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Curiously, the process for dating the earliest Gruen wristwatches -- from about 1915 to 1935 or so -- is probably the easiest because of the limited number of movements that Gruen had available, and the resulting relatively small number of specific models.
The wonderful Gruen Guild Book that the company put out between 1929 and about 1931 (and widely available online) is arguably close to a "Masterbook" of Gruen watches, particularly wristwatches made up to that time period.
Should be no surprise that the graph shows the first Caliber 311 Style Numbers started in 1935 and they ended in 1937.
There is precious little information "out there," unlike many other popular brands such Hamilton, Rolex, Omega, Elgin and others.
Not so for Gruen, being the "orphan child" without a birth certificate because of a rather complicated method of serializing their movements, the records for which have been long lost, and most likely destroyed.You are encouraged to read the article for important information about using Style Numbers.Download Ver 4.0 of the free Windows program that provides date and other information given a Style Number.But from about the mid 1930s to 1958 (when Gruen ceased production of watches at their factory in Cincinnati), the number of movement calibers exploded, and the serializing of those movements took on byzantine characteristics that make Egyptian hieroglyphic look like a Kindergarten reading primer by comparison. But, ironically for some, it is a great source of fun and fascination, as the process of dating a given specimen often involves piecing nuggets of information together from far-flung resources.The chance to play the starring role in your own mini version of CSI (a popular crime show on the CBS Television Network in case you've been living in a cave for about the last decade or so) is irresistible to some.