Watch's origin: American
Number of jewels: 7
Type of Watch: Wrist
Lug Width: 12mm
Dimension: 43mm by 33mm
Elgin Watch Company was a grand endeavor from the moment it was conceived in 1864. Smoke from the Civil War had not yet cleared and businessmen were already being lured from Massachusetts' Waltham Watch Company to organize and build a monumental watch factory in Elgin, Ill. By 1865 the company was organized and capitalized with half a million dollars, and unimaginable post-war sum. The company's leaders thrust themselves into the industrial revolution and were, in a few short years, running the biggest pocket watch company in the world.
Wristwatches were not in vogue prior to WWI, especially for men. "Wristlet" or wire-lugged watches were rather daring fashion statements – almost experimental – worn by women who leaned away from brooches and pendant timepieces.
It is generally accepted that Girard-Perregaux produced the first timepieces that could be called "wrist watches" in 1880 for the German Imperial Navy. These watches are said to have consisted of watch movement in a ball or cylinder attached to a chain around the wrist, used as timers for artillery and engagements.
Elgin took a rather risky move at the turn of the 20th century: Acting on a breeze of fashion change in Europe, they began to manufacture "wristlets" or wristwatches for the public. These converted pocket watches could be worn on the wrist by a chain or ribbon, allowing the wearer to check the time without fumbling at the breast or in a pocket for a pendant. Women were the first to wear wristwatches in any great numbers: Victorian men thought a watch tied with a ribbon to the wrist was too effeminate. However, after seeing a number of comrades shot as they fumbled with their pocket watches, legend has it that a German Army officer tied his pocket watch to his wrist with a piece of cloth so that he could quickly glance at it. Later, he was said to have had wire lugs soldered to the case and thus the men's wristwatch "craze" was born.
One of the first American manufacturers of the wristlet watch, Elgin helped usher in the "migration" of the timepiece from pocket to wrist with flair and reliability.
For example, this men's WWI era timepiece – circa 1915 - is as fine an early War era timepiece as one could hope to find and is as breathtakingly stylish today as it was a century ago. Strong, exquisite – an historic work of tactile art - what more could one want from a classic timepiece?
Its original metal dial, carefully restored with stylized numerals, stained-glass hands and sub-seconds register is handsome and elegant. And the case! Nickel with split swivel lugs, it is the perfect representation of balanced art– an archetypal wristwatch that is both a conversation starter and conversation stopper.
Open its original back and you'll find a completely and professionally restored, ruby-jeweled Elgin National Watch Company movement, marking time as it did during WWI.
We've fitted this special 43mm by 33mm timepiece with one of our own two piece straps, a precise recreation of what might have been worn with this watch: Fashioned from genuine burgundy cordovan and fitted with a matching buckle, it contributes to a package so authentic it could be worn in a period movie (as some of our watches have). Provide us with a wrist measurement and we'll custom-fit the strap at no additional charge.
It's time to spoil yourself by purchasing a piece of timekeeping and military history. Impress your clients, one-up the boys at the 19th hole and create waves of envy among the co-workers with work of WWI-era wrist art!