T H E   G R U E N   W A T C H   C O M P A N Y

  I N T R O D U C T I O N



Watchmaking was an 'art and a mystery' in those medieval days. It was an art because the bretheren of the guild loved their work and labored to produce perfect timepieces ... a 'mystery' because the secrets of the trade were jealously guarded."


—A Worthy Company of Watchmakers, 1918



The great idea of [Dietrich Gruen’s] life was to effect a combination of what was best in the old and new in order to bring forth an ideal that was better than either.


To produce the watch of his dreams, he must have two things. He must have American machinery of the most advanced type—and he must have the very best craftsmen in the world—craftsmen in whom the old guild spirit of fine watchmaking still lived."


—1929 Gruen catalog


Collage of Gruen stuff
  W E L C O M E


  Whether you're a watch collector, someone looking for information about a family heirloom, or are interested in the history of a vanished American industry, I hope you'll find these Gruen pages entertaining and useful.

I've ended the story at 1958, the year Time Hill was closed and the original Gruen company was broken up.

I started this project because I'm unhappy with most Gruen information in print; most is seriously flawed. Many watch collector's books state that Gruen was a Swiss company, founded in Biel, Switzerland, in 1874—every part of this statement is false! The company was American, and was founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1894. Few histories make the connection between the Columbus and Gruen watch companies. Prehaps the saddest thing for collectors is the lack of information about the watches themselves—price guides fail to correctly name most Gruen watches, and many dates are decades off. Even the best and most accurate histories written so far have been limited in scope, concentrating primarily on pocket watches.

In order to keep these web pages easy to read, I have not cluttered them with footnotes. There is a bibliography with comments on the sources page. If you'd like to discuss, dispute, challenge or seek further information about what I've written, please feel free to e-mail me. Although I've tried to be careful in my research, I'm sure there are errors and inconsistencies here, and I'm always grateful for corrections and criticism. If you'd be willing to share material in your collection, or if you can point me to new information, I would appreciate your help. I'm especially interested in hearing from Gruen collectors who will either send me pictures of their watches, or will allow me to photograph them.

Even when the book is finished, I plan to leave these pages up as a service to Gruen collectors and enthusiasts, and to keep updating them as I learn more.

I'd like to extend special thanks to Jack Goldberg, of NAWCC chapter 139, who generously gave permission to use photos from his Watches of the '99 Nationals CD-ROM.

As a final note, I have no connection whatsoever with the past or present Gruen Watch Company—I am motivated simply by my love of the watches they produced.

graphic: Paul's signature

Paul Schliesser
NAWCC #0142558

Please read the FAQ before sending me questions about your watch.

[ 1867 | 1894 | 1904 | 1917 | 1921 | 1922 | 1929 | 1940 ]

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