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Thread: Did metal watch bracelets first appear before the mid 1940's?

  1. #1
    Craftsman CafeRacer's Avatar
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    Did metal watch bracelets first appear before the mid 1940's?

    All the watches in my collection have metal bracelets, I'm pesonally just not a fan of leather or rubber (easy! we're talking about watch straps here ). My bracelets come in different sizes, styles, clasps etc. A few bracelets taper, most don't. A couple are bi-metal, most aren't.

    A bit of internet research has revealed that Rolex introduced the Jubilee in 1945 and the Oyster bracelet 2 years later. I was slightly suprised by that fact as I thought metal bracelets first appeared in the early 1950's, not as early as 1945.

    Does anyone know if another watch manufacturer brought out metal bracelets before Rolex in 1945? If so who was it and what year?


    Thanks in advance!
    Mark

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeRacer View Post
    Does anyone know if another watch manufacturer brought out metal bracelets before Rolex in 1945? If so who was it and what year?


    Thanks in advance!
    Mark
    Pretty sure some Reversos in the early 40s had metal bracelets.

  3. #3
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Don't know the answer but what an interesting question!

  4. #4
    I think that ladies watches came on bracelets from as far back as the the early 1800s.

    R
    Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Hatred. Hatred breeds Ignorance. Break the chain.

  5. #5
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Not a watch manufacturer's standard fit, but this might be of interest:


  6. #6
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PickleB View Post
    Not a watch manufacturer's standard fit, but this might be of interest:

    Oh, thanks for that. I rather like Bonklip style.

  7. #7
    Grand Master SimonK's Avatar
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    In my Boys' Own Bumper Book of The Cartier Tank, the first models offered on metal bracelets seem to have appeared in the mid 1920s. I'm off to beddy-byes now, but I'll scan some pages and post them tomorrow.

  8. #8
    Craftsman CafeRacer's Avatar
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    Thanks PickleB for the link to Bonklip 1920's bracelets, great stuff!

    So sounds like Thomas Firth of Newcastle patented the design of the Bonklip in 1924. It will be intersting to see what other metal bracelets existed before then ........


    Cheers
    Mark
    Last edited by CafeRacer; 14th January 2015 at 06:55. Reason: adding that Bonklip was patented in '24

  9. #9
    Grand Master SimonK's Avatar
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    Here you go

    Cartier Tank Chinoise from 1927 and 1928



    Cartier Tank from 1934 sold to the Prince of Nepal


  10. #10
    Master Lampoc's Avatar
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    Bulova ad from 1929:


  11. #11
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lampoc View Post
    Bulova ad from 1929:

    What a remarkably modernistic font for "Bulova Ambassador" for 1929!

    The dots and chamfered ends to the characters strongly suggest late 70s or 80s to me.

  12. #12
    Master JackW's Avatar
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    The manufacturer of Fixoflex started making steel bracelets in the late twenties I believe, although the Fixoflex itself first appeared in the early fifties.

  13. #13
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    What a remarkably modernistic font for "Bulova Ambassador" for 1929!

    The dots and chamfered ends to the characters strongly suggest late 70s or 80s to me.
    It says art-deco to me, and would be of its period.
    Last edited by PickleB; 15th January 2015 at 14:15.

  14. #14
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PickleB View Post
    It says art-deco to me, and would be of its period.
    Quite possibly although it screams ST:TMP to me. ;-)

  15. #15
    Master animalone's Avatar
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    I have seen a lot of ladies watches on bracelets from 1910's and 20's
    Earliest gents ones I have seen in person are
    A Wyler from the 1930's on a Bonklip bracelet (sorry don't have exact date on this one)

    And an Omega from 1937 (dated from hallmarks on both)

  16. #16
    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    Try Googling Spiedel. They were delivering watch bracelets wholesale by the early 20's.
    Generally the demand for men's watch bracelets started at the end of WW1

  17. #17
    Master lysanderxiii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    What a remarkably modernistic font for "Bulova Ambassador" for 1929!

    The dots and chamfered ends to the characters strongly suggest late 70s or 80s to me.
    Prices scream 1920s-1930s to me....

  18. #18
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lysanderxiii View Post
    Prices scream 1920s-1930s to me....
    Oh yes, of course. I was not intending to suggest that the advert was from anything other than 1929 (although I can see how it could read as if I was). It's just that the font is, to my eyes, very modernistic indeed for 1929 and I found this remark-worthy. I still find it intriguing.

  19. #19
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    Quite possibly although it screams ST:TMP to me. ;-)
    I had to Google that!

    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    ...I still find it intriguing.
    Have a look at Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928) Fonts. Bulova haven't used his double bar, but the dot is similar to his style.
    Last edited by PickleB; 15th January 2015 at 18:35. Reason: insert 'had' for 'has'!

  20. #20
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PickleB View Post
    I has to Google that!
    :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by PickleB View Post
    Have a look at Rennie Mackintosh (1868 1928) Fonts. Bulova haven't used his double bar, but the dot is similar to his style.
    Ah yes, I can see the similarity. Thanks for that. I can see how one may well have inspired the other.

    I think I can also see why I felt the Bulova font is particularly modernistic (despite, now you point it out, having similarities to Rennie Mackintosh's work): In the Bulova advert, the Ss in "Ambassador" are horizontally stretched, and this is something that is not noticeably present in Mackintosh's fonts. In fact, if anything, Mackintosh's fonts are vertically stretched.

    The horizontally stretched feature (complete with chamfered ends) is to my mind very strongly reminiscent of some late 70s/80s font styles, most memorably the font used for the ST:TMP title.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PickleB View Post
    Not a watch manufacturer's standard fit, but this might be of interest:

    Interesting but the bit about stainless steel being invented in Newcastle is total nonsense. Sheffield is of course the city where stainless steel was "invented" and where Thomas Firth and John Brown had established their steelworks. This lead to many decades where Sheffield stainless steel cutlery dominated world production.

  22. #22
    Craftsman CafeRacer's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the informative replies everyone! So it seems fairly safe to say that metal bracelets were introduced after WW1 and they really took off in the 1920's.

    Cheers!
    Mark

  23. #23
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Although their were older men's watch bracelets available on dress type watches pre war you have to remember that pre WWII most men would carry a pocket watch.

    The Bonklip types especially for aircrew (because you could quickly size from flying jacket to standard uniform) really bought about the idea for metal bracelets on ordinary men's watches and the idea was kept going by Rolex for their sports models in the '50's.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

    My Speedmaster website:

    http://www.freewebs.com/neil271052

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