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Discussion Starter #1
Something about the design of this watch dial ( which has an odd tale behind it ) said theres no need for a second hand, as the hand are basically originally open centered? Sorry no movement pics, but then again..nope. I chipped the porcelain dial by fates hand..the watch flew off my wrist onto a concrete floor and chipped it ...still runs fine! What are your impressions of the design..see how the minute hand almost hovers over the six outer markers between hours. Not to mention the minute markers on the very rim.....movement knowledge a must? Thanks for any input. P&P
 

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It's impossible to see whether or not there's a pinion for a seconds hand, so… but it does seem that having a chapter track like this would suggest that it should be a three hand watch. Logically.

I have no idea what you mean when you say 'open centered." I think that the hands – which I suspect had little to do with this watch originally – are missing their luminescent infill.

The dial looks to me to have been repainted, by the way. Look at the way the numeral edges where they meet the dial proper are filled with paint. And the chapter track doesn't come close to lining up with the hour markers.

I really doubt that this is a porcelain dial, but suspect that it's just a heavily painted modern enamel dial (ie not fired) that has been pad printed over that with a fancy chapter track
 

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This looks to be a painted metal dial, not porcelain. You don't get applied (or embossed) numerals and markers on porcelain, and you're very unlikely to get a porcelain dial on a 1960s Gruen Precision wristwatch in any case. It would have had a sweep seconds hand, and the hour & minute hands would have been filled with lume.

It may be a redial. The printed minute chapter doesn't appear to line up too well with the minute markers in places, particularly in the top half of the dial. That's not always necessarily a trait of a redial but in many cases it is. Lots of vintage watches have been redialed in black in the belief it boosts their appeal.
 

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I found this dial, which appears to be the negative image of yours. As you can see, there should be lume in the hands and lume dots on the dial. It looks like your hands may be original, but that you are missing a second hand.

Edit: Upon closer inspection, I see that your dial DOES have lume dots.

gruen.jpg
 

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Hello...I have the same watch that "badbackdan" has--and I've seen several other Gruen's that are quite a bit like your's...I feel that your's absolutely had a second's hand!

Too bad the Old Fellow flew away from you, & the dial suffered...kinda neat, tho, that the crystal managed to survive the excursion, and that you were able to re-install it...
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for the remarks. I can see from badbackdans handsome model, that yes, a second hand was once there. The only quibble I have is the remarks about the non porcelain dial. I was there to put it back together and frankly was surprised to see that it was in fact, if not porcelain , some composite material that is black. And ran through the entire valley side of the chip. And its a pretty deep chip. I have worked with ceramics since I was a kid,( though not very recently)and I ll eat my hat if it wasn't some thing as I describe, though if not porcelain,what? Enamel? I also was not alone and my assistant was interested in my vintage watches, and as freaked as I was when it went flying. He looked into the mini valley wall, as well. I can only relate what I saw and continue to see. As for a redone dial it makes no sense in light of that experience with the watch.The photos show little depth but the chip slants downward. Metal does not act or crack that way. Cant help it but its a witnessed fact. Though how common are enamel dials and how thick? By the way, enamel by its very definition, is in fact fired. Thanks for shedding some light on the second hand situation and your thoughts on the chip.
 

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Just to be clear about the photo I posted. It's not my watch, I just found the photo online and posted it because I thought it would be helpful. Sorry if I made it sound like it I owned it.

You would obviously be in the best position to identify the material of the dial, since you can see the damage, and I think that enamel on a metal substrate would be a good bet. I don't think that solid porcelain dials were very common on wristwatches in that era.

I think that some of the speculation about the dial being refinished came from the apparent misalignment of the painted hour markers and applied hour markers. However, this may well be an artifact of the angle at which the photograph was taken. You can satisfy yourself on this score by carefully viewing the watch straight down from above because as we are well-aware, reflections, shadows, and foreshortening can distort things in photos.
 

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As previously noted, I don't think this is what you are referring to as a porcelain dial. Fired porcelain wasn't used in dials in the era that this watch was made. And the numbers are definitely applied, as also previously noted, and this was not how porcelain dials were made – the numbers were printed on top of the base coat and the whole thing fired.

So…it really can only be a thick coat or two of common enamel paint, the original numerals masked off. The paint is creeping up the sides of the numerals and filling in the centres of them, as you can plainly see. It's not hard to imagine a coat or two achieving some thickness and enough to chip off as this has.

