Gruen - before the 1980s "quartz crisis" initiated by Seiko - was a household name throughout the world, in particular within the United States. One of the more emblematic Gruen watches - and one of the most sought after - produced during this time period was the so-called "panda" dial chronograph - like this 1970's example here - which came in gold and stainless steel cases.
Gruen's namesake, Dietrich Gruen, was born in Germany in 1847. At 15, he was sent away from home to become a watchmaker's apprentice, and in 1874 he took out a U.S. patent for a safety pinion for pocket watches, which prevented damage to the watch movement if the watch's mainspring broke. Initially, his company imported and finished watch movements imported from Madretsch, a suburb of Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, which featured Gruen's safety pinion.
The late 20th century changeover from mechanical to quartz movements devastated the watch industry worldwide, which, as noted included Gruen. It's building, which topped the city, was bought by their old supplier, Rolex Manufacture. American watches were once among the highest-quality watches in the world—they timed the railroads, coordinated the movements of armies, and provided the time reference for air and sea navigation, but the original companies are nearly forgotten.
Per Worn&Wound, “As far as affordable vintage goes, these are an interesting option for people who are looking for something simply to wear…and are an affordable way of getting an attractive vintage piece with a Swiss mechanical movement…So, if you happen to be looking for something to scratch that vintage itch that won’t break the bank, add Gruen to your searches.”
This Gruen comes with a leather strap, NATO strap, a springbar tool, and a Pelican travel case.
1970's Gruen Manual-Wind Valjoux 7734 "Panda" Chronograph
DIAL: Classic 1970’s-style panda dial, with one pink and one black subdial, with original hands; date function works as designed. Dial features a 45-minute counter subdial on the right and a continuously running 60-second counter subdial on the left.
CASE: Original 38mm (w/o crown, 40mm with) x 44mm stainless steel case in pre-loved condition. Matching original stainless steel caseback.
CRYSTAL: Original domed acrylic crystal.
BAND: Brown 18mm leather strap, with stainless steel hardware. This Gruen also comes with a high-quality black “seatbelt” NATO strap, also with stainless steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original, dependable Valjoux 7734 mechanical movement, 17 jewels.
CROWN: Signed crown - although it matches the original Gruen crown, it is likely not original.