COCKTAIL BRACELET WATCHES
inDecember 18, 2012 - 9:56am
Today, when you attend those nice Christmas parties and someone asks you the time, do you reach for your cell phone or glance at your wristwatch? For that matter, do you even own or wear a wristwatch any longer? I’m not sure very many people do.
I can remember as a child being told that at one time, it wasn’t really nice or considered appropriate for a woman to wear a watch to a social function. Glancing at your watch was deemed rude, an indication that you might rather be somewhere else. That changed in the 1930’s when the then expert on etiquette, Emily Post, declared it was acceptable for women of good breeding and good taste to wear dressy and beautiful bracelet watches to high end social functions.
Emily’s declaration came in the nick of time. It was Prohibition and many of the glitterati were forced into private, secluded clubs to enjoy their cocktails, while socializing. At such events, fashionable, well-heeled women of the day added to the dazzle of the crystal stemware and chandeliers in the rooms with their jewelry. Glittering diamond-studded bracelet watches graced long black gloved arms. It was all so grand and elegant!
The great jewelry houses of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany and others embraced this style of jewelry. It was an opportunity and a form of art to create genuine masterpieces that cleverly hid a clock face beneath diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The earlier ones were fashioned from platinum. Around 1922, baguette diamonds were introduced and became an instant hit. By the 1940’s, rose gold became the preferred metal. A search on the internet will bring up images of some truly magnificent cocktail bracelet watches by these and other designers and today, at some of the higher end live auctions, I’ve seen those designer pieces go for huge dollars, especially those with high diamond carat weight.
I have always been enchanted by these cocktail/bracelet watches. On a personal level, I love the fact that something as practical as a watch can be so beautifully disguised that only the wearer knows for sure whether it’s a watch or a bracelet. My interest was increased when some years back I purchased the beautiful sapphire and diamond bracelet shown here simply because it was so magnificent. It wasn’t until I put it on that I realized where the large square sapphire sat there had once been a watch-face! The windup mechanism at the side had also been replaced by a small sapphire cabochon. I was enthralled with this brilliant makeover of a watch which had obviously stopped working years prior. I couldn’t help but think that it was worth investing in beautiful cocktail watches like these, even non-working ones, if one had the means and access to gemstones that could replace the now defunct watches as had been done in this case, to create a glorious bracelet to bring many more years of enjoyment to the owner.
Now, of course, we are just so practical. If we do wear a wrist-watch, it’s battery operated, often multi-functioned, sometimes rather masculine. Multi-coloured plastic straps, a different one for each day to match your outfit is “cool”. And of course, watches like these are a dime a dozen: who cares if it drops or stops. Watches are so cheap you can pick them up for song.
But when it comes to dining out, socializing, looking glamorous, or wearing a watch to match your diamond or gemstone necklace or earrings, today’s modern designs just don’t cut it, unless you can afford the rather lovely contemporary designer watches being put out by Boucheron, Piaget, Patek Phillipe or Chopards “happy diamonds”. Of course, you could just wear a regular diamond bracelet, or if you get lucky, perhaps you’ll find a lovely, still working vintage cocktail bracelet watch that you can make over if it stops running.
On the other hand, I suppose, if knowing the time is all that matters, well, then, you could just carry your rather unglamorous cell-phone in your evening bag, couldn’t you.
Written By Viga Boland
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