Exploring a late 1930s Gruen Curvex Watch: Part I
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Grateful for your patience, as I experiment with watch posting on Substack rather than Twitter. I promise more subscriber content that isn’t just watches, but this was on my mind today.
The German watchmaker Dietrich Grün founded the Gruen Watch Co. in Ohio in 1894. It eventually became one of the largest American watch producers; the watches were cased and adjusted in America, but the movements were produced in Switzerland. Above all, Gruen are famous for their Curvex watches, introduced in 1935. These were curved to fit the contours of the wrist, and they’re eagerly collected today.
It wasn’t just the case, but the movement itself, that was lightly contoured. Here’s an ad from 1938 explaining the benefits of “The New Curvex Way”:
I’m happy to report that an old broken curvex movement, bearing the first contoured calibre (no. 330), has found its way to me. I bought it on ebay with a bunch of old watches, and it’s not in the best shape. Here we’ll have a look inside, and if you find this interesting, in future posts maybe I’ll take it apart, reassemble it and try to get it running again.
It’s missing its crystal, and the dial has taken a beating, though it could be worse. Also the winding crown is missing. Gruen produced a wide array of slightly different Curvex models, with names like “Master” and “Captain” and so forth, all with slightly different crystals, cases and dials. It’s actually very difficult to work out the model name of a given Curvex watch, but by taking case measurements, I eventually figured out this was a Curvex “Lieutenant.” It sold for $50 in 1939:
The first thing to do is open up the case. It comes apart like this.