Lot No. 619 (91st Auction)
Gruen Watch Co., "50th Anniversary Watch", Switzerland, Movement No. 583, Case No. 1070754, 45 mm, 65 g, circa 1924

An important, American precision pocket watch with hand engraved solid pink gold movement in a pentagon case - limited edition "50th Anniversary Watch" - no. 583 of 600 produced pieces - with its original, leather covered splendour wooden box
Case: 14k gold, polished, finely hand-engraved and enamelled edge, inner case back with dedication engraving: "To John M. Richardson An Exemplar Of Honesty in Business From His Co-Workers and Associates Of The Richardson Company XMAS 1924" and enamelled monogram on the outer case back. Dial: two-tone silvered, applied Arabic numerals, auxiliary seconds, trefoil-shaped hands. Movm.: 12k pink gold bridge movement, lavishly engraved with foliate decor, screwed gold chatons, 8 adj., 23 jewels, "Extra Precision", gold screw compensation balance, index spring fine adjusting device, diamond endstone on balance and escape wheel.

Gruen Watch Co.
The early roots of the Gruen Company are found in Columbus, Ohio where Dietrich Gruen and W. J. Savage formed a partnership in 1876. The D. Gruen & Son legacy began in 1894 and flourished with the introduction of fine quality "precision" movements. Curvex movements, ultra-thins and the prestigious 50th anniversary model are highlights of this prolific company.

The "50th Anniversary Watch"
In 1924, Gruen released a special pocket watch in an edition of 600 to commemorate their 50th anniversary (50 years since Dietrich Gruen's 1874 pinion patent). Each watch in the 600 represented one month of the 50 years. This was one of the most extravagant and expensive watches that had ever been made. Gruen promoted this watch as, "the priceless possession of a few."
The plates, bridges and wheels were made of gold, with ornate foliage patterns engraved into their surfaces. The original plan was to use 14k gold for the plates, but they were changed to 12k for engineering reasons. The 23-jewel movement (which included faceted diamond cap jewels on the balance and escape wheels) was "extra-Precision," adjusted to 5 positions and temperature.
Most watches were housed in an 18k yellow or green gold Gruen Pentagon case, but the customer was invited to order his own custom case. (Gruen means "green" in German; especially during the 1920s the company seems to have tried to popularize green gold, although white gold was much more fashionable at the time.)
Externally the Anniversary looks similar to Gruen's other Pentagon models, which lent prestige to and helped sales of these other models---this was part of Gruen's deliberate marketing strategy. Included was a magnificent leather-covered, locking jewellery box with gold and brass fittings. The standard model cost $500 USD, the equivalent of about $15,000 USD today, but many owners chose custom cases at a much higher price. The more ostentatious owner could even choose a solid platinum case studded with diamonds.
Fred Gruen gave the design, manufacturing and sales of this watch his personal attention and everything was handled with great ceremony. The only way potential customers could even arrange to see the watch was to make a request in writing to Fred Gruen, personally. The Anniversary watches were not distributed to, or displayed in, any stores. After the sale, the name of the owner was recorded in a large leather-bound book at Time Hill.
Source:, as of 03/02/2011
Estimate  5,000 - 6,500 €

Price Realised  5,500 €
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