Watch's origin: American
Number of jewels: 17
Case: Illinois Watch Case Co.
Type of Watch: Wrist
Dimension: 40 mm lug to lug by 32 mm wide
While there is much to lament about World War I, it did begin through harsh necessity and sheer convenience the widespread use of the modern wristwatch as we know it. Prior to World War I, wristwatches or wristlet watches were primarily worn by women as novelties or fashion statements. During the very early 20th century, the idea of a man wearing a watch strapped to his wrist would have been considered odd or effeminate. The late Victorian era and art nouveau periods would have seen women experimenting with tiny pocket watches held to their wrists by ribbons or clumsy leather holders.
During World War I, soldiers found carrying a pocket watch to be increasingly cumbersome – even dangerous during combat. There are several theories about how the practice of wearing a wristwatch "leapt" from the habit of women to men during this period. Some have theorized soldiers began strapping pocket watches to their wrists with handkerchiefs to eliminate the need of fumbling through their uniforms to fish out a pocket watch for the time. Others feel resourceful doughboys observed women wearing wristlet watches and adopted the practice themselves. Still others point to Russian sailors who wore round "marble" watches on bracelets as the birth of the wristlet watch.
What a privilege it is to offer such a fine example of an early 20th century "trench" or "wristlet" timepiece! The watch, manufactured around 1918 by the Illinois watch company, is nothing less than wrist art.
Its handsome minimalist cushion case, fashion from solid sterling silver, features fixed lugs, period glass crystal and an original pumpkin crown. Stained-glass hands are correct and exceedingly handsome, as is its properly restored dial. At 40 mm lug to lug by 32 mm wide; the piece has excellent heft, proper balance, and an eye catching wrist stance.
On the back you will find attractive, period hand-engraving that reads: “Emil F. Kull/Decatur Illinois/U.S.A.," likely indicating the was worn in Europe and carried during the latter part of the first world war.
Snap open this tight fitting back and you will find a triumph of American horological engineering and one of the crowning achievements of Illinois' early wristwatches: a beautiful, high-grade, ruby jeweled mechanism; cleaned, oiled, calibrated and keeping time as it did nearly 100 years ago.
Rounding out the appeal of the piece is an historically accurate two-piece black cordovan strap and matching sterling buckle. Created in-house and custom fitted to each watch, the straps are only available on watches purchased from Strickland vintage watches.
Perhaps you're fascinated by early 20th century history or World War I in particular; perhaps the thought of having everyone admire a vintage timepiece on your wrist excites you. Whatever the reason, if it's a classic look and well-built elegance you crave, you found it!