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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Dietrich Gruen was president Of Columbus 1874-94. Age 21-41 before organizing Gruen watch business. I never kept any old Columbus watches and had some good ones. As a recent Gruen collector recently bought an 1888 16 size with odd regulator and a very good 1894 Railway King. These are both Gruen designs not the Aeby Swiss movements used by Gruen in early Columbus watches. Columbus was a small volume producer. 1888 10 per day made. 1894 serial number only 230,000. Lever setting moves sideways clockwise to set. Not sure later ones do.
 

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Early Columbus Watch Co is interesting. Yesterday I lost the opportunity of buying one like in your first picture (which by some reason does not expand to full size) due to my computer went into a freeze. I hate that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Photo checks o.k. here. Later 16 size do not have this odd regulater. Were you looking at same, but different age? Serial number? Gruen made lever set pendant wind 16 size before 1880. Serial 47xx. First to do so?
 

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I live within walking distance of the old Columbus Watch Company's site. It is now in the middle of downtown Columbus (i.e. nothing remains).

There is a wonderful book, Buckey Horology by James W. Gibbs. Gibbs was once the president of the NAWCC and wrote the book in 1971. It includes a 1940 letter written 5 years before his death by Frederick Gruen giving details on the history of his father's adventures with the Columbus Watch Company and later the Gruen Watchmakers Guild.

Columbus was done in by one of the periodic bank/credit panics that pervaded capitalistic systems before Keynes show how stimulus by governments can control them. But from its failure grew Gruen.

I have a few myself. My watchmaker hates working on pocket watches so I'm saving getting them all working for my coming retirement -- gads I'll be busy after I retire!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sure enough. Notice the South Bend from The company that acquired Columbus after 1903. I am acquainted with a Studebaker whose ancestors financed South Bend. I bought a Studebaker S.B. model for him.
 

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very impressive collection eeb:-!thanks for sharing
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
It was ebay item 190445561427 now ended. You can find it searching ebay with that number.
As you write, the same thing. 96k compared to 97k. I think is relatively rare. Bid value not far off. I paid $50+ more for the silver cased one. Cheap for a rare Columbus, but I assume you noticed the ebay one regulator missing parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The last 3 for me were.. The mostly older guys are generally not greedy and are careful to have good condition with information integrity.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sure enough. Notice the South Bend from The company that acquired Columbus after 1903. I am acquainted with a Studebaker whose ancestors financed South Bend. I bought a Studebaker S.B. model for him.[/QUOTE

Reminded I have South Bend 429 fine example. Now surprised to see it has a regulator very like on the old Columbus 16 size.
 

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Here are a few photos courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the auditors page. There is a small remnant of the original factory left.

I also live pretty close to the site, and have had the best of intentions of taking additional photo, but...

I have not had the chance to acquire a CWC watch yet, but I am on the look out.
 

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Thanks. I've seen these and am pretty sure the first is a drawing created by the marketing department. The factory appears not to have never been quite that ornate. This was the final site of the company's plants, at the south east corner of Thurman and City Park is what is now an upscale vintage neighborhood of Columbus. There were 2 earlier plants.

This is what Fredrick Gruen said about the plants:

"My father started this business in Columbus at the corner of Broad and High, where the Deshler Hotel stands at the present time."

[NW corner of Broad and High as in this picture:

This hotel was torn down in 1970. It was for most of my life the Deshler-Hilton. It was at the very center of downtown Columbus, catty-corner from the Ohio State House - which is a beautiful Doric Greek styled structure built in the middle 1800s at about the time of the US Civil War.

Here is an image of the original building:
- eeeb]

"This building had the Deshler Bank at the corner. It was built with a sub-basement, in other words, the first floor, where the bank was located, was about 8 to 10 feet above the sidewalk and you had to go down about 5 steps from the sidewalk to the place below the bank where father started the business. After several years he moved to a place on the corner of Gay and High, occupying part of two of the upper floors." [This building too is demolished. - eeeb]

"The business developed very successfully and W.G. Deshler of the Deshler bank took note and he and other gentlemen encouraged my father to go into manufacturing over here. [Prior to this, I believe Gruen had imported movements from Switzerland for their watches. - eeeb] It took almost two years until he got into production, for most of the machines had to be made specially. While the factory building at the southend was being built [this is the pictured 3 story building - eeeb], these machines were being made in a temporary machine shop in a building that was formerly a paint factory."

This last sentence is a critical point. One of the strengths of Gruen's efforts was a higher use of modern machines to build watches.
 

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Thanks eeeb, that is great info. I will try and stay on topic, but I can get drawn into the weeds of Columbus history very easily (for example City Park is labelled "New St." in the first picture). :)

I did some digging into the fire insurance maps as well, and came up with three different CWC representations. These three are from 1887, 1891, and 1901. There appears to have been some expansion over the years, with the largest coming between 1887 and 1891. As a further aside, I did crop these down just to show the factory. In the original pictures you can see how the city expanded around the factory and the years went by. There were primarily residences in the general vicinity.

For those unfamiliar with fire insurance maps, most cities and larger towns had maps drawn that showed properties, what they were used for (e.g. single family home, multifamily, facotry, etc.) and what materials made of the construction (e.g brick, frame, slate roof, etc.). The Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. is probably the most well known.

