First Swiss made Columbus watch

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  1. #1
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    First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Plenty of info available about the Swiss watches by Aeby that were finished and cased by Dietrich Gruen as the first Columbus watches 1876+. What is not clear to me is why they are described as U.S. case sizes as well as Swiss ligne sizes. One of the most popular is shown here with couple of seller's photos. Original case, dial, and so called 18s movnt. in American 18s case by Essex Columbia front and back screw case perfectly fitted with set lever and smooth stem winding although keywinder model. 13080 indicates about 1880. Very nicely finished movemnet, far better looking than Gruens early designs, I found with a filler ring in the case indicating probably 19+ ligne not 18s. I have been sincerely told this movement fits directly into 18s case. 13080 would be loose. Original dial is 45 mm and larger than mvnt. plate. So I believe these Aeby movements were not Gruen design except for using his 1874 patented safety pinion, as all U.S. makers eventually did. As a Gruen collector glad to have this still nicely running Gruen endorsed unpopular cheap Swiss antique. The dial is in the then current finest Swiss watch stye with skinny Roman numbers and big seconds scale. Sometimes called a Jurgensen dial. I have one about same age 1877 shown here. Gruen always tried to do classy stuff. The CWC marked dial is a durable porcelain on copper plate. Typical of the best. Took a severe shock at 6 on the dial without cracking elsewhere.
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    Last edited by artb; November 30th, 2010 at 23:27.

  2. #2
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    I belive Deiter imported these Swiss movements while he was arranging financing to acquire machinery for his own manufacture. At this point the watches were being made in the basement of a bank at the corner of Broad and High, now the exact center of downtown Columbus.

    Art, how long was it before he started making his own movements?
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  3. #3
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Sometime after 1882. The Swiss movements were still sold after the first 1883 Gruen designed 18s that were available either key or stem wind. 15j maximum. Last Swiss ones had serials 20,000+. By 1887 had 280 people working. From the little $10.book on ebay reproducing some old publications info by Greg.

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  5. #4
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Excellent catch Artb, now I know how these early Columbus watches looked and
    a great addition to your Gruen collection.

    These dials with their slender Roman numerals, IMO are the most elegant
    watch dial ever produced for the pocket watch .....minimalist uncluttered design,
    beautifully elegant yet entirely functional, understated yet shouts quality.
    Far superior to the brash, cluttered large numbers of the RR watch type dials,IMO.
    I've often wondered why the Railroad Standards didn't adopt a dial style such as this.

  6. #5
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Perhaps because the users of railroad watches needed to be able to quickly and accurately determine what time it was (to the minute) through a film of coal-dust, soot and sweat, by the light of a lamp, so that they didn't accidentally run into another train. ;)
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  7. #6
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    For quite a few years rr used watches had Roman dials. Perhaps if Radger sees this I would like to know if my name for it, Early English RR Watch, is plausible. Well made 30 tooth Massey lever, adjustable bimetal balance. Substantial well sealed case. In addition here a Crescent St. 1874 Waltham made to be a RR is also with Roman dial. A rare early version of this popular Waltham. Marked American Watch in and out, and with push in lever set called nail set. Was it about 1900 RRs got to be the big hand and numbers style for maximum visibility.
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    Last edited by artb; December 1st, 2010 at 01:54.

  8. #7
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    I do not know if any railroad mandated Montgomery dials, but I would think they would be the most legible form of getting the time read to the minute. But as I have perceived it, most railroads were worried about the time keeping ability of the watch. The only legibility requirement I know of is the requirement for an open face case.

    To support radger's point on design, I have seen repeated use of simulated pocket watches as clocks in interior design. Almost always these designers pick Roman dials. It does have a good aesthetic sense.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  9. #8
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Interesting that early U.S RR watches used traditional, uncluttered design
    as in the 1874 Waltham.

    Art, your fine Liverpool Massey lever could well have been used as a railroad
    watch in the U.S but it's probably to good and expensive to have been used as
    a railway workmans watch in the UK.

    This may seem strange to collectors expecting fine quality in a railroad watch but the
    needs for long term accuracy in U.S differed to the UK as safety systems were in place to ensure
    that two trains were never on the same section of track at the same time. Plus Railway
    Stations over here are only a few miles apart and so continual checks could be made against
    the station clocks i.e life and limb was never in danger if the guardsmans watch was
    running slow...only the passengers convenience and in those bygone days I'm sure
    the disgruntled passengers would soon put his watch right :)

  10. #9
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Your good explanation is a good example how people from different countries can improperly, like myself, make comparisons. I now suppose the Brit situation was reason for no rr standards for watches.

  11. #10
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: First Swiss made Columbus watch

    Prior to the big crash in (i think) 1874, the only "Standards" were the ones imposed by each railroad itself. The general railroad time standards were adopted after the crash (but were still just a "recommendation" that each railroad implemented as they saw fit). I believe the general standard called for arabic numerals, to avoid confusion, and minute-markers in at least 5 min intervals.

    Canadian standards, on the other hand, allowed for roman numerals, and required 24hr markings (in large part because the CPR rail schedules were all done in 24hr time.)
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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