By Michelle Graff
A family-provided photo of Belair Time Corp. founder Ernest Grunwald. The World War II veteran started the watch manufacturing company in the 1960s. He died last month at the age of 104.
Marlboro, N.J.—Ernest Grunwald, who started Belair Time Corp. in the 1960s after fleeing Nazi Germany and fighting for the United States in World War II, died Aug. 9.

He was 104.

Born March 28, 1914 in Bielefeld, Germany to Albert and Bertha Grünewald, he attended the University of Bonn but had to abandon his studies in 1933 when Adolf Hitler expelled all Jewish students from the school.

He relocated to Italy, studying Italian and, later, medicine at the University of Pisa before fleeing to Switzerland in 1938 and then immigrating to the U.S. in 1941.

In 1943, the U.S. Army Air Force drafted Grunwald and he fought in the Italian and North African campaigns during World War II.

After the war in 1946, he married Ilse Kalberman and joined her family’s small watch business, J. Kalberman Co.

His flair and language skills—he was fluent in German, Italian, French and English—served him well, and the business flourished. J. Kalberman Co. eventually became the distributor for Enicar and Cyma clocks and watches.

In 1962, Ernest and Ilse opened a watch movement assembly plant in the U.S. Virgin Islands called Belair Time Corp.

A little more than a decade later, the Grunwalds’ son Alan joined the family business, which eventually relocated to Lakewood, New Jersey, where it still is today.

Ernest Grunwald is remembered as having a passion for people and an infectious smile that could light up a room. He was loved by his employees, suppliers and customers alike.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ilse; brother, Fred; and sister, Anneliese.

He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Elaine and Eric Moskowitz of Wooster, Ohio; son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Joan Grunwald of Morganville, New Jersey; and seven grandchildren, David, Rachel, Kara and Daniel Moskowitz, and Jason, Adrienne and Nolan Grunwald.

Donations can be made in Grunwald’s memory to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.