VintageWatchstraps Logo

Vintage Watchstraps

Straps for Vintage Fixed Wire Lug Trench Watches or Officer's Wristwatches



Leather and Silver or Gold Albert or Fob

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2020 all rights reserved.

The “bow” of a pocket or fob watch is the ring at the top of the “pendant”, the tube that sticks out from the case which carries the crown of a stem wound watch.

A chain or strap is often attached to the bow by a metal clip which, over time, can cause severe wear to the bow to the extent that it has to be replaced. Many pocket watches have had their original bows replaced because of this. If you have a watch with a hallmarked gold or silver case with a bow that is not made of the same material, then the bow is definitely not original; cases were not allowed to be hallmarked unless every part of the case, including the bow, was made of the same fineness of gold or silver.

My “Bow Saver” design puts only leather into contact with the bow, so that no wear takes place and the bow is saved!

In response to a customer request I designed the custom bow saver Albert fobs shown on this page. Although this was created as a short fob strap for a pocket watch carried in the breast pocket of a jacket, the leather strap can be made in any length so that it can replace a traditional long Albert chain.

These fobs can be supplied with sterling silver or 9 carat gold fittings; see the description further down this page for details.

Short leather Alberts or fobs like this have been worn since the nineteenth or early twentieth century when suits began to be worn without a waistcoat, so no waistcoat pocket into which to tuck a watch. They were worn with the watch in the top breast pocket of a jacket with the T-bar through the button hole in the lapel. The standard length of this type of fob is usually shorter than an Albert chain worn with a waistcoat so that it is the right length for a watch carried in a jacket breast pocket. But because mine are custom made, you can have one made to whatever length you want.

Wooster with a leather Albert
Bertie Wooster with a leather Albert: click to enlarge

The image here shows Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster in ‘Jeeves and Wooster’, a British TV comedy. Jeeves, on the left, is wearing his pocket watch in his waistcoat pocket in the traditional style, an Albert chain is visible attached to one of the waistcoat button holes. Bertie Wooster on the right of the picture is also wearing a waistcoat, but he has his pocket watch in the breast pocket of his jacket with a leather strap, a fob or Albert, secured to the button hole in the lapel of the jacket.

Traditional Alberts are metal chains with a T-bar at one end that fits into a waistcoat button hole and a clip at the other end that clips onto the bow of a pocket watch. The Albert was named after Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1819-1861), husband of Britain's Queen Victoria, who in portraits was shown with a conspicuous gold watch chain.

Although an Albert makes it easier to haul a watch out of a pocket, the principal purpose is to prevent the watch from falling to the ground if the owner fumbles when winding it or setting the time, or even when simply checking the time. A pocket watch is a heavy and delicate object which would be damaged if not destroyed by a fall onto a hard surface.

The end of an Albert chain was traditionally fitted with a metal clip to attach it to the bow of a pocket watch. The problem with this is that the clip wears through the bow, and on a gold or silver case this can occur quite rapidly. Many gold and silver pocket watches from the Victorian era have had their bows replaced because of this wear. Sometimes this was done properly with a hallmarked solid gold or silver bow, but often a plated bow has been fitted. This is definitely not original; a watch case with a plated bow would be refused a hallmark at any British assay office.

Back to the top of the page.


"Bow Saver" Design

A leather and sterling silver Albert
A Leather and Sterling Silver "Bow Saver" Albert with T-bar and Clip: click to enlarge.
Leather and sterling silver Albert design sketch
"Bow Saver" Albert Fob Design Sketch

The traditional metal snap clip used to attach an Albert to the bow of a pocket watch inevitable causes wear to the bow. This often gets so bad that the bow has to be replaced. Pocket watches from the nineteenth century often have bows that don't match the rest of the watch, made of base metal or not hallmarked. They weren't made like that, the bow had to be made of the same material as the rest of the case. If it wasn't, none of the case could be hallmarked.

My customer's idea was to avoid this wear to his precious pocket watch by having an Albert fob strap where only leather was in contact with the bow, which would not cause any wear.

After a bit of thought I came up with the ‘Bow Saver’ design shown in the sketch and photograph. The leather strap passes through the bow and is fastened with one of my hand made Type GW buckles. This means that only leather is in contact with the bow, which will not cause wear.

The Type GW buckles and the D-ring with the T-bar are all sterling silver, marked with my sponsor's mark and assayed and hallmarked with traditional British hallmarks by the London Assay Office at Goldsmiths' Hall, where gold and silver have been assayed and hallmarked since 1478.

The photograph shows an additional swivel clip attached to the D-ring with the T-bar. The purpose of this is to let you clip the Albert fob to a piece of clothing such as a belt loop if there is no hand button hole for the T-bar. This is described further down the page at Additional Clip.

There are PayPal buttons at the bottom of this page to allow you to place the order for one of these. Please select one of the "Bow Saver" options from the drop down list.

There are two Bow Saver options, "Bow Saver: T-bar Only" for the standard Bow Saver Design as shown in the sketch, or "Bow Saver: T-bar + Clip" to get a clip on the D-ring alongside the T-bar as shown in the photograph.

Back to the top of the page.


Classic Design

If you want a classic leather Albert fob with a metal snap clip instead of the Bow Saver design, then I can also supply these to order.

There are PayPal buttons at the bottom of this page to allow you to place the order for one of these. Please select one of the "Classic Design" options from the drop down list.

There are two Classic Design options, either "Classic Design: T-bar + One Clip" for the usual configuration with a T-bar at the top and a clip at the bottom, or "Classic Design: T Bar + 2 Clips" to get an extra clip on the D-ring in addition to the T-bar, in addition to the clip at the bottom that clips onto the bow.

