Quadron Movement....what is it??

Thread: Quadron Movement....what is it??

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  1. #1
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    Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Hi all

    I did come over a Gruen watch, from the late 20´s, with what the seller say is a Gruen Quadron Movement.

    What is that? The watch is a very pretty watch, from what I can se. Nice.
    And the maker, Gruen. It was a German watchmaker in US, and then he moved to Swiss...is that right? Making mid range watches?

    Thanks for looking

    Chers
    Vegard_dino
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  2. #2
    Member pacifichrono's Avatar
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Not sure from your photo if it's a "Quadron." Most square/rectangular watches of the 1920s-30s were equipped with round movements, a carryover from pocket watches. The Gruen "Quadron" spread out the movement into the four corners ("quad") resulting in a larger, more accurate movement. You can read more about it here:

    http://www.pixelp.com/GRUEN/1922.html
    Regards from Sunny San Diego..........Tom
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  3. #3
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Looks more like the 1940s to me. JohnF will be able to tell more.

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  5. #4
    Member pacifichrono's Avatar
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray MacDonald View Post
    Looks more like the 1940s to me. JohnF will be able to tell more.
    I think you're probably right, Ray...at least the thirties. It looks more like a standard Gruen tonneau movement.

    Here's a cal. 123 "Quadron" in the RANFFT Pink Pages:

    Regards from Sunny San Diego..........Tom
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    guns and those who dig!"................Blondie to Tuco in TGTB&TU (1966)


  6. #5
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Thanks for the reply and link
    Good information. So, the watch is not from the late 20´s as the seller say. Can it be a fake one?

    Cheers
    Vegard_dino

  7. #6
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Hi -

    What my colleagues have stated is correct, largely.

    Here's a bit of background: up to 1925, all watch movements were round. Plain and simple: there were no other types of movements. Wrist watches - which Gruen claims to have introduced to the US in 1908, based on their advertising of that time - used small versions of pocket watch movements, which while performed well, did not take to scaling down well. Ladies' watch movements of the day, the smaller round movements, tended to have fairly weak mainsprings in comparison to larger movements, and while the moved mass that these smaller mainsprings had to power was also smaller, it wasn't proportionally smaller. Hence these watches didn't have the same "power curve" of the larger ones and the area where the torque of the mainspring is optimal for watch operation was relatively narrow, meaning that if you wanted best performance, you needed to wind the watch several times a day (total running time was not dissimilar, but due to the weaker mainspring, accuracy was compromised).

    Nonetheless, wrist watches were the coming thing. Now, up to ca 1914, wrist watches were ladies' things, i.e. attached to the wrist with a silk cord or two, perhaps a very thin leather band or a fancy chain. As such, wrist watches were effeminate, something for rich women, and even though they came into wide-spread use in WW1, the consumer perception remained.

    Hence the development of square and tonneau cases: these weren't round, announcing, so to speak, that they were something different, something new, created for the new post-war world. Round watches started selling poorly.

    Now, you can put a round movement in a square case, but to achieve better accuracy, you needed to use the largest movement that would fit, partially for the mainpsring, but also for the rest of the movement: I've worked on ladies' watches, and they are vastly more challenging than regular movements in getting everything right. Vastly. The smaller the movement, the more imporant tiny changes become: smaller movememnts are one heck of a lot more difficult to get to work properly than larger movements.

    So, you either had to work more on the smaller (smaller than pocket watches, at least!) movements to get the same accuracy (higher costs mean higher prices or lower profits), or you had to accept worse accuracy for the same selling price.

    The Gruen Quadron, which Pacifichrono links to at Ranfft, came out in 1925 as the first non-round movement. It was submitted to observatories (200 movements) for quality checks (there was no COSC chronometer qualifications back then!), and since there were no standards for wrist watch movements, these were held to the same standards as pocket watches: all 200 received observatory qualification, meaning that they were extremely good timepieces, as good as any others made back then.

    The movement you show in the pictures above is NOT one of those movements, but rather the mass-production version made much later. Pacifichrono is right: using the full area of the watch to put the movement in made for a better watch.

    The watch you show here is hard to place: I tend to agree with Ray (1940s), but it could also be from the relatively late 1930s. Since we have no records, it is impossible to say.

    Gruen itself, as Pacifchronos's link takes you to, was founded by two brothers who came to the US from Germany, started manufacture here, were part of the booming US watch market, and who, at the end of the day, decided to outsource their movement manufacturing to a low-cost third country.

    Which was Switzerland way back when.

    They basically brought the "American" method of watchmaking to Switzerland, leading in many ways to the re-birth of the Swiss industry, moving it from a cottage industry to proper manufacturing. They were part owners of Aegler, who supplied many ebauché movements to leading watch makers of the day, including ... Rolex.

    Gruen stopped being heavily involved in designing their own movements as the company's management quality declined severely, and sold their interest in Aegler. Aegler, part of Rolex today, is still run by the Aegler family, but makes movements exclusively for Rolex.

    Hence these movements, in terms of quality, are really second to none besides the very highest-level movements made. As such, they are invariably excellent time-keepers and eminently collectable.

    As always, with a major downside: there are very few spare parts available, and work on these movements often means that watchmakers must make various parts, meaning that a) you need to find a watchmaker that can do this and b) repairs are very, very expensive.

    But they are sweet watches.

    JohnF

    PS: There is a "Techni-Quadron" which is probably the most accurate of these movements, with a much larger seconds hand and the hour/minute combo is moved up on the face towards the 12.

    PPS: As you can imagine, these were not always the most comfortable watches to wear, since they laid flat on the wrist. Take a look at Curvex watches from Gruen to see more about how that problem was solved...
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  8. #7
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Hi -

    Not fake, but possibly a "Frankenwatch", i.e. assembled from various inventory parts. Can't tell from those pictures, though, and unfortunately the Gruen records for serial numbers and the like were destroyed.

    JohnF
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    I differ from some of the opinions given so far. The movement in the original poster's watch is a "Quadron" movement and the watch is quite likely from the late 1920s, say around 1929. It's certainly not from the 1940s (just look at the style of the dial). The "Quadron" was a production movement and this detail in a Gruen advertisement from 1930 shows the production version:


    photo by Paul Schliesser

    The Quadron movement shown on Ranfft is a special engraved version of the 123 caliber sometimes called the "anniversary" but a movement does not have to be engraved to be a "Quadron".

    Here's a more mundane example of the Gruen 123 Quadron:



    I really see nothing that suggests that what the poster was told about this watch is not true. It does not appear to be any sort of "Frankenwatch" to me.

  10. #9
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Hi -

    I think you're being too harsh on us: all I said is that it wasn't one of the observatory-approved models, but certainly an excellent time keeper, and that it's not a fake, but, rather, at worst a Frankenwatch. That said, it's hard to tell without proper pictures. The case and the movement match, but does the dial? Hard to tell from the pictures.

    In any case - pun intended - it's going to be quite collectible and and excellent time keeper. It has the problems that any watch of this age will have: spare parts will be fairly rare...

    And the case designs I have seen from Gruen from the late 1920s show significant case detailing ("antique" case designs is what they called them), not the smooth case shown here. Doesn't mean it can't be, but given the fact that there are no reliable dates for movements, we can't know.

    Just speculate. You may well be right as well.

    JohnF
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  11. #10
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    Re: Quadron Movement....what is it??

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    この竹垣に 竹たてかけたのは 竹たてかけたかったから 竹たてかけた
    ... it's something about bamboo walls
    "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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