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Watches & Bracelets: 5 Commandments to Perfect Harmony

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 31 January 2017
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You probably noticed from our texts and photos that we have a passion for watch bracelets.  Nothing out of the ordinary here.  It’s true that we find these small objects fascinating.  Alone, they can enhance or downplay a beautiful case, adding that magical touch, or the complete opposite.

Here are 5 suggestions to avoid the most common mistakes, 5 holy commandments that we believe will make all the difference…

1. “Thou shall respect the nature of thy timepiece”

Rule number 1: Your bracelet must match the nature of your watch, whether it is a Perpetual Calendar from A. Lange & Söhne, a Seiko Diver, or a little Explorer, we’re dealing with completely different worlds here.  Just as one wouldn’t pair white sport socks with elegant John Lobb mocassins, one wouldn’t match a thick and rigid electric blue shark skin bracelet with a fine mechanical Seamaster from the 1960’s.  You see what I mean? So here are some risk-free associations with which you’ll never fail…

Dressy watches: Fine exotic or calfskin leathers that highlight the case.  A significant 4mm drop of the bracelet between the lugs and the buckle and everything will be fine! 

Diving watches: Nato textile, braided perlon, tropic or isofrane rubber.  In harmony with a tool that accompanied lucky divers during deep sea exploration.

Chronographs and military watches: Watches for adventure-seekers who like the effect of timeworn leather, witness of past voyages, Nato bracelets in leather or in nylon, preferably not too new or washed-out to match the nature of the vintage piece…

Bracelets by Joseph Bonnie

2. “Thou shall give due prominence to the case”

We shan’t forget that the function of a bracelet (aside from securing the case to your wrist) is to feature the case.  The important issue of proportions naturally come into play.  The thickness of the bracelet should never be greater than that of the case.

Rolex 6424

“Coltrane Brown” bracelet by Joseph Bonnie

Use the fineness of a given bracelet to show off delicate cases, or dare to flaunt a leather Nato that will give thickness to an ensemble, ultimately lifting the case from your wrist. Result? More prominence to small cases.

3. “Thou shall avoid anachronism and seek historic coherence”

Ideally, we should honor a watch’s age with respect to the bracelet type as well.  Hence, avoid putting a thick and chunky stainless-steel bracelet on a watch from the 1950’s.  We wouldn’t match a folded-link bracelet to a modern-style case, thick and heavy of 15mm for an opening at 43mm.  Obvious right?

A good way to find out which type of original bracelets were on our favorite model is to look for advertisements and catalogues at the time.  Hello Google!

It doesn’t necessarily have to do with finding the exact original bracelet (always useful I’ll grant you), but it gives us good direction nevertheless.

4. “Thou shall ensure harmony with thy style”

Yes, because unfortunately, once on our wrist, a case will become an integral part of an important stylistic ensemble: ourself. The clothes you wear, the colors, the style, also participate in the showcasing of this watch, and its bracelet du jour.

Dare to add a touch of color or exotic leather to a low-key outfit, no need to overplay it with bright yellow pants and a red button-down.  Unless you’re paid to make people laugh, we don’t recommend it.

While a versatile submariner works with swim trunks / polo shirt just as well as a double-breasted suit, a tourbillon Greubel Forsey won’t have the same degree of flexibility and will risk looking more than awkward at the beach with your trunks.

5: “Thou shall not underestimate the finishing”

Once again, an eye for detail will make all the difference.  In the same manner that we would carefully examine the guilloché dial of a vintage piece, of which condition, finishes, and detailing create its value, the same goes for the bracelet that graces our wrists.

The details of scrutiny? The quality of the leather and other materials used, its composition and fineness.  For leather bracelets, we shall pay particular attention to the stitching and to the dye.  The hand stitching is often looser and doesn’t show the unattractive traces of the machine on the soft leather.  Much better.

In terms of edge dye, it should be fine, even, and preferably matte.  A perfect result arises after 2 coats, appropriate drying time in between, and most importantly with the artful hands of a skilled and experienced artisan.

A very well-finished bracelet will enhance any case.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work the other way around: it’d be a honest pity to pair a quality watch with a low-end bracelet.

Now you have it…the keys to successful associations between cases and bracelets.  You’re in control! In mastering these rules, you’ll be able to bend them at your will, according to your mood.  You have a dying urge to match an old tropic with your Speed? Very well, I won’t be the one who condemns this type of abnormal behavior…