The purpose of the extra clip is to let you clip the Albert fob to a piece of clothing such as a belt loop if there is no handy buttonhole for the T-bar. This is described further down the page at Additional Clip.

Back to the top of the page.


Additional Clip

A leather and sterling silver Albert
Leather and Sterling Silver Albert Fob: click to enlarge
A leather and sterling silver Albert
Leather and Sterling Silver Bow Saver Albert with Additional Clip: click to enlarge

I can supply these Alberts with a clip in addition to the T bar. The purpose of this is to let you put the watch in a trouser pocket, or the watch pocket of your "five pocket" jeans, and secure the fob to a belt loop on your trousers. Fitting both a T bar and clip gives greater flexibility on how the Albert can be worn, and is also an interesting talking point. The additional bulk of the clip can make it a little more difficult to thread the T-bar though a small button hole.

The larger picture here shows how one of these fobs looks with the watch in a jacket pocket and the T-bar fastened to the lapel button hole. The jacket pocket is quite deep and in this instance I would have a slightly longer fob so that the weight of the watch is taken by the pocket rather than hanging from the T-bar as shown. This depends on your jacket and watch; to check what length you need, get out the measuring tape!

The smaller picture here shows how one of the more versatile T-bar plus clip can be worn with the watch in the watch pocket of jeans. The clip at the T-bar end is clipped onto a metal keyring style loop that is fixed to a belt loop. This makes it quick to release, but also very secure. I am sure there are other possibilities.

The clips are sterling silver stamped 925, but because of their small size and hollow construction they are not hallmarked. The clip is a little too small to go around a belt loop itself, so a split ring (key ring) is attached to a belt loop for the clip to fasten to. If you buy the extra clip I include a base metal split ring in the price, I can supply a split ring in sterling silver at extra cost. Email me if you want this.

Back to the top of the page.


Fittings in 9 Carat Gold

Leather and 9 carat gold Alberts
Leather and 9 carat gold Bow Saver Alberts: click to enlarge

I can now supply leather Albert fobs with 9 carat gold fittings. The buckles are my Type GW handmade and hallmarked 9 carat gold. The D rings and T-bars are made or sourced specially to order and are not usufally hallmarked, although this can be arranged if required.

Rather unusually, two customers ordered Albert fobs with 9 carat yellow gold fittings at almost exactly the same time so I took the opportunity to photograph the two straps together. The one with T-bar only is in Italian dark chestnut leather, the one with the additional clip is in dark brown leather.

For details of my hand made and hallmarked 9 carat gold buckles go to Sterling silver and gold buckles. The 9 carat gold T-bars are slightly smaller than the silver, 32mm long rather than 37mm. There is nothing I can do about this unfortunately, I buy them in as castings and that's how they come.

Prices: The standard Bow Saver design with hallmarked 9 carat gold fittings is currently (November 2020) £275, plus p&p of £10 in the UK, £15 overseas, using a tracked service. An additional 9 carat gold clip at the T-bar end adds around £75. These prices depend on the current price of gold.

Because of their cost I don't keep 9 carat gold T-bars and clips in stock, they are bought in when an order is placed and I make the D-ring. These items are not usually hallmarked because fixed costs (e.g. secure postage and Goldsmiths' minimum packet charge) make hallmarking a small number of items expensive, but sometimes it is possible.

Back to the top of the page.


Details: Length etc.

The standard length of the leather part when fitted to the watch in the picture measures 200mm or eight inches. The T-bar and D ring adds about 12mm or half an inch to give the overall length. The strap is 12mm wide.

These leather and sterling silver Alberts are custom made to order so you can have them in whatever leather colour and length you want. You can use the "Notes" field of the PayPal button to specify a non standard length.

The Albert in the photograph is made from Italian dark chestnut leather. For details of all the available leather colours go to Leather types and colours.

For details of my hand made sterling silver buckles go to Sterling silver and gold buckles.

Back to the top of the page.


Ordering

Because I don't always have 9 carat gold fittings in stock, please contact me to inquire about the availability of gold fittings.

Leather Bow Saver or Classic Design Albert fobs with sterling silver fittings can be ordered with the buttons below. Alberts with hallmarked sterling silver fittings and T-bar alone cost £60, with T-bar plus additional clip £70, plus postage and packaging (p&p). Please remember that p&p has to be added to the order as a separate item.

All Alberts are specially made to order, which can take up to three weeks depending on holidays etc. You can order by choosing the option and colour you want from the drop down lists and then clicking the “Add to Cart” button, which should open a page in a separate tab. Please don't forget to use the tabs or your browser's “back” button to come back to this page and add packaging and postage to the order.

For details of all the available leather colours go to Leather types and colours.

Please note that PayPal no longer refund the fees on cancelled orders so unfortunately I cannot refund that element if you change your mind and request to cancel an order.

Update 2 December: Stock levels updated today. I have revised the preamble to the blog about Three Bears and 0·935 Silver to discuss tolerance on Swiss assay in more detail. Have you been told that your watch is Not Worth Repairing? Click the link to find out what to do.

Leather Albert / Fob
Sterling Silver Fittings

Remember that these are all specially made to order
Please allow up to three weeks for manufacture.

Configuration
Colour
Notes

Packaging and Postage

UK Post
First Class

£2.00
Standard Airmail
within Europe

£3.95

Please add one lot of p&p to your cart before you checkout. I don't recommend a tracked service for reasons explained here.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to to get in touch via my Contact Me page.


Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2020 all rights reserved. This page updated December 2020. W3CMVS. Back to the top of the page.