As I earlier said as well, I think that the dial has been redone. Someone painted the black base layer with black enamel spray paint, something like Testor's paint used for model making. Then they – probably – pad printed the chapter ring onto that.

"As for a redone dial it makes no sense in light of that experience with the watch" – I have no idea why you say this. It makes no sense in light of the fact that you can plainly see the misalignment of the chapter ring and hour markers. It never, ever, left the factory like that and wishing it to be so won't change its condition.

Thanks for the remarks. I can see from badbackdans handsome model, that yes, a second hand was once there. The only quibble I have is the remarks about the non porcelain dial. I was there to put it back together and frankly was surprised to see that it was in fact, if not porcelain , some composite material that is black. And ran through the entire valley side of the chip. And its a pretty deep chip. I have worked with ceramics since I was a kid,( though not very recently)and I ll eat my hat if it wasn't some thing as I describe, though if not porcelain,what? Enamel? I also was not alone and my assistant was interested in my vintage watches, and as freaked as I was when it went flying. He looked into the mini valley wall, as well. I can only relate what I saw and continue to see. As for a redone dial it makes no sense in light of that experience with the watch.The photos show little depth but the chip slants downward. Metal does not act or crack that way. Cant help it but its a witnessed fact. Though how common are enamel dials and how thick? By the way, enamel by its very definition, is in fact fired. Thanks for shedding some light on the second hand situation and your thoughts on the chip.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I know about thick coats of paint of all types as I painted and ended up with a B.F.A.from fine private art institution and a fine arts Masters as well. I painted in many mediums as well as sculpted in clays, made jewelry with enamel work (fired) etc This was not testors paint. If Im adamant about what is is made from, well call me pig headed, with over weening sense of pride in my knowledge of some materials .More like what was suggested: composite materiel over a metal base. I see the misalignment now and if its a redial its pretty good, but you are seeing some distortion. Oh well, que sera sera. Its the second hand Im now sure of and I will see to one, one of these days.
 

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If you take a look at this link, you'd need a .25 "white" or "silver" or "nickel" depending on the nomenclature you prefer – and if I'm right about my earlier guess at the calibre inside.

To round off on terms: "Enamel dials were made by firing a layer (or several layers) of ground enamel powder (essentially finely ground glass) onto a substrate of metal (usually copper). The enamel was applied to both the front and back of the copper plate in order to provide additional stiffness to the dial. The front surface was then polished and the numerals and markers were painted on and then re-fired to produce a hard, durable and attractive finish. Enamel dial-making was a labor intensive process that was as much art as it was manufacturing, and finding and preserving these wonderful old dials should be a priority for vintage watch collectors.

Enamel dials are quite often incorrectly called porcelain dials. They are NOT made of porcelain, which has no metal substrate and is a different material altogether. The correct term is enamel dial. Some watch collectors will say "Well it's called porcelain enamel." No... it isn't. It's only called that by people who don't know that it should be called enamel."


It's a slightly pedantic point, and I'm sure you get the distinction; I'm just putting this up for general information of others on this forum who may read this thread.

And, according to Tourby Watches, enamel dials date from "Approximate Period 1660 - 1880" It's a date claim that others would argue; obviously some dials were made after this and continue to be to date. But broadly, I think suffice to say that it is very unlikely that this dial was a production enamel dial, as the watch dates to ca 1960. Although perhaps someone redid it in enamel? Anything is possible; but as the Gruen watch company were pretty much on their knees when this watch was made, it's very unlikely that they did so.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
To tell the truth I havent seen the dial damage w/o the crystal in 15 years, since it went flying and I put the crystal back on in 15 minutes. My impression at the time, of the thickness in the little valley puzzled me. I can see it under curving glass in real life as well, under magnification. Frankly dont care much. Its the second hand I was interested in. Thanks for your input.
 

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If I owned this Gruen, I'd say it has a 'painted metal dial'. If you had Posted an image, say, of a Hamilton Railroad-Grade pocket watch with a white ( obviously not metal, dial...) I'd describe it as having a "white enamel dial'. I suggest that most 'watch-people' would, too!

There are two words in English that come to mind here: "Denotation" and "Connotation"; the former pertains to the Dictionary meaning; the latter to what's known as associated meaning...put another way: for a given group of language users, a word or phrase may have quite different meanings that the one presented in Webster. Michael.
 
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