Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

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rwlewis_ct27
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#11 Post by rwlewis_ct27 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:21 pm

timeliz,
thank you for all your help and advice. I learned more from you than I got from 3 days of 'internet research' conducted by myself, my son, and my daughter in law.
thanks again.

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JackW
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#12 Post by JackW » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:09 pm

WOW! What a watch. Thank you for sharing that.

I sent an email to a Gruen pocketwatch collector that I know; he goes by artb and might have some insights too. We'll see.

Cheers!
All I know is based on hard work & writing by others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. -me
"If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Newton

rwlewis_ct27
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#13 Post by rwlewis_ct27 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:52 pm

JackW,
Thank you. I hope we hear back from him.

Bob

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watchdoc
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#14 Post by watchdoc » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:14 pm

When all is said and done, that is a amazing family heirloom! :mrgreen:
"A man is no better than what he leaves behind"
Cecil B. DeMille

Try to remember, Just because you read it on the internet, doesn't make it true!

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thojil
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#15 Post by thojil » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:15 am

Great watch and very rare indeed as many already concluded. What I can contribute is some information that I have collected over the years on researching Gruen pocket watches.

The Dietrich Gruen labelled series was the top of the line range that Gruen offered and consisted of 4 different movements.

• Minute repeater and split second, with minute register and safety locking device
• Minute repeater
• Plain watch, with winding indicator
• Plain watch

IMG_0009.jpg
Blue Book 1916
IMG_0009.jpg (892.52 KiB) Viewed 658 times

All these movements have serial numbers in the range of 41,000 and 42,000. I have recorded in total 21 movements over the years (yours being my no. 21 ;) ) ranging from serial 41,138 a “plain watch” 19j Extra Precision, to serial 42,780 a “minute repeater with split second” 41j Extra Precision.

Of the 21 data points that I have the mix is interesting and is suggesting that the winding indicator was the most popular one in the range.

• 2 Minute repeaters with split second chronograph
• 2 Minute repeaters
• 12 Plain watches with winding indicator
• 5 Plain watches

I guess the minute repeaters were only for the happy few priced at $450 and $650 for the split second version. The plain model priced $265 was $65 more expensive than the lower positioned 19j Ultrathin Extra Precision model (picture below) with no convincing benefits to offer the customer. Both were 19 jewel Extra Precision grades. What made it even more confusing was that the cheaper Ultrathin was even marked Dietrich Gruen on the dial in many cases.
The version with winding indicator was probably the “best buy” priced at $300 in 1916 :lol:

The minute repeater movements were almost certainly produced by LeCoultre. A NAWCC post (B. Hsiung, Sep 2010) confirms that a minute repeater owned by Jack Goldberg has a LeCoultre mark underneath the hammer.

There is no conclusive information who produced the Dietrich Gruen 23j movement with winding indicator. It is almost certain that the winding indicator version is based on the standard Dietrich Gruen 19j movement as the bridge design is completely identical.

One direction that I have researched is whether they were produced by Les Fils de Louis-Elisée Piquet, Le Brassus, later known as Frédéric Piquet, now part of Blancpain. Piquet produced the lower grade “UT” Ultrathin and "UUT" Ultra Ultrathin movements for Gruen between 1912 and 1920.
I have no evidence that they also produced the Dietrich Gruen three hand movement with and without winding indicator. The design similarities however and the fact that Piquet supplied the UT and UUT calibers make me continue to search in that direction though.

Dietrich Gruen power reserve 4.2.JPG
DG caliber power reserve
Dietrich Gruen power reserve 4.2.JPG (242.85 KiB) Viewed 658 times
Dietrich Gruen UltraThin 2.2.jpg
UT caliber
Dietrich Gruen UltraThin 2.2.jpg (254.51 KiB) Viewed 658 times

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timeliz
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#16 Post by timeliz » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:27 am

Thojil,

Thanks for providing your awesome research!

rwlewis_ct27
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#17 Post by rwlewis_ct27 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:26 pm

Thojil,
Thanks. When I started this research project I wouldn't have understood a thing you said. I'm pleased to say I actually understood some of your info. Very interesting. I think I will go ahead and pass this heirloom to my son so he can worry about it. To my way of thinking I no longer need an insurance value because if anything did happen to the watch it is so rare I wouldn't be able to replace it. You may have seen in my earlier posts that this watch originally belonged to my paternal grandfather. He was a 'partner' in an ad agency in Chicago. My father and his siblings grew up with little bells to ring to summon the maids and butler (I have 3 of the bells). Then the Great Depression hit and my grandfather became a farmer to support his family. I'm not sure when or how he obtained this watch, but I'm certainly glad he and my father passed it on. Its a wonderful heirloom. Thanks again for all that info.

