The “Precision by Gruen” men’s diver-style watch has many of the right styling cues: a rotating bezel, luminous material on the hands and numbers, and a simple deep blue face. It’s has a Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel back, and a base metal case. Of course, since this watch retails for less than $30, it’s not actually for diving or any other water sport.
Gruen was once a proud name on the American watch-making scene. Today, the “Precision by Gruen” brand is manufactured in China by MZ Berger. I found the “Precision by Gruen” watch brand on sale on a shelf display at Kohl’s department store. The full retail price of the watch was $29.99, but excellent sale prices brought it down to $21. The watches shared shelf space with So character watches and U.S. Polo watches. Overall, based on the price points presented and the appearance of the Precision by Gruen watches, I would say that this line of watches falls below Timex, Armitron, and Casio in terms of price, features, and quality.
However, the “Precision by Gruen” watch I selected is nothing to be ashamed of. It captures the essentials of a diver-style watch in a lightweight package and hits the price point perfectly. The face looks perfect and has all the visual styling cues that are expected in this most conservative of watch genres. The bezel has readable numbers at ten minute intervals interspersed with five minute hash marks. Best of all, the bezel turns and allows the wearer to time activities in a convenient analog way. While you probably can’t dive with this watch and time your oxygen use, it is perfectly adequate for timing break-and-bake cookies or meeting friends in 25 minutes. Unlike some thick multi-function mechanical diver’s watches, this watch fits easily under the cuff of a long sleeve shirt.
Of course, the “Precision by Gruen” watch is still cheap. However, the cost cutting is most obvious in one feature: the band. This watch has the cheapest black nylon and Velcro strap that I’ve ever seen. It feels and looks very flimsy, but surprisingly it works. The watch fits every wrist size. However, I will be swapping the band for an inexpensive black rubber one that looks more at home on a diver style watch. While this watch won’t match the solidity of my “Caravelle by Bulova” watch, “Precision by Gruen” is just fine for banging around on the weekend.
Overall, this watch is a pretty good deal. I like mine and believe that it is a worthy competitor in the world of sub-$30 watches.