Museum logo
Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
Object Name Band, Watch
Catalog Number 1998.29.2
Collection Watch
Other Name Wristwatch Band
Date c 1900
Description Brief description: Leather pocket watch convertor, used by both ladies and men (officers) to convert a pocket watch to be worn on the wrist, known also as a "wristlet."
Producer name: Unknown
Production date: Circa 1900
Made in: Europe
Markings: None

Curator's comments:
These leather pocket watch convertors, also known as wristlets, were leather bracelets, designed with an open-sided pouch to hold a pocket watch; they were made in about 30 different sizes ranging from a small ladies' pocket watch to a large men's chronograph pocket watch.

In the earliest advertisements it appears these were worn by ladies while "hunting, shooting and riding." Reference to these bracelets first appeared in the December 1887 issue of the Horological Journal.

We now know they were also worn by officers as early as 1888. By 1901 advertisements extended their use to "Tourists, Bicyclist and Soldiers." Photographic evidence shows that soldiers (mainly officers) wore the leather adaptor during the Boer War (South African War), 1899-1902.

The November 1899 Army and Navy magazine illustrated a group of soldiers, one of whom is wearing a watch in a leather strap (wristlet). The NAWCC archives (a copy on permanent display) shows an 1898 picture of one of Theodore Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" during the Spanish Cuban-American War wearing such a wristlet.

Advertisements by the famous British Jewelers "Mappin & Webb" 1901 offer these leather "wristlets" with a "Campaign" pocket watch. They describe it as follows:

The "Campaign" Watch in a solid leather wristlet. Small compact watch is absolutely Dust and Damp Proof. Oxidized Steel Case. Reliable timekeeper under the roughest condition."

An advertisement in the December 1894 Horological Journal again shows a small wristlet (actually very large) on a nightstand beside a very small lamp; sufficient light to read the hands/dial is obtained by pressing a small button on the watch.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Dennis Harris, Horological Journal, August 1998

Maker Wristlets
Place of Origin Unknown