Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893
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  1. #1
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    These wristlets or wrist straps for pocket watches turn up occasionally. The general opinion seems to be that they were used in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902, although Mappin & Webb adverts from the WW1 period say that they were used at the battle of Omdurman - 2 September 1898. This one is shown holding a small Borgel pocket watch (I had to get Borgel in somewhere!)



    I have a couple of these straps and inside them is the legend "RD 217622". I recognised this as a reference to a Registered Design, so I went digging. This is what turned up first.



    Aha, clearly on the right track. A bit more digging and this arrived yesterday.



    The middle entry on this page from the Board of Trade register in beautiful copper plate handwriting is RD 217622. Date of registration 2 September 1893. The registrant is Arthur Garstin of Queen Square in the Bloomsbury district of London, a leather goods manufacturer. Queen Square seems to have been quite a posh residential area at the time and this was probably his home address.

    The company of A. Garstin and Co. was established in 1871. Its address in 1922 is given as 159 Adgersgate Street, London, EC1 for Offices and Showrooms with a factory called Leatherville at Hendon. They appear to have been a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of leather goods. During the Great War they made, inter alia, binocular cases for the British Army - one was advertised recently on a popular auction site carrying the legend "Case No.2 Prismatic A. Garstin & Co. Ltd. 1916".

    So what is the significance of 1893? This was after the first Boer War, which was a short affair from December 1880 until 23 March 1881, and isn't what people usually mean when they refer to "The Boer War", but well before the second Boer War beginning in 1899,and before the battle of Omdurman in 1898. There were various South African Wars between 1879 and 1915, and it does appear that it was during these wars that British military men began strapping their watches to their wrists, so this wristlet (as they were referred to at the time) was probably designed in response to that demand.

    I don't claim that this is the first wristlet, or that it was definitely designed for use in South Africa, but it is the earliest confirmed date that I have seen, and I feel that it probably was designed for use by military men in South Africa. Unfortunately Registered Designs don't carry any textual information to enlighten us further. Thanks for reading this far!

    Regards - David

  2. #2
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Superb research David - thanks for that. I wonder if the compass was introduced as a 'military' addition.
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    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    The NATO of it's day. It even uses the loop through which the strap is fed... Nice find
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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    Member HOROLOGIST007's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    David
    as always OUTSTANDING research
    The earliest photograph I own is 1901. Major General Bayden Powell wearing one.
    Then the advert from 1901 in Dennis Harris article. He does mention
    Quote
    at some point towards the end of 19th century an ingenious person designed a leather bracelet with an open-sided pouch to hold a small pocket watch.
    From contemporary adverts it would appear that these were worn by LADIES, whilst 'hunting, shooting and riding'
    References to these bracelets first appeared in the December 1887 issue of Horological Journal.

    UNquote
    So even earlier than yours 'wristlets' were being worn by woman, and that makes sense to me as woman in those days had dresses withOUT pockets - no slacks or jeans, so a wristlet would have been a dream.

    I suspect officers in Boer War 1899-1902 copied the ladies??

    Regards and thanks as always
    adam
    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE.

    "Failure is not an option" - Gene Kranz
    "Owning a vintage watch is great, understanding where it sits in Horology is magnificent"
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    Adam

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    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Quote Originally Posted by HOROLOGIST007 View Post
    David
    as always OUTSTANDING research
    The earliest photograph I own is 1901. Major General Bayden Powell wearing one.
    Then the advert from 1901 in Dennis Harris article. He does mention
    Quote
    at some point towards the end of 19th century an ingenious person designed a leather bracelet with an open-sided pouch to hold a small pocket watch.
    From contemporary adverts it would appear that these were worn by LADIES, whilst 'hunting, shooting and riding'
    References to these bracelets first appeared in the December 1887 issue of Horological Journal.

    UNquote
    So even earlier than yours 'wristlets' were being worn by woman, and that makes sense to me as woman in those days had dresses withOUT pockets - no slacks or jeans, so a wristlet would have been a dream.

    I suspect officers in Boer War 1899-1902 copied the ladies??

    Regards and thanks as always
    adam
    Dear Adam,

    Thank you for pointing that out, I should of course have said that I was specifically talking about wristlets or pocket watch wrist straps like this for use by men.

    Ladies of course had worn watches on their wrist for a very long time; Robert Dudley is said to have given Queen Elizabeth (1533 – 1603) a watch encased in a bracelet, the first known wrist watch in England.

    The possibility of strapping a watch to ones wrist was an obvious thing, and not a great invention but rather a matter of fashion or necessity. Until military men first appreciated the utility of a watch worn on the wrist, they wore pocket watches. The significance of the date of 1893 is that it is an early date for evidence of men starting to wear wrist watches, earlier than the previously reported dates of the Boer War or the 1898 battle of Omdurman. There may well be earlier evidence yet to be discovered.

    Regards - David

    PS to what I wrote above:

    I imagine that the first wristlets or wrist straps for pocket watches were one-off affairs, commissioned by officers who realised that it was a good idea to strap their watch to their wrist and got the local saddle maker or some other leather worker to make a custom strap for them. The registration of RD 217622 in 1893 shows that by then Arthur Garstin had realised that there was sufficient demand for these articles to make it worth while going to the trouble and expense of producing an original design that could be registered, and then actually making them. This indicates to me that the practice had started some time before. Where did Garstin get the idea from? Maybe he had a relative or a customer serving in the army who suggested it to him, or asked him to make one and as a result he realised the potential.
    Last edited by David.Boettcher; May 24th, 2013 at 17:31.
    HOROLOGIST007 and radger like this.

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    Member HOROLOGIST007's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Agreed. Its a fantastic piece.
    I just bought another one, as mine is on display at NAWCC Museum for the exhibition 'Enlisting Time'

    I hope its as old as your.
    Once again David, thanks for sharing your superb research

    Regards
    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE.

    "Failure is not an option" - Gene Kranz
    "Owning a vintage watch is great, understanding where it sits in Horology is magnificent"
    and
    "By Teaching Others, We Teach Ourselves"
    Adam

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    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Excellent post and research on these wristlets David,
    I enjoyed that.

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    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Quote Originally Posted by David.Boettcher View Post
    Where did Garstin get the idea from? Maybe he had a relative or a customer serving in the army who suggested it to him, or asked him to make one and as a result he realised the potential.
    Maybe from Jaqueline Hermes' Father? :P
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  10. #9
    Member HOROLOGIST007's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Maybe from Jaqueline Hermes' Father? :P
    Yes, I was thinking od adding that, but decided to let 'sleeping dogs lay'
    LOL
    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE.

    "Failure is not an option" - Gene Kranz
    "Owning a vintage watch is great, understanding where it sits in Horology is magnificent"
    and
    "By Teaching Others, We Teach Ourselves"
    Adam

  11. #10
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Wristlet: Wrist Strap for Pocket Watch RD 217622 - dated to 1893

    Quote Originally Posted by HOROLOGIST007 View Post
    Yes, I was thinking of adding that, but decided to let 'sleeping dogs lay'
    LOL
    LOL ... the humor her has a different flavor than what you find in other forums...
    redcow likes this.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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