For 64 years the Gruen Watch Co. was one of America's premier watchmakers. The U. S. military, sports enthusiasts and the fashionable and wealthy valued Gruen's innovative technology, quality and sophisticated designs. Today its timepieces have a following among collectors and those who want to own a fine vintage timepiece.
The Gruen Watch Company produced pocket watches and wristwatches from 1874 to 1958. By the end of the 19th century, its timepieces were famous for their high quality and craftsmanship. This continued from 1910 to 1930, when the brand was one of the most prestigious and expensive in the country. The company went out of business in 1958. Currently, various manufacturers have bought the rights to the Gruen name. These are quartz watches that are not up to the quality of the original Gruens and should not be confused with them.
Born in Germany in 1847, Dietrich Gruen began learning watchmaking when he was 15 years old. After emigrating to the U. S. and settling in Columbus, Ohio, he started the Columbus Watch Manufacturing Co. in 1874. Six years, later the company's name was changed to the Columbus Watch Co. Gruen left the Columbus Watch Co. in 1898 to establish D. Gruen, Sons & Co. with his son Friedrich. Dietrich Gruen died in 1911 and Friedrich Gruen took over the company.
In 1922, three Gruen watch companies merged to create the Gruen Watch Co. The watchmaker continued making innovative, prestigious timepieces through 1958. By then it had legal and other problems, and the owners sold it in 1958 to M. Z. Berger. It continued to manufacture watches under the Gruen name until 1973. Not realising the importance of the watchmaker's accomplishments, the new owners destroyed the company's original technical records. Rolex bought the company's in the early 1970s and made one more attempt to resurrect the brand. Gruen timepieces have not been manufactured since 1976.
The Gruen Watch Co. developed wristwatch technology that continues to be used today. The company developed the first watch wound with a stem. The 1925 men's Quadron was a rectangular wristwatch that improved accuracy by rearranging the movement. Watches produced for the military during World War I and World War II introduced such features as luminous hands. They also had silver cases that didn't corrode. In 1935, the company designed the Curvex, Gruen's best-known timepiece. This watch had a curved face to fit the wrist more tightly. The VeriThin watch was a forerunner of today's thin, light watches. Gruen also invented an alloy that stabilised a watch's accuracy during changes in temperature.
Owners and collectors of Gruen vintage mechanical watches prize them for their meticulous quality and classic 1920s and 1930s designs. There are several companies in the U. S. that are able to service Gruen mechanical watches.
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