Watch's origin: Swiss
Number of jewels: 15
Case: Dennison Watch Case Co.
Manufacturer: Misc. Swiss
Type of Watch: Wrist
Lug Width: 12mm
Dimension: 48mm by 37mm
As hard as it is to believe, there was no men's wristwatch market 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 these pieces 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.
This pristine, black-dialed example of early Swiss wrist art is one of the first wristwatches, or "wristlets," made for WWI trench warfare. Its jet-black dial with gold "Boxcar" numerals is extraordinarily rare, and its solid silver case and movement are in remarkably good condition considering conditions during the "Great War."
This WWI example of the sterling trench watch is quite exceptional, from its MINT, flawless black porcelain dial to its factory "Dennison" marked oversized case. Measuring approximately 48mm by 37mm in diameter (!), this timepiece is a fine example of the "birth" of the modern wristwatch. Using its workhorse small pocket watch movement, early wristlet makers commissioned Dennison along with Depollier to make watch screw back and bezel water-resistant cases with tabs or lugs soldered at either end so that the watch could be tied by a strap to the wrist. These "doughboy wristlets" became essential during WWI, and soon caught on around the world. Despite its rugged application, the watch was a triumph in Arts and Crafts simplicity, with its stained glass hands, fancy dial and matching sub-seconds register.
Still grossly undervalued, these early sterling examples look stunning and are as appealing aesthetically as they are historically. We are proud to offer several variations of this watch and remain committed to being one of the worlds leading dealers in early vintage timepieces.
This piece retains its original polish and a period pigskin strap, probably installed shortly after WWI. If the client so desires, we are happy to re-create a proper two-piece cordovan strap mat fitted with matching buckle. We faithfully render these in our own studio, hand saddle-stitched in the world's finest leather, matched with a rendering of a period buckle. These straps have the look of the original item without the age, which allows one to wear his or her timepiece without worrying about a fragile museum strap. Only available from Strickland Vintage Watches and only on one of our timepieces, these straps are the perfect way to wear an early wire-lug work of wrist art!