Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

Thread: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

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  1. #1
    Member JackW's Avatar
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    Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    The swiss patent number 51482 is featured in these posts: here and especially here where Trim provides a picture to accompany the patent, which is here.

    Today I acquired a Gruen Caliber 98 with the patent number of 51482 next to the Swiss Cross. This is the same patent that is presented in the above threads and is registered to Fontainemelon.
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    Now the winding mechanism at first glance doesn't look like the images associated; heck not at all really. But is is similar in set and clutch levers. In the examples on the trench watches also marked with this patent number they all have the distinctive circular detent. This simply has what looks like a return spring. What gives?

    Here are more pictures...
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    The other thing that strikes me is the similarity in the arrangement of the barrel bridge with the distinctive ratchet and crown wheels. It is similar to other high end Gruen movements, such at the cal 47, the cal 93 and some of the pocket watch movements that Art B. has discussed, example here. I have seen the Swiss patent number 31609 associated with this set up, and registered to C.H. Meylan but I do not have a corresponding image.

    Anyone have some ideas?
    Last edited by JackW; September 8th, 2012 at 04:48.
    All that I know is based on the hard work and writing of others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. To quote Newton, "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

  2. #2
    Member JackW's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Well, as far as I can tell, for the Gruen-iphliles out there, this is new information: That Font or Fontainemelon made this movement. Font has been identified as the maker (or at least supplied the ebouche base) of the Gruen cal. 885, which is a rather common movement. The cal 98 is often seen in the "Tank" watches that were briefly marketed by Gruen in the 1920s.
    All that I know is based on the hard work and writing of others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. To quote Newton, "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

  3. #3
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Interesting information!

    I was by Gruen's Columbus Watch Co's finishing building a couple of months ago. It appears to be all that remains from the original factory and is currently in an office-based adaptive reuse.
    "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!

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  5. #4
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    The patent in question describes the combination of the setting lever, clutch lever and setting lever spring to move the clutch wheel up and down. In principle, any watch that combines those three elements would be using this patent, and they would need to pay appropriate royalties. The presence of the patent number doesn't mean that the watch was made by FHF, only that they paid FHF for the technology.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  6. #5
    Member JackW's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    The presence of the patent number doesn't mean that the watch was made by FHF, only that they paid FHF for the technology.
    Hello AbslomRob,

    That is certainly a way to look at it that I did not consider. Do you know if this was a common practice in the watch industry back in the 1920s? Are there examples that you can point too where this is known to have occurred? I would think that it would have been more logical for a business at the time, and the patent holder, especial a known movement movement maker, would reap greater profit from supplying the movement rather than selling the rights. I'm open to all ideas, because likely we'll never be able to say with certainty, unless Font's records become available. We can certainly make a good approximation with the evidence at hand, and if swapping or selling patent rights was a practice of the period then it is a likely explanation. Then we'll have evidence that potentially Gruen was using outside patented concepts within their movement designs. Could then explain the inclusion of what looks to possibly be Meylan inspired designs elements in the barrel bridge.

    Cheers!
    All that I know is based on the hard work and writing of others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. To quote Newton, "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

  7. #6
    Member Bazzab's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Quote Originally Posted by JackW View Post
    "Tank" watches that were briefly marketed by Gruen in the 1920s.
    The Gruen Tank watch seems to have run from 1924 to 1930
    A Ebay seller states they have a ad from 1923 showing a Tank, but I cant see a date to confirm it
    Mike Barnett book, Gruen A Watch model Identification Guide shows an ad from 1924
    The Gruen Guild Book dated 1930 shows several models of Tanks
    Bruce Shawkeys Book Gruen Wristwatches: A Collector's Guide says 1935 for the Tank, but I have yet to find anything to support the later date


    The watch was fitted with several movements including as JackW said a 885, the last one being, I believe, a caliber 315 in both 15 and 17 jewel movements


    A myth seems to have sprung up around the use of the word Tank, and that Cartier took Gruen to court over an infringement of name copyright of some kind.
    I tried to confirm this story but to date have failed to do so if anybody knows any more. Please let me know.
    I did find that Bulova had a problem with patent infringement on Gruens case design but seem to be settled out of court, so details are no readily available
    Last edited by Bazzab; September 11th, 2012 at 23:50.

  8. #7
    Member JackW's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Hello B.

    How are you? Interesting what you say on the Tank issue; certainly know the word is rather charged for its use on eBay. I often wonder if the reports of sellers being contacted are because of efforts by ne'er-do-wells rather than bonafide reps of Cartier. What ever the case, Gruen DID have a 'Tank' line as you say and the cal 98 was among the moments used. It is known that Gruen was operating on the 'Guild system' which was as you will rightly know a loose association of independent (or jointly owned) movement suppliers that seemed together for mutual cooperation and benefit. Certainly, as AbslomRob suggested rights to patents could have been traded or sold as part of this 'Guild'; it is just that I am not aware of this practice at the time. Do you have any insights?

    Would like to hear more about the Bulova infringement case, but that is for another thread. hint...hint...
    All that I know is based on the hard work and writing of others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. To quote Newton, "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

  9. #8
    Member Bazzab's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    I really dont have any insights into the whole Guild thing There seems to be so many Grey areas with the Guild.I came across a Guild movement recently marked Factory T, I have no idea who made it, here no caliber number and its in a non Gruen hinged case
    I post pics later
    The question of the Bulova copyright,again, is it something that Bruce Shawkey covered, briefly, in his book Gruen Wristwatches: A Collector's Guide
    I also recollect Cary Hurt mentioning something about it on another forum, sometime ago. I have found nothing to add, so far!!!!
    B

  10. #9
    Member JackW's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Another clue, but is it related?

    So I bought this one on eBay as part of my curiosity into makers of watches for Gruen. It likely came out of a small pocketwatch or purse watch. It is similar to the cal 91 and cal 47 as well as some of the higher-end pocket watch movements that ArtB has identified. It is a 17-jewel movement. It is 24.85 mm in diameter, just a hair over 11'". Although my calipers may be off just a bit so it is likely close enough 24.81 mm. Beyond these basics, I have no idea which Gruen caliber this is.Name:  Rannaz.JPG
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    It is marked only once with Gruen on the central train bridge. Under the barrel bridge it is marked with 'Rannaz'. Rannaz Company of Switzerland was a maker of ébauche movements. The only information I could find was here: LINK, but I don't think there is a reason to believe that there is a connection to the main subject of that article.

    I am begining to think that maybe AlbsolmRob is right in that components developed from different companies may be incorporated into a single watch. This is now the third example of similar barrel bridge design, including the click with widely differing setting levers.

    Searching for 'Rannaz' here on WUS or the WUS forums turns up nothing. Anyone have further info on Rannaz?
    All that I know is based on the hard work and writing of others. I can only aspire to augment this body of knowledge. If I am wrong it is because of my own failings. To quote Newton, "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

  11. #10
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Gruen cal. 98 and Swiss Patent 51482

    Are you sure it doesn't say Aggasiz? He used this ebauche extensively...
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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