Men’s 1906 Waltham Oversized Trench Watch

Men’s 1906 Waltham Oversized Trench Watch

Item: W2472

Watch's origin: American

Number of jewels: 15

Case: Philadelphia Watch Case Co.

Manufacturer: Waltham

Type of Watch:  Wrist

Type: Open-Face

Lug Width: 18mm

Dimension: 40mm wide (not including crown) and 47mm from lug tip to lug tip

Composition: Silveroid

Other Attributes:   Military
 Wire Lug

Price: $2,750.00

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As hard as it is to believe, there was no men's wristwatch market to speak of prior to WWI. Wristwatches, or "wristlets" were primarily ladies’ novelties — small, altered pocket watches worn on ribbon straps around the wrist or hooked to bracelet chains. While men's wristwatches were produced in very limited numbers for certain military applications as early as the turn of the century, men of the day considered watches worn on the wrist to be effeminate and undesirable. World War I changed these views, as intensified warfare made fishing around in one's pocket for a watch a bit too time-consuming. Rumor has it that a German infantry officer took out his pocket watch, tied it to his wrist with a handkerchief, and thus the men’s wristlet was born — not of fashion but of sheer necessity. While America was the leader in the world’s watch production until WWI, some American companies, such as Hamilton and South Bend, didn't see the wisdom in chasing the “foolhardy fad” or a wrist or “wristlet” watch. Waltham, however, did participate in the war effort of WWI, producing some of the first men’s wristwatches to be put into production by a U.S. manufacturer.

This example is intensely appealing on several levels. First of all, it is in as-found condition, save cleaning, oiling, calibration and slight restoration to the hands. While we are known for sympathetic restorations – returning pieces close to their original condition – we chose to leave this watch in an unpolished state. The aura of this timepiece is so strong that it seemed to dictate such an approach.

Also, it contains a relatively early 15 ruby jewel American Waltham Watch Company movement, dating from 1906. While it is uncommon, it is something we have seen a few times over our 30 years of vintage watch curation. And, this rare, original case is quite large (!), substantially bigger than the standard WWI Trench watch model. Lastly it is in what appears to be very good condition for its age and probable use. All of these points contribute to a work of historic horological art that is intensely pleasing aside from being one of the first wristwatches made by an American watch manufacturer, thereby occupying a place in horological history.

Its perfect porcelain dial features unusual Boxcar numerals, micro-regulated sub-seconds register and "stained-glass" hands. These are characteristics indicating it very well could have been worn in military service. Even its reeded crown is crisp and correct.

What an impressive, solid silveroid case! This snap-back, thick wire-lugged (!) model is near mint, with no damage, major dings or detractions. Open the back and you'll find what we believe to be its original 15 ruby-jewel movement; professionally cleaned, oiled and calibrated to be worn daily! The case measures 40mm wide (not including crown) and 47mm from lug tip to lug tip.

We have taken the liberty of fitting this substantive example of historic wrist art with a correctly re-created black cordovan strap and matching buckle that will be custom-fitted to the wearer’s wrist specifications. Also, we are pleased to offer the piece in a custom-fitted khaki twill presentation pouch.