Bob L.

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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#18 Post by MikeTheWatchGuy » Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:47 pm

I find the "Guild Era" and slightly before to be one of the most pivotal periods for Gruen.

The craftsmanship is amazing in this piece. Imagine if Gruen had continued to work in this direction :-)

It seems, in my opinion, like Gruen made a conscious decision to embrace "Fashion" as the driving force behind the company versus trying to be THE maker of precision watches. You can see the fork in the road they took starting with the shift in advertising, away from the old-world "Guild" outlook, and towards a women-friendly, less technical product. Katz and Fred Gruen both were fashion oriented. The Curvex movements were not designed with a curve in them to capture a prize for being the most precise watch... they were made that way for aesthetics and fashion.

Other wristwatch makers were making higher-jewel count and likely higher precision movements during the 30's and 40's. Gruen didn't have a 21 jewel movement in all of the 1940s, right? Not a single movement was made in the 1940s that exceeded 17 jewels. Of course "jewel count" isn't the only measure of precision, but it DID and DOES play a role when the jewels are applied in the right area of the movement. Hamilton had a 19 jewel movement for example.

I believe the 3251 was the last of the 21 jewel wristwatch movements until the 3351 in the 1950s. The 325 was out of production prior to 1940 and the 335 didn't come to be until about 1950, a span that may have been up to 15 years.

I don't believe Gruens were BAD movements. They were well made, precise [enough]. They even passed observatory tests for the Quadrons, but the hyper-focus required to be truly precise seemed to end in the Quadron / Pre-Curvex era.
Image

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JackW
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#19 Post by JackW » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:17 pm

The elephant in the room for this time period of which you are speaking, Mike, is the Great Depression. This should not be left out of the equation for Gruen's shift as you observe. To me economy played the central role and likely everything else followed. As to fashion, the early 20th century was a period of rapid changes unlike the following 60 years with art movements impacting all aspects of design and art: The decline of Art Nouveau (complete by the 1920s), the rise of Art Deco in the mid/late 1920s and the further changes to modernism in the 1930s. I think Gruen was a head of the curve in the US market because most of the fashion changes were being driven in Europe. Certainly you'll agree that Gruen always kept one foot firmly planted over there, thus freely drawing from the breadth of Swiss watch making, ebauche suppliers and the design houses. American companies in contrast were behemouths that seemingly reacted slowly to the fashion and economic realities even before the depression hit.
they were made that way for aesthetics and fashion
. I agree but that is just a portion of why watches like the Curvex, especially early ones are so collectible. The movement was an innovation too. I think that Gruen also became more focused on watch movements in the 1930s into the 1940s transitioning from the guild concept to exclusively (or nearly so) employ movements that were solely Gruen made. (Blasphemy warning....) I'd also posit that Gruen's movements were not as good as their American competitors until much later (the cal 405/420 series). Hamilton for example was about the size of Gruen but had far fewer movement calibers and design choices in 1928; commonly using for example the same 6/0s movement in both men's and woman's wrist watches. From what I can tell, Hamilton had 17 and 19-jewel variations on the same movement and was going for a higher-end market then Gruen. What brings this around to the OP in this comment is that the movement in the watch is likely not produced by Gruen but was finished for them (or by them) as others have postulated previously for Gruen's high-end watches. I would not however call Gruen of the 1930s just a "fashion" watch because they continued with serious innovations within movement design and was a theme of their advertising..

I'll also add the caveat that my opinion is biased by being focused on wrist watches rather than pocket watches.
All I know is based on hard work & writing by others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. -me
"If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Newton

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watchdoc
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Re: Dietrich Gruen Precision Watch - HELP!

#20 Post by watchdoc » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:28 pm

American companies in contrast were behemouths that seemingly reacted slowly to the fashion and economic realities even before the depression hit
I kinda have to disagree with you there Jack.

Have you seen, for example, the early advertising for Bulova? Their 20's/30's ads were full of "fashion" vs. "cutting edge mechanics" and I'm sure there are plenty more examples. ;)
"A man is no better than what he leaves behind"
Cecil B. DeMille

Try to remember, Just because you read it on the internet, doesn't make it true!

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