Men’s 1918 Rare Croix de Guerre Bronze Watch

Men’s 1918 Rare Croix de Guerre Bronze Watch

Item: W2452

Watch's origin: Swiss

Number of jewels: 15

Case: Depose

Manufacturer: Misc. Swiss

Type of Watch:  Wrist

Type: Open-Face

Lug Width: 10mm

Dimension: Approximately 37mm across

Composition: Other

Other Attributes:   Military
 Wire Lug

Price: $2,250.00

Loading Updating cart...

While Strickland Vintage Watches has been fortunate to be known for a variety of unusual vintage watch genres, we seem to be inextricably linked to rare military horology. We're delighted for a variety of reasons: The mechanisms of War – those timepieces specifically designed and built for combat – are of the highest order. So were the men and women who used them.

We're particularly fond of WWI era examples, as they constitute the first true generally accepted wrist watch. Prior to The Great War, wristwatches were, well, primarily for women. On July 28, 1914, that changed.

These pieces, with their horsehide straps and sterling buckles, wire lugs and pumpkin crowns, are handsome and rugged and more interesting than anything produced today. And, if you're reading this, you're fortunate enough to have the good taste to know that.

Occasionally, even those of us who thought we'd seen all the early variants of the "wristlet" watch are pleasantly surprised. This stunning work of wrist art is such a surprise.

Known as the "Croix de Guerre" watch, it is one of a few known to exist. In fact, of the two we’ve seen over 30 years, we’ve owned both.

The significance of the Croix de Guerre medal of valor is well established: Soon after the outbreak of World War I, French military officials felt that a new military award had to be created. At that time, the "Citation du jour" consisted of a sheet of paper. Somehow that didn't seem to fit the scope of The Great War.

On Dec. 23, 1914, the French deputy Georges Bonnefous, along with 66 other military deputies, proposed a legislative bill to create the "Croix de la Valeur Militaire" ("Cross of the Military Valor"). On 18 Jan. 1915, the award was sanctioned, but the name of the military award was renamed the Croix de guerre ("Cross of War"). Today is now known as "Croix de Guerre/1914-1918."

Designed by the sculptor, Paul-Albert Bartholome, the ribboned medal is approximately 37mm across featuring four arms and two crossed swords. The center displays the symbolic profile of the French Republic: a young woman wearing a Phrygian Cap.

For reasons lost to history, bronze wristwatches in the shape of the Croix de Guerre were commissioned. Were they awarded to actual medal recipients? Were they worn by those who petitioned to create the award? Or were they worn in support of the war effort?

These were not medals converted to watches; these were watches specifically sculpted and created in the likeness of the medal, right down to 10mm flexible lugs on the back of the frame. Fitted with high-grade Swiss movements and designed to be worn on two-piece leather or horsehide straps, they were – and are – magnificent works of wrist art!

We have taken great pains to preserve the originality of this spectacular work of art; having taken the liberty of fitting the piece with a two-piece black cordovan strap of the type that might have been worn originally with the timepiece.

Please take a few moments to view the images of the piece, as it is both a rare and stunning work of historic wrist art.