I am not sure how these will transfer, but it seems you can magnify them without too much loss of resolution.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I very much appreciate the old city info about Columbus. I was very well treated there as a nonresident student at OSU. 1955-7. Really liked the people. Not so much the climate. Was given opportunity there I could not get elsewhere. Contracted long time with fine industrial electrical business there as sole rocky mt. region rep. Maybe the lousy weather incites better attention and doing fine work. Favored OSU over U. Colo. at that time for engineering. I think Ohio and Ill. people and environmental conditions were good places for watch makers.
 

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Way interesting!

(Aside response: "New St" indicates the street had not yet been named... This area of "German Village" (that's the local term for the neighborhood) was being built at about the same time as my neighborhood, which is approximately the same distance eastward from the Capitol. Columbus expanded uniformly outward...)

Note that the biggest allocation of space was to the machinery - biggest building with the most floors. I can now see why Gruen was constantly short of capital as much of his son's letter indicates.

Someday I'll take a Columbus PW into the current business and show them what was built there. That would be fun!
 

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I very much appreciate the old city info about Columbus. I was very well treated there as a nonresident student at OSU. 1955-7. Really liked the people. Not so much the climate. Was given opportunity there I could not get elsewhere. Contracted long time with fine industrial electrical business there as sole rocky mt. region rep. Maybe the lousy weather incites better attention and doing fine work. Favored OSU over U. Colo. at that time for engineering. I think Ohio and Ill. people and environmental conditions were good places for watch makers.
I was in Columbus then! ... living with my parents :-d

OSU has always had decent engineering colleges as the land grant colleges all strived towards 'practical' education.

I suspect that supplied labor for the watch industry. Generally educated labor is necessary but not sufficient for building a new technology based industrial infrastructure. Studies of Silicon Valley showed one of their key advantages was ability to raise capital easily for it's new businesses. Maybe that was true in the Midwest US back then too... It certainly did produce a lot of watch companies.
 

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"The business developed very successfully and W.G. Deshler of the Deshler bank took note and he and other gentlemen encouraged my father to go into manufacturing over here. [Prior to this, I believe Gruen had imported movements from Switzerland for their watches. - eeeb] It took almost two years until he got into production, for most of the machines had to be made specially. While the factory building at the southend was being built [this is the pictured 3 story building - eeeb], these machines were being made in a temporary machine shop in a building that was formerly a paint factory."

This last sentence is a critical point. One of the strengths of Gruen's efforts was a higher use of modern machines to build watches.
I suspect that supplied labor for the watch industry. Generally educated labor is necessary but not sufficient for building a new technology based industrial infrastructure. Studies of Silicon Valley showed one of their key advantages was ability to raise capital easily for it's new businesses. Maybe that was true in the Midwest US back then too... It certainly did produce a lot of watch companies.
Hi -

And here we have the crux of the problem.

As an industrial economist, this is the stuff that drives companies to make decisions about where to make things. While things moved perhaps more slowly back in those days, the competitive pressures of the day were just as much there as they are today, just in different form (and managers/owners back then were more often than not much less prepared than they are today, but also not burdened with a lot of the silliness taught in business schools either).

In competing against the big guys of the day - Elgin, Waltham, etc - Gruen was faced with very high capital costs - modern machinery back then was proportionately more expensive than it is today - and with the need to basically create skilled labor.

Both would be a challenge to anyone of the day. Faced with having to finance large investments and problems with finding an adequate labor supply, Gruen chose to find labor where it was cheaper and as well trainable as it was in the US: Switzerland. Gruen - not now, but later - moved production overseas because there was a solid business case to do so.

Later, of course, Gruen went out of business because they lost control of making their movements (Aigner was acquired by Rolex), but they helped establish the Swiss movement manufacturing industry. Losing control of their movements meant that there was less and less to differentiate Gruen from competitors. That was also a management failure: Gruen lived off their reputation, putting in ebauches - even though there were rather nice ones - was another business decision that started to number the days of the company. Add to that embezzlement and fraud, as well as a fair amount of disinterest of the family owners (always a bad sign, more interested in their dividends than in the survival of the company).

The best days of Gruen were in the 1910s to 1930s. By the 1940s they were no longer high-end manufacturers, just a company with the reputation of being one.

JohnF

PS: Easy availability of capital is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it makes it easy to start a company and, if it is a success, to finance expansion. On the other hand, it may also lead to what we economists call malinvestment, where something is financed that had no chance of succeeding and while sustainable until other people's money runs out, it should have simply not been done. Easy money, especially other people's money, is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. Duh: like we don't know that now...
 

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Just to pick up on a bit of dialect, I note the phrase:

"It was at the very center of downtown Columbus, catty-corner from the Ohio State House"

In England, the phrase is (nowadays) Katie-cornered and is only really used in Sheffield and nearby parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Certainly not in the south. It looks like it has a more widespread usage in the USA than over here.

From The Post Office is Kitty-corner to the Court House

Cater is an English dialect word meaning “to set or move diagonally.”

From a Danish word apparently:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_m7k1Oi-cakC&pg=PR41&lpg=PR41&dq=old+english+dialect+"catty+corner"&source=bl&ots=eufayBMo_r&sig=pKgNes_qTJhWWbjrg8dPtv_rjW4&hl=en&ei=miChTLy7GoWmOOqakKsL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&sqi=2&ved=0CDwQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Ignore me - I just find bits like that interesting.;-)
 
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