The Gruen watch making company started its life very early in 1870, in the US province of Columbus, Ohio. Started by Dietrich, a German immigrant who had served his time as an apprentice in Switzerland before taking the bold step of moving to the US, the company has become synonymous with quality timepieces worldwide.
In 1894, Dietrich's son Friedrich joined the company and its name was duly changed to Gruen & Son. In 1897 the company by another family member; Georg, which required that the name was changed once again to D. Gruen & Sons.
For most of the company's early years, movements were brought in from Switzerland, because at that early stage of watch making the US was lagging behind in the ability to make quality movements. Later with the advent of production line precision engineering the US would overtake the Swiss in machining capability, but at the time it was thought that it would be logical to open a sister manufacturing company in Bienne.
For a time all the company's movements were made in Switzerland and shipped to the US for completion. All watch cases were still manufactured in the US and as the US was their largest market, this was the most logical course of action at the time. It was also a good business model, as complete watches imported to the US attracted huge import duties, while importing incomplete watches proved more financially viable.
Gruen made some good quality, extremely thin caliber movements and incorporated these in Women's watches, something that proved very popular in the early 1900s in the US. The popularity of these watches gave the company the resources to explore other innovative features, and to that end many fabulous quality chronographs and complicated watches were made.
Not all movements were made in-house, its main supplier was Aegler, who also supplied movements to other quality brands like Rolex. You will therefore find the same movement in the Techi-Quadron and the Rolex Prince. Probably the most famous model that Gruen made was the 'VeriThin'. The pocket watch range was a real breakthrough at the time, with the new movement reducing the size of the watch considerably.
For the collector, the VeriThin is highly collectible in all its forms, either pocket or wrist watches. The Curvex was a watch that had a curved shape to fit around the wrist, again highly collectible, especially if you can buy them with their original boxes.
There is a huge mountain of information about Gruen and this tiny article only scratches the surface of this great watch maker. Gruen is one of my most favorite of all watches.
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