Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vintage Gruen Curvex

Today I'm wearing a vintage Gruen Curvex that I got from my father. I'm certainly no expert on these but I'll pass along what knowledge I have. The Curvex was so named because the movement was specially designed to fit inside a case curved to fit the wearer's wrist. The problem with making a long, narrow, curving watch case is that a normal full-sized movement will be too large. This watch is 48mm long but less than 21mm wide. One way to fix this is to fit a smaller movement in the case which was done by Gruen (before the Curvex) as well as some other manufacturers. Gruen developed a series of movements that were full-sized but had the necessary curvature on the dial side and clearance on the back for a heavily curved case. Here's a comparison diagram from a vintage Gruen advertisement. This watch contains the original Curvex movement, the calibre 311, which was released in 1935. I don't know for how long the 311 was produced, but in 1937 the calibre 330 was released which was thinner and more curved. I haven't found a source for Gruen serial numbers that makes sense to me so I can't put an exact date on this watch, but based on the movement it's probably from between 1935 and 1940. It's an exceedingly attractive design, slender but masculine, simple but with very nice details on the dial and bevels on the case, and with a slightly domed crystal that serves to accentuate the curve of the dial and case. It is truly an iconic art deco design. Some great information about Gruen can be found here. This particular watch has been serviced throughout its lifetime, but not recently. As a result, it only runs sporadically and is definitely in need of a good cleaning. This will go on my list of watches that will be taken to my watchmaker the next time I go.


Unknown said...

Do you know what this is worth? I have one that I think is older, it has 15 jewels and the only thing printed on the dial is "Gruen".

Jason said...

I don't know what it's worth. If I was curious I'd look at eBay or one of the many vintage watch sellers online. Your Gruen sounds like it in the style of a Curvex, but to the best of my knowledge all real Curvex models were 17-jewel movements.

Mike The Watch Guy said...

This watch is a 1936 Gruen Curvex Royal. They originally sold for $59.50 which is $950 in today's dollars. It was one of the very first Curvexes made.
The way you can tell it's a Curvex Royal is from the "rectangular window" on top of the bezel. I don't know how to describe it better than that. It's like a framed piece of glass set down on top of the bezel.

You can see this watch and more Gruen watch models identified in my book, The Gruen Watch Model Identification Guide.

You can also cruise on over to the Gruen enthusiasts site at

Fantastic watch you have!!