GREAT GATSBY WATCH?
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Thread: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

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  1. #1
    Member Jimmy Gatz's Avatar
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    GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    Hello Everyone,
    I hope all of you guys at Watchuseek had a great Christmas. I am new to the forum and I love all types of watches and have a very extensive collection that I am working on right now.

    However, what I am the most curious about is the watch worn by the infamous fictional character, Jay Gatsby. In the novel, "The Great Gatsby," the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, mentions on numerous occasions within the book that Jay Gatsby definitely wore a watch, but didn't include any details of what it may have looked like. I am not sure of what his watch could have possibly looked like, but knowing that "The Great Gatsby" takes place in Long Island, New York in 1922, I would assume that the watch he wore was undoubtedly a leather band, given its popularity during this time period. Does anyone know how popular metal bands on men's watches were during this time period?

    From the book itself, it is very difficult to tell what style watch this might have been, what material it might have been made of, color, price, etc. In the book, however, it does state that Gatsby's "bedroom was the simplest of all except where the dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold..." Back in 1920's, some individuals owned "toilet sets" which typically consisted of a mirror, various hair brushes, metal flasks/bottles, and a metal casket/box to store various pieces of jewelry. Given that Jay Gatsby's dresser/toilet set consisted of "pure dull gold," would his watch have been more likely to be made out of the same material/color (gold)? Did "toilet sets" from the 1920's come with matching jewelry, such as gold cuff buttons, time pieces, etc.? Does anyone has any idea of what type of watch he would have worn during this time period?

    I know that in the new Great Gatsby film that will be coming out in May of 2013, Leonardo Dicaprio, who plays Jay Gatsby, wears a very nice, but very modern-looking square, stainless steel band watch with a white dial. When I saw screenshots from the movie with this watch, I thought that it did not reflect the 1920's style/era at all. I have attached the link to the screen shot of this watch, but I do not believe that it would be a watch worn by someone of this time period at all. However, I could be mistaken.

    Does anyone know what time of watch Jay Gatsby would have worn during this time period in 1922, given the typical men's watch style of that era? Any pictures, examples, thoughts, ideas would be much appreciated.

    Thanks guys,
    Jimmy

    Here is the screenshot of the watch from the new Gatsby movie: http://collider.com/wp-content/uploa...-mulligan1.jpg

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    Last edited by Jimmy Gatz; December 31st, 2012 at 11:45.
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  2. #2
    Member Skitalets's Avatar
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    I don't know about the bracelet, but the watch head certainly looks like an art deco style that absolutely would have been popular in the 20s. See this article for example:

    Click Tempus » Blog Archive » Stunning 1920s Moser 18ct gold Art Deco watch: £1,150
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  3. #3
    Member Jimmy Gatz's Avatar
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    Thanks Skitalets,
    That is very true; I guess the band is what made it look somewhat modern to, rather than the watch face itself. Were the square art deco style watches more popular than the typical circular watch case style in the 1920's among wealthier individuals, such as Gatsby?

    Thanks,
    Jimmy

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  5. #4
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    I think for the well-to-d0 of that era, pocket watches were more likely. Wrist watches were still pretty new, popularized by the 'trench watch' which was essentially a small round watch with wire loop lugs. By this time, Hamilton was selling their Cushion, but I'm reasonably sure that long rectangular watches were still some time away. Also, I think you're right that a leather strap would be more correct.

    I think this is someone in Hollywood's idea of what a watch of that era would look like.
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  6. #5
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Gatz View Post
    However, what I am the most curious about is the watch worn by the infamous fictional character, Jay Gatsby.
    Well, he's a fictional character, so the reader is free to imagine him wearing whatever accessories are consistent with his fictional persona (much as one is free to speculate on what Luke Skywalker's favorite breakfast cereal was when he was growing up), but I get what it is you're asking.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald, mentions on numerous occasions within the book that Jay Gatsby definitely wore a watch
    It would have been unusual had he not worn a watch. That's just something well dressed men did (and, for the most part, still do) wear. Oh, exceptions existed - some men, for example, held that it was inappropriate to wear a timepiece to some certain events, the logic being that one shouldn't be focusing on the time when enjoying oneself at such gatherings. And, of course, wearing a watch while engaging in various athletic activities was often ill-advised in the days when watches tended to be less shock resistant than they'd subsequently become. But by and large, men of the middle class and above were simply expected to wear watches. And this rule still has more than a little acceptance, even today.

