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Gruen Dot Matrix

A clone of the Seiko D031 - the world's first wristwatch with a dot matrix display


This Gruen is a rebranded copy/clone of the Seiko D031, the world's first wristwatch with a dot matrix display. It was released around 1980 as another showcase demonstration of Seiko's superior digital quartz technology. It's perhaps not surprising that Gruen would offer a version of this watch since they were known for showcasing the latest technology, having released the world's first wristwatch with a modern field effect LCD display, the Gruen Teletime.

The Seiko D031
(Courtesy of the
Digital Watch Library

The centerpiece of this watch is obviously the unique 41x8 pixel dot matrix display. The watch displays the time using a nice 6 digit 6x8 pixel bitmap font (5x6 pixels for the seconds) and the day of the week and date using three alphanumeric characters. In addition, the designers couldn't help showing off a little bit and incorporated a nifty scrolling feature that displays the date and time in a scrolling marquee like a tiny broadway sign!

The watch has a nice minimalist design with just two buttons and a relatively simple and uncluttered face. Pressing the upper right button once displays the date. After displaying the date for 2 seconds, the date scrolls off to the left and the time scrolls in from the right. How cool is that!? If you press the right button a second time before the 2 seconds are up, then the watch instantly flips back to time mode. If you press the right button and hold it for 2 seconds, then the watch toggles into "marquee mode" where it continuously scrolls the date and time from right to left across the display! Also, for good measure, it's programmed to scroll the date across the display once after each hour.

In addition to its impressive dot matrix technology (for the time), this watch is also impressively small and thin. It's almost as thin as Seiko's thinnest watch at the time, the Seiko F231 and just a bit thicker than the Bulova Phantom from the same time frame. The Gruen version of this watch is even smaller and thinner than the Seiko version!


Case: Good.
The case and case back are in good condition with only a few small scratches on the front. The case appears to have once been a richer gold color but most of the plating on both the case and braclet has worn off leaving the case a light gold sort of "champagne" color, which is attractive enough and perhaps preferable to gold. The right side of the case still has some of the original plating. The case back has moderate scratching and marks from use.

Face / Hands: Good.
The face is overall in good shape. Close inspection shows a few specks around the perimeter from aging.

Crystal: Very good.
The crystal has been repolished to close to the original shine.

Band / Bracelet: Good.
The bracelet appears to have lost its original plating, but in a nice, uniform way, so it's a sort of champagne color rather than the original gold color. The bracelet comfortably fits an 8" wrist.

Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
This watch works perfectly. All function, including the back light are completely operational. Digital quartz accuracy.