do not have a problem with purchasing counterfeit watches.  They know what they’re buying and that they’re getting a product that looks just like the real thing and that will work fine for a least a little while, and so they get their ostentatious watch at a discount price.  These are the primary consumers of counterfeit products and so long as they exist, so with the manufacturers of these products.

antique watches the details count Antique Watches: A Thing Of the Past And The Future  So Long As You Dont Get Ripped Off

Many old watches from established companies like Omega, Rolex, Seiko, Breguet, Movado, TAG Heuer, Shakosha, Patek-Philippe, and many more, are being sold across the world in cheap, knock-off form, and if you look around, you’ll find them.  The problem comes when you’re not looking for them and they find you, unaware and unexpecting.  So if you’re looking to buy one of the many great antique watches being sold in a watch store today, protect yourself and do your research first and make sure you’re getting an authentic antique watch and not a counterfeit.  The class of an old watch is timeless, but much of that is lost in fake watches because, as I’m sure you know, beauty and quality is in the details.  And the counterfeit antique watches do not have the details covered, only the superficial, outward general appearance.

 

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Old Watches: Status, Class, And Sophistication

January 10th, 2011

Old watches are a collector’s item, often cherished for their stylish, old-world appearance and as a sign of status, class, and sophistication.

old watches gold date watch Old Watches: Status, Class, And Sophistication

People tend to buy old antique watches for one of two purposes: either to have an interesting looking watch to wear, almost as a conversation piece, or to collect them as a hobby or investment.

old watches pocket watch Old Watches: Status, Class, And Sophistication

Old watches are also an investment. Watches by famous brands like Breguet, Patek-Philippe, Rolex, and so on often sell for hundreds of thousands–even millions–of dollars and accrue additional worth with the passage of time, as the models become more and more rare.

old watches patek simple Old Watches: Status, Class, And Sophistication

Something you need to look out for when buying vintage watches is fake, counterfeit watches that look very similar to genuine antique watches. The market for old watches is a big one and, as a result, many rip-off brand copycat watch makers have sprung up over the years to cash in on unsuspecting watch customers, taking their money and delivering an vastly inferior product on the allure of “being able to” sell them at a lower price (for some strange, magical reason.)

An interesting thing about old watches is that their appeal is mostly cosmetic and based on their status symbol natural: they are typically inferior in their ability to keep accurate time with about 10x the time loss of modern quartz watches, and they generally require maintenance to keep running properly, as their inner workings are far more complex than a standard, inexpensive quartz watch sold today.

old watches gears in motion Old Watches: Status, Class, And Sophistication

Of course, though, the appeal of old watches for many is often the supremely fine craftsmanship and engineering that goes into such a small device, comprised of such a complex set of gear wheels and other similar mechanisms, all housed and working together in a symphony of time-telling tech that you wear on your wrist! It is, indeed, fascinating to watch the inner workings of a fine time piece in motion, with the mechanics exposed of a fine watch and everything fluidly, harmoniously turning and working as one. It’s an understatement at best to call this an aesthetic feat of very fine craftsmanship. By the way, thank you to http://vintage-horloge.startpagina.nl and http://horloge.startpagina.nl for listing us!

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