    I am not sure of what his watch could have possibly looked like, but knowing that "The Great Gatsby" takes place in Long Island, New York in 1922, I would assume that the watch he wore was undoubtedly a leather band, given its popularity during this time period.
    Since "The Great Gatsby" is one of the great "jazz age" novels (in fact, I believe Fitzgerald is credited with having coined the very term "the jazz age"), and I tend to regard tank watches - say, Hamiltons or Elgins - as the quintessential jazz age timepieces, I choose to imagine Gatsby wearing a Hamilton or Elgin tank watch. Quite possibly in gold (particularly after dark).

    The watch would seem undersized to most of us today, given that the trend for some years now has been for ever increasing wristwatch size.

    While pocket watches were by no means uncommon in 1922, I tend to imagine Gatsby - given his age, environment, personality, and so forth - as wearing a wristwatch, save perhaps on highly formal occasions. (For what it's worth, many books, plays, movies, etc., set in the 1920s use the pocket watch/wristwatch divide to symbolize reactionary/reformer or old guard/newcomer. This is even true to a degree in the currently popular tv series, "Downton Abbey." It's conservative, middle-aged Lord Grantham who checks his pocket watch, while indicating his reluctance to embrace wholesale changes to the way things are done on the estate. And his young and forward-thinking heir who wears a watch strapped about his wrist, while explaining that times have changed.)

    Does anyone know how popular metal bands on men's watches were during this time period?
    Generally speaking (yes, exceptions exist - that's why I said "generally," and not "universally"), men wore their wristwatches on leather straps. The metal watch bracelet became fashionable in later years, although it was initially was seen more as something appropriate to a sport watch, than to a dress watch (a perception some people still hold, again not without exception).

    Since I see Gatsby wearing a dress watch, and not a sport watch, there you have it. (The category of "sport watch" was far smaller then then was the category of "dress watch." Much as what we would regard as men's dress shirts and dress shoes were the norm, with sports shirts and athletic footwear representing far less common niches.)

    Indeed, it wasn't until the latter part of the 20th century, after James Bond started doing it in movies, that the idea of a Rolex (a sport watch) on a metal bracelet was regarded by most as something appropriate to wear with a business suit or even a tuxedo. (And I'm still not completely comfortable with the idea.)

    Did "toilet sets" from the 1920's come with matching jewelry, such as gold cuff buttons, time pieces, etc.?
    Not typically, no. With few exceptions, toilet sets included grooming supplies - combs, brushes, mirror, etc. I could easily imagine one including crystal bottles for cologne, a clothes brush, things like that. But not a wristwatch.
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  7. #6
    Member Psychos's Avatar
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    Just wondering if still no one managed to identify this timepiece. I did some research but unfortunately no luck.

  8. #7
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    I have been wondering about this since watching the movie, too. The metal band seemed a bit too modern and the watch much too large for that period. I own a square, art deco Hamilton watch from the 20s, and it is rather small. Who knows, the actors may have tried on jazz age watches and found them to be too small, so they opted for larger modern ones.

    Great post, Michael! :)

    Anyone know what Robert Redford wore in the 1974 version? (Looks like Redford wore a pocket watch.)

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    P.S. I really liked the Baz Luhrmann version.
    Last edited by Illyria; May 19th, 2013 at 15:09.

  9. #8
    Member rpstrimple's Avatar
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    The Longines L5 looks very similar however I don't know if it's the exact one.
    Millennial who doesn't wear an iwatch - ask me anything

  10. #9
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    It would be most likely from the Tiffany store as was gold toilet set , tie clips, cuff links. For fast cars, boats, other activities one of the fine Swiss movement
    chronograph w.w. from Tiffany. There were some nice ones 1920-30. Completed auction photo of typical 1920. Expensive then, scarce so very expensive now.
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  11. #10
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    Re: GREAT GATSBY WATCH?

    It looks like there are no markings on the dial. It is a small-seconds dial with possibly a date display at 6 (or maybe that is a "6"). It was hard to tell in the movie and I couldn't really get any solid looks at the watch. There is one scene in the movie that may tell us the brand of the watch. For a short time one can see the underside of the bracelet and it comes together almost like some of the Frederique Constant watch bracelets. There is also a very quick shot where it looks like there is some font on the underside of the bracelet. If we can freeze that frame and enhance, we may be able to make out the name.

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