Monthly Archives: June 2010

Gruen 400

Gruen 400c

Gruen 400 with Wadsworth 10k GF over Sterling case back.

Gruen 400 with Wadsworth 10k GF over Sterling case back.

Research on this movement has been more difficult than most as past sales of the cal 400 are few and far between. I’m not ready to tag it as rare yet but it does have some unique features not present in other veri-thin’s. First, it’s the C model of the 400 which has the curved front which gives the dial some depth.

Gruen cal 400c movement

Gruen cal 400c movement

The movement almost looks like it’ a switch out giving it looks like new old stock in an otherwise worn watch. The other explanation is the watch lost it’s crystal and sat inside a drawer or parts tray where it sustained minor cosmetic damage. The case is gold fill over sterling silver which puts it in the period where steel was being diverted for military use.

Gruen 400c curved profile

Coming with what looks like the original strap or a time correct replacement is a real plus. With minor repair it will stay on the watch finishing it off with a real vintage look.

Phase two of the restoration

gruen 400

Gruen 400 restoration

My lights are packed for another shoot? (will replace when re shot) but this is phase two of the restore. The dial has been cleaned along with the hands. The case while not apparent in this shot has been blocked and smoothed. The scratches have been taken off the lugs and top bevel and sides/ends. The glass crystal has been re set. The only thing left is a good polish of the hands so the bluing will be even and a final polish to remove the previous misses.? All in all this is a very easy restoration due to the amazing condition of the movement. A quick tear down and oil should take no more than an hour and this will be ready for the Sales page, or my wrist for the summer. I’m thinking the latter at the moment.

Update:

I’ve received a couple of emails asking when I was going to put the watch up for sale so I pulled it out to re photo and post on the sales page. Unfortunately the dial after cleaning looked great with the underlying sterling silver taking on the white sheen. After sitting for a month the silver has tarnished and returned to it’s “not so appealing” finish. I’ve ordered a parts movement that comes with a redial and a signed crown. The next step is to send it in the the re finisher after picking out the best markers of the two and having them re applied. The benefit is a beautiful dial with proper second hand and a correct signed crown making it as close to a complete restoration as I can get. With the case being in excellent condition showing very little signs of wear I consider it worth the wait. In conclusion, sorry for the delay but I think it’ll be worth it.

Gruen 400c

Gruen 400c

Gruen GF over sterling silver case

Gruen GF over sterling silver case

Gruen 430 and  440 Curvex

Gruen 440 Curvex and 430 Veri-Thin Touchdown

Always on the lookout for identical models to be used for parts exchange or a source for spare parts I came across this one online. It’s a Gruen “Touchdown” and had what looked like a much better dial than mine so I bought it. The price was quite a bit higher than I’d normally pay for a watch with a broken centre wheel and missing hairspring but I considered the cost of refinishing a two tone dial and it worked out fairly close. Given the choice between better and redial I’ll usually choose better. Nothing against refinishing but hunting for parts that are over sixty years old is part of the challenge.

Gruen 430 and  440 Curvex

Gruen 440 Curvex and 430 Veri-Thin Touchdown

As soon as I uncased both and laid them side by side I noticed the dial was slightly different. The new one was slightly narrower and longer.? Case differences are common but I’d never seen movement or dial variations like this, at least in watches from this decade. The first tipoff came when I examined the dial closer and saw that it was an old redial. Flipping it over I also noticed it was more curved against the front plate and then I noticed the movement.

Gruen 440 Curvex

Gruen 440 Curvex

I was now the owner of a Gruen Curvex, although cased in a Veri-Thin Touchdown. Not exactly the way I imagined my first Curvex but given the price I’m not going to complain. Going online to the Gruen Collectors Forum I found that switching movements was common among watchmakers and that parts from the Veri-Thin were compatible with the Curvex. Once again Mike Barnett came up with an invaluable resource in the form of the Gruen Material Catalogues which list those compatible parts. Thank you Mike and Cary once again. The Catalogues come in PDF form which I prefer since it’s much easier than trying to hold open a book and examine the movement at the same time. Four separate documents are included 448, 453, 539 and 545 which cover most of the movements you’ll commonly find. Mike also carries Bulova material as well so browsing his selection is worth the time. At $9.00 – $19.00? they’re? incredibly cheap and an invaluable research tool.

Gruen material Catalog

Gruen material Catalog

Obviously I have another project now in finding a suitable case and either replacing or refinishing the one that came with it, but either way I’m happy. It’s just another pleasant surprise you find in this hobby.