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18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14041] Fri, 04 December 2020 19:48 Go to next message
afire is currently offline  afire
Messages: 1215
Registered: May 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Gruen Authority
Model name: Techni-Quadron
Type: Duo-Dial Wristwatch
Period/date: Circa 1930-1935
Gender: Men's

Case Maker: Weber & Cie
Case Material: 18k Gold
Case Serial: 93133
Case Style no: N/A

Caliber: 877
Movement Maker: Aegler, aka Gruen Guild Factory A
Movement Serial: 1853249

Bracelet: Leather Strap, 14k Original Buckle

https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-LPbkLp3/0/2130c20a/O/IMG_0221.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-XSbpZX5/0/b3125880/O/IMG_0218.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-Jkq5jzT/0/77599426/O/IMG_0223.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-S6DdLvT/0/0a41ca0b/O/IMG_0225.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-7bk5sH7/0/1bbcdb44/O/IMG_0228.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-Dj95RsH/0/f26cbb52/O/IMG_0229.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-xxgNSxZ/0/9bd6c67f/O/IMG_0226.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-Z6CS7BJ/0/a1844a6b/O/IMG_0232.jpg

Very clean condition, only a few service markings in the case (in an era of less refined oils where service was recommended annually), so presumably worn for a relative short time and put away. The case does not appear to ever have been buffed or polished, with all lines remaining crisp. I am fairly confident that this would best be characterized as green gold. In natural sunlight it looks quite green. And it clearly lacks that hint of orange seen in most yellow gold. But green to yellow gold is a continuum, so it's hard to ever say with certainty. The champagne dial does not show any signs of refinishing, although given that its kiln-fired enamel print that will remain unchanged after refinishing, it's difficult to ever be certain that an early Gruen dial has never been refinished. Likewise, the movement is very clean. And note the wonderful balance guard option not seen on most Gruens. And I say "wonderful" because it allows a ham-fisted owner such as myself the ability to handle the movement with less risk of accidentally damaging the balance. I believe the buckle to be original. It's the correct style of the time. The previous owner represented it as solid 14k gold. There are no markings, but carefully looking at the edges and holes, I do believe that this is solid gold. Given the watch's apparent low mileage and the ancient crumbling strap that was attached when I received it, I don't have a hard time believing that the buckle (and likely strap) were never replaced. Another clue is the buckle's use of a notched rod through a crimped tube rather than a conventional spring bar, i.e. Gruen's patented "Mounting Attachment Means For Wrist Watches and the Like" (click for patent image).

One aspect I find interesting is the case serial number. I have never encountered a Weber serial number that did not follow a X0XXXX (often X00XXX) pattern, usually crisply stamped on the interior of the case. And this applies not only to Gruen-Weber cases, but also Alpina-Gruens with Weber cases that I've come across. For example:
https://photos.smugmug.com/Watches/Import-105-and-Alpina-Gruen/i-pjTPmtX/0/e55ac205/XL/Caseback-XL.jpg
This 93133 not only doesn't follow the usual Weber numerical pattern, it is engraved, and not stamped, on the back of the case. I don't have any explanation (yet), but it is nonetheless a Weber case (more on that below).

Here's a closer shot of the case hallmarks:
https://photos.smugmug.com/Music/Hotlinking/i-cZTDJQX/0/061e3f03/O/IMG_0200.jpg

The top is the German Sun and Crown mark. However, it does not mean that the watch was actually imported into Germany. Swiss case makers were permitted to use this hallmark themselves rather than having the cases assayed in Germany. So, it only means that the watch was intended for possible export to Germany.

Alpina Gruen needs no explanation.

Next is the head of Helvetia, the Swiss hallmark for 18k gold.

Then there's the "72 18K 0,750" marking. The 18k and 0,750 are self-explanatory, but I had to do some digging to figure out why the number 72 was included. I've run across 14k, 0.585 cases that also had the number 56 stamped on them, so I assumed that there's no way that 72 being similar to, but just below 0.750 and 56 being just below 0.585 could be a coincidence, so it had to be related to fineness. It turns out it's a zolotnik marking. Zolotniks are an Eastern European measure of gold purity originating in Russia. Zolotniks are based on a scale of 96, so 72/96 = 18/24 = 0.750 = 18k. I would assume that the presence of a zolotnik marking as well as the German Sun and Crown hallmark means that they were keeping all options open for exporting to Germany or Eastern Europe.

