Tropical 1960s Gruen Ocean Chief Diver W/ Box

As an American watch company based in Ohio, Gruen produced cleverly designed timepieces that housed Swiss-made movements, and the brand was once the largest watch company in the entire United States. In competing with other American watch manufacturers such as Hamilton, Elgin, and Bulova, Gruen's catalog grew to be extensive, diverse, and at some points, quite eccentric. Over the years a number of Gruen pieces have even become quite rare and devotedly sought after, such as this beautiful tropical Ocean Chief Diver.

Originally released in the 1950s the Ocean Chief represents everything great about dive watches from this early sports watch era. From the unique dial configuration and creative "snakehead" hands to the concave or "stadium" bezel and beads of rice bracelet, the Gruen Ocean Chief oozes golden-era design. The Ocean Chief was produced in two variants, a 23 jewel version for the European market, and a 17 jewel movement for the American market. Although the Ocean Chief was primarily produced during the 1950s, a small number were still being produced in the very early 60s, which is where we date this specific model to.  

Stock # GRNOC
Brand Gruen
Style Ocean Chief
Model N/A
Serial N/A
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial Glossy Gilt "Tropical"
Millimeters 39
Strap Gruen "Beads of Rice" Bracelet



The Ocean Chief's case is a robust 39-millimeters, large for the 60s but totally welcome on the modern wrist. The case is in fantastic condition with sharp edges and short, pronounced lugs. It features a black concave bezel, Gruen signed crown, and a screw-down case back. Hard enough as it is to find a good example of the Ocean Chief, to find a great one wearing the Gruen signed "Beads of Rice" bracelet is nothing short of miraculous. 


The dial has aged from its original deep black to a gorgeous tropical gradient. The tobacco brown color pairs perfectly with the aged cream strontium lume in the hands, markers, and bezel triangle. From every angle, this dial, and in fact the whole piece, is a work of art only made better by time. The surface lacquer of the dial does exhibit some light hand drag and spidering that is very commonly seen in gilt dials of the era. 


The watch comes with its original Gruen Precision. The watch is keeping time perfectly, previous service history is unknown.