We don’t often think about it when we put one on, but the wristwatch is a child of war – the First World War, to be specific. Before WWI a man’s watch was a pocket watch. The few wristwatches that existed were made almost exclusively for women; the pocket watch reigned supreme, and a man would no more have worn a wristwatch than blush and lipstick.
All that changed during the Great War, when the wristwatch – along with such articles of clothing as the trench coat, named for the trenches where it was worn –proved itself on the field of battle. Fumbling for a pocket watch was just as impractical in the first generation of fighter aircraft as it was in the trenches. Therefore, pocket watches were drafted into service as wristwatches, with heavy wire lugs welded to the case for attaching a leather strap. The first generation of wristwatches was worn by civilians that answered the call to arms.
Bell & Ross, which originally made a name for itself with rugged, ultra-legible instrument watches that echoed aviation heritage and were up-to-the-minute pilot’s instruments, now recalls those far away war days with the Vintage WWI Réserve de Marche. A robust 45mm in diameter, the Réserve de Marche has steel horns welded to the pocket watch style case, a robust leather strap, and a starkly beautiful and perfectly readable black and white dial.
The large fluted crown is easy to operate, even with the leather gauntlets early fliers wore, and the only other marking on the dial is the elegantly off-center power reserve indication. With its signature Bell & Ross purity of design, the WWI Réserve de Marche instantly transports you to the early days of powered flight, when knights of the air dueled far above the mud and misery of the trenches below.
The Bell & Ross Vintage WWI Réserve de Marche is available in stainless steel, with a sunburst galvanic black dial, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and a black alligator strap with steel buckle.