Then there's the 4/10. It's not something I had seen before, but after some research, I found that it's a reference to a case thickness of 4/10mm. What I was still unclear about is why this mark was included. Forum member DRGM was able to help with that. It turns out that this is a marking championed by Eduard Gübelin, also a customer of Weber & Cie, and while not a Guild member, Gübelin had ties to at least two members (Weber and Favre). DRGM provided me with a translation of this 1935 article from the German language publication Uhrmacherkunst. In it, Gübelin tells a fanciful story of two shops with similar watches, but one is priced significantly higher than the other. His argument is that the customer will have trouble comprehending the differences in movement quality that is responsible for most of the price difference, but if the retailer can demonstrate the quality of the case, that will help to convince the customer of the overall quality of the watch. In his example, the more expensive watch has a 3/10mm thick case. The customer goes back to check out the less expensive watch, sees the thinness of its case, and returns to buy the more expensive watch. Upon appreciating the greater heft of the 3/10mm case, "she had come to the conviction that there must be a difference in the works, even if she did not understand it correctly." So, while I can say that 4/10mm makes for a sturdy, though not an extraordinarily heavy case, evidently it was a thickness worth drawing attention to.

And finally, the number 29 in the Key of Geneva. This is the responsibility mark, or Poinçon de Maître (punch of the master) for Weber & Cie. If the case manufacturer wasn't identified on the case (as it was with most Gruen-Weber precious metal cases), then this mark was required so that any precious metal case could be traced back to its manufacturer. While it's hardly surprising to find an Alpina-Gruen in a Weber case, I'm not sure I would have guessed it absent the responsibilty mark, especially due to the unorthodox serial number. Although in retrospect, I have seen examples of this same case design that were marked Weber, so it does all compute.

In summary, it's a pretty nice watch.
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14043 is a reply to message #14041] Fri, 04 December 2020 20:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
GaryM is currently offline  GaryM
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Registered: May 2013
Location: Seattle
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Cheerleader

Nice! Odd to see the winding train gears blued like that along with other bridge screws. Also looks like the pallet bridge is also blued. Seems after market and not of an Aegler finish.
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14044 is a reply to message #14043] Fri, 04 December 2020 21:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
afire is currently offline  afire
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Gary, that's an odd trick of the light that I didn't notice. None of them are actually blued.
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14045 is a reply to message #14044] Fri, 04 December 2020 21:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
GaryM is currently offline  GaryM
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Wow interesting effect I guess, I'll have to try that sometime. ;-)
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14047 is a reply to message #14045] Sat, 05 December 2020 03:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
thesnark17 is currently offline  thesnark17
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Gruen Master
While I can't speak to whether E. Gübelin is part of the Guild, every now and again I turn up a V-series movement bearing the mark "E. Gübelin Lucerne" (and not marked Gruen at all).

Bottom line: they were close. I've never seen any other private labels for anyone in Europe.
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14048 is a reply to message #14047] Sat, 05 December 2020 03:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
GaryM is currently offline  GaryM
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Cheerleader

We do know that Marc Favre was a major ebauche supplier. The 157 cal was shared between the 2 but don't think they have a direct relationship.

And now thinking about the Gruen guild structure Lavina was considered part of the Alpina Guild along with Favre and Straub, all major ebauche suppliers. I'm sure Gübelin soured movements from both.

[Updated on: Sat, 05 December 2020 03:49]

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Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14049 is a reply to message #14048] Sat, 05 December 2020 13:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
DRGM is currently offline  DRGM
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Registered: January 2020
Gruen Apprentice
A stunning watch - and a wonderful article about the watch!

Just a little addition regarding the mentioned 1935 German article: In said article, E. Gübelin declared the following:

“The Central Association of Swiss Watchmakers [Zentralverband Schweizerischer Uhrmacher = Union Centrale des Horlogers] has introduced a thickness hallmark for this purpose, which indicates the thickness of the gold based on the well-known symbol for "diameter".”

