1920s Gruen Newspaper Advertisements

A look at some of the images and source material from the next decade book, The 1920's

A new volume in the Decade Series of Gruen ID books is the next book due to be released.  This time I’m tackling The 1920’s.  It’s actually more like 1912-1929.  Gruen collectors requested a 1920's book and I've tried to fill these requests when writing a new guide. The 1920's has been a consistent request, so The 1920's it is.

As I've worked on it, I noticed a few things I thought worthy of sharing. If I had to put a theme on the Gruen advertising for the decade of the 1920’s, it would be bands. Lots of bands drawn in their entirety and described in more detail than normal. Even a few of the bands are advertised separately, a first in any of the other materials used for the other Decade books. Wadsworth was one manufacturer mentioned among these bands.

The Gruen Wadsworth case connection was advertised quite a lot in the latter part of the 1920’s.  Sometimes ads were worded in a way that the two seemed equal in importance.  One read - “15-jewel Gruen movement - case by Wadsworth

There is much more verbiage in the ads themselves. I’ve tried to capture as much text as possible, but some of it is narrative that is not watch specific. It would be fun to create yet make another book that is a collection of just the ads in their entirety as other brands are advertised along with Gruens, but it’s just not possible.  I will post a few here however.  There’s some mighty strange non-watch stuff in the newspapers, from ads and the stories themselves. Weird is the best adjective for the newspapers of the era.

Another theme you’ll see is the Gruen manliness ad campaign that ran in the 1910’s and 20’s. It seems like all of the watches mention some masculine part of the watch or wearing the watch. “You won’t look like a wuss, really

Local artists were drawing more of the watches than in future decades. This is encouraging as they appear to be drawn using a watch as a model. These are jewelry store advertising folks, not Gruen hired. Chances are likely they used a watch actually in stock and available. If so, these sketches strengthen the validity of artistic depictions being quite accurate in style, dials, hands, etc. I’m already a believer in the artists were usually quite accurate because, well, they match watches in existence.

Some of the ad templates that Gruen provided that included watch images can be spotted readily as the quality of the drawings were clearly done by professional illustrators. One such ad was for Cartouches.  I’ve posted the full sized ad. It was this tag -  “NOTE – Several different dials to choose from in most designs”.  This has certainly been true for the Cartouches seen today. Today a wide variety of dials can be found in the same case so it was clearly a true statement.

Like all three of the current Decade Series books - The 1930’s, The 1940’s, and The 1950’s, these 1920’s ads are crammed full of real model names.  If you want to find something obscure or haven’t been able to find the ID anywhere else, the Decade Series often come through.  

Out of the 1,000’s of ads, often there was only a single ad that had a watch that no other ad with that watch has been seen before nor after. Those are lucky catches. It’s part of what makes it difficult to know how far down do you mine for watches. Not go far enough and you miss that one watch that was never advertised again in all the ads I had examined, even in the same year.

The one picture out of a 1,000 is where the quality of the picture also plays a role. Some images are not in the best of conditions, but if it’s “enough” to do an ID, then it’s in. One example you'll is for a Cartouche Orne I restored. I’ve known it was an Orne, but I didn't know the actual name. The somewhat faint drawing makes it more than apparent that the watch is a match. It's a Cartouche Orne Moderne.

Enjoy the behind the scenes look at the full ads that eventually go into the books and a peek at some of what you’ll see in this next volume of this series.

I'm using the imgur gallery again this time so that you can get full-resolution images right in your browser window . To view an image in full size, click on the gear in the upper right of the viewer. 

For the best experience, click on the gear to choose to view on the imgur site. There you can click on the image and it'll show you a full-res version right away. It's a much better interface than any hosting service I've ever seen. It's how galleries should work.