Recently, our blog posts discussed the history of different watch styles here. Which got us thinking – where did the straps come from? When did the different styles emerge? Answers to these questions and more on watch straps begin below.
The first watches were pocket watches and were not worn around the wrist. As such there was no need for a watch strap to hold the watch in place. A chain was used sometimes to link the pocket watch to the user’s clothing. The need for a useful watch strap developed with the iterations of the first men’s wristwatches.
The War Influence
The story of the first leather watch bands originates in the Boer War of South Africa. Though this claim seems to be refuted by other wars of the time, the example will still hold. In a very simplistic explanation, the Boer War was fought between the British Empire and Dutch colonists in the region of South Africa. The region where the battles took place was very warm. Soldiers usually wore their pocket watches in their jackets, but due to the heat there needed to be a new system. This led to the soldiers innovating a way to connect the watches to early leather bands and strap them to their wrists. Watchmakers witnessed this innovative solution and tried it on their own watches, to great success. It is disputed which wars actually brought the idea to wear the watch around one’s wrist, but the influence was nonetheless there.
The Chain Strap
The other major strap to develop around the turn of the 20th century is the metal strap. The first wristwatches were worn on bracelets by women. These proto wristwatches were available as far back as the beginning of the 1800s. By the middle of the 1800s, many watchmakers were experimenting with elegant bracelet watches. Men’s watches, as stated earlier were pocket watches. This was not totally out of necessity, as we have shown the technology did exist to put a watch on their wrists, rather the fashion of the time was to have a watch in the pocket. When fashion changed with the influence of the wars in the second half of the 19th century, the metal straps began to populate alongside the brand new leather straps.
We have watch chains available in our shop as well as our watch kits!