The hallmark is shown in the article, as well as a sketch how to measure the thickness of a case:

/vgforum/index.php?t=getfile&id=7361&private=0

/vgforum/index.php?t=getfile&id=7362&private=0


Well, I doubt, that the Central Association of Swiss Watchmakers really introduced this hallmark as it can’t be found that often. In fact, it is present mostly on watches sold by Gübelin.

Regards

Martin

Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14064 is a reply to message #14048] Sun, 06 December 2020 21:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ephemerald
Messages: 911
Registered: October 2018
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Gruen Master
Also, E. Gübelin was the sole distributor for Gruen watches in Switzerland, at least, in 1911 through 1912.

/vgforum/index.php?t=getfile&id=7378&private=0.
/vgforum/index.php?t=getfile&id=7379&private=0


Matthias
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14069 is a reply to message #14064] Mon, 07 December 2020 01:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Case is currently offline  Case
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That watch is a treasure! Thanks for posting it.

Great education, too. Looks like Gubelin was involved during the whole Guild period. Guessing this watch may have originally retailed through his shop, from the “4/10” stamp. Given Martin’s article and the official National Poinçon register assignment for 29 happening in July 1934, I propose the date range narrows to late 1934-1935.



My two caveats:
1) I'm wrong many times a day --just ask my wife!
2) Always seeking to learn more
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14074 is a reply to message #14069] Mon, 07 December 2020 17:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
afire is currently offline  afire
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Case wrote on Sun, 06 December 2020 19:52
Given Martin’s article and the official National Poinçon register assignment for 29 happening in July 1934, I propose the date range narrows to late 1934-1935.
From this source: https://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/swisspdm.php

"Where the date of Enregistrement is 12.09.1934, which a lot of them are, this refers to the date when the cantonal records were centralized at the Central Bureau for the Control of Precious Metals in Bern. It is not the date at which the mark was first used."

That said, it certainly could date to 1934-1935. I tend to think maybe a bit earlier, if for no other reason than it appears in the Alpina-Gruen catalog that Barney posted, and I believe the watches shown alongside it exhibit styling more consistent with circa 1930.
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14079 is a reply to message #14041] Mon, 07 December 2020 21:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jenneke is currently offline  Jenneke
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afire wrote on Fri, 04 December 2020 20:48

In summary, it's a pretty nice watch.
Understatement of the year. It is a beauty! Looks brand new.

And a good read about the case markings. Thanx.


You can only waste time if you forget to enjoy it - Loesje
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14825 is a reply to message #14074] Tue, 04 May 2021 10:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Barney Green
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Gruen Authority
I have some new information regarding the Poincon de Maitre markings. For the last weeks I worked on the history of these markings and I can now can confirm that the first use of the Key symbol for golden cases from Geneve is of 1930. Still the "29" identifies "Weber & Cie" as the maker of the case.

Gruen, Gruen, Gruen ist alles was ich habe... Gruen, Gruen, Gruen is all I have...(German folklore song)
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14826 is a reply to message #14825] Tue, 04 May 2021 13:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Case is currently offline  Case
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That is an interesting finding, Barney. This watch becomes more of an enigma, since the "4/10" article was 1935. But everything else would say it's earlier, per afire's note.

It looks like Gübelin continued using this mark: I'm seeing "5/10" thickness marks showing up into the late 1940s/1950s.

Here's a thread with several: https://omegaforums.net/threads/gubelin-5-10-mark-what-does- it-mean-answered-within.127310/

Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14827 is a reply to message #14826] Tue, 04 May 2021 17:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Barney Green
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Gruen Authority
Dan, this is also a very good, remark. So the next question is when this "4/10" marking has been first used. Until now I did not find any hint...
The watch can still be from 1935, also my findings do not say that it must have been earlier, just: it may have been earlier...


Gruen, Gruen, Gruen ist alles was ich habe... Gruen, Gruen, Gruen is all I have...(German folklore song)
Re: 18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron [message #14828 is a reply to message #14827] Tue, 04 May 2021 18:01 Go to previous message
Case is currently offline  Case
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It is quite similar to Import 206, although an Alpina model. Basically, the extensions on the 206 to make it "Crown Guard" are the difference. Perhaps the 206 (if other models around it are dated) can provide another reference point.
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