The Gruen Watch Company, which operated under a number of different names from 1876 until 1958, expertly blended European watchmaking traditions with the innovations and efficiencies of American manufacturing.Founded by Dietrich Gruen (born February 22, 1847 in Osthofen, Hesse; died April 10, 1911 on board the , near Algiers) the business involved nearly the entire Gruen family, from Dietrich’s brothers to his sons and grandsons.Begun during the era of the pocket watch, the Gruen business was quick to adapt to the twentieth century wristwatch, becoming a leader in its production and design.Dietrich Gruen, the son of Johann George and Susanna (née Weigand) Grün, was born in Osthofen, on the Rhine River, a year before the Revolutions of 1848.He may have also studied in Switzerland. Although best known for producing cuckoo clocks, the Black Forest region was also home to highly skilled makers of pocket watches, with whom Gruen studied.In 1866, after studying watchmaking for four years, Dietrich relocated to the United States, where he joined his two older brothers in St. He spent about a year living in the apartment attached to Jacob’s saloon on 7 Street, during which time he worked as a watchmaker for jeweler William Reinholdt.
Efforts to reorganize the company and raise capital had proved insufficient.Bruck. Dietrich’s brothers, Jacob and John, as principal stockholders, were sued by Carl T.Pfaff in a case that dragged on for nearly a decade while the courts dealt with the complexities of applying Ohio law to stockholders residing in Missouri. The New Columbus Watch Company, as it was called, continued operations without Gruen until 1903. Pfaff, the principle creditor involved in the company’s failure, was voted onto the board of the new company in January 1895; his business partner William Reel became the secretary and general manager. Pfaff, a German immigrant, was a prominent businessman in Columbus and a member of the German Independent Protestant Church, the Columbus (men’s choir), the Turner Society, the Odd Fellows, the Free Masons, and the Humboldt Society.He had worked briefly at the Columbus Watch Company, introducing greater organization and efficiency to the jeweling department, before his father quit the company. Fred used his contacts in Glashütte to find a new factory for their movements, avoiding direct competition with the New Columbus Watch Company. While studying in Germany, Fred had become acquainted with Paul Assmann, whose father Julius was the founder of a successful and highly-regarded watch company that Paul had taken over in 1886. Lange & Söhne, a premiere German watchmaking company.In 1894, Fred, Dietrich, and Paul Assmann formed their own company in Glashütte; it was called Grünsche Uhrenfabrikation Grün und Assmann.