Fascinating World War I Era Wristwatch

March 31st, 2009 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG


I recently had the pleasure of appraising this interesting watch.  The design first charmed and then puzzled me.  At first, the straight lines and geometric shapes convinced me it was pure Art Deco, 1925-1940.  The “Curvex” shape seemed to confirm that— Gruen introduced the classic men’s Curvex style shaped to fit the wrist around 1929.  But then I thought about the elongated “Tank” watches designed during WW1 by Cartier.


When I opened the back, I noticed two things.  First, the movement was large for the amount of dial showing from the face, and was more the size and shape of the lady’s round pendant watches popular around the turn of the century.


Then, I discovered among the many watchman’s repair marks the date of 11/11/21—Note the mark at the 9 o’clock position.  This was the earliest date I could decipher.

Since platinum came into vogue during the Edwardian era, 1901-1910, and the Edwardian style is broadly considered to have spanned 1901-1919, my guess is that the watch most likely was made during World War 1 or perhaps earlier. The relatively large round movement shows the transition in this period from pocket and pendant watches to the wrist watch, when the manufacturers began to make smaller movements shaped for the wrist and the actual watch case style and shape.  A fascinating collector’s piece indeed!

We are sometimes privileged to look thru a window into the past, if we only have eyes to see. Fine estate jewelry always seems to have a lesson for us!

Our Estate Jewelry department is open for hands-on viewing daily, Monday thru Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm, and thru our website, www.mardonjewelers.com.  Feel free to stop by if you have an interesting piece you’d like to show us or have appraised—and remember, we are always interested in purchasing or consigning Estate Jewelry.

These are references on the history of the wristwatch.


Tags: , , ,

Other Posts

Comments are closed.

Member - American Gem Society Member - American Gem Trade Association Polygon - The Jewelers Information Highway Harmony Recycled Precious Metals Firemark Diamonds