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Vintage Watch Straps

Straps for vintage fixed wire lug trench 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 also carries the crown of a stem wound watch. A chain or strap is usually attached to the bow by a metal clip which, over time, causes wear to the bow. Many pocket watches have had their original bow replaced because of this. 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 leather and sterling and silver Albert or fob 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 straps can be made in any length within reason, so that they can also replace a traditional long Albert chain.

I can now supply these fobs with 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.

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"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.

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"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.

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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. I include a base metal split ring in the price, I can supply a split ring in sterling silver at an extra cost of £15. Email me if you want this.

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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 also in hallmarked 9 carat gold. The assay and hallmarking is carried out at the London Assay Office.

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 £250 plus p&p of £5 in the UK, £10 overseas, using a tracked service. An additional 9 carat gold clip adds £60.

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

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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.

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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 only cost £60, with T-bar plus 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. Please don't forget to use your browser's "back" button from the PayPal page to come back to this page and add postage and packing to the cart as well.

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

Update 25 February: A significant update to the quick guide to British hallmarks, including additional sections discussing duty marks and foreign marks.

Leather Albert / Fob
Sterling Silver Fittings

Please remember that these are all specially made to order
Please allow two to three weeks for manufacture.

Configuration
Colour
Notes

Postage and packing / shipping and handling

UK Post
First Class

£1.70
Standard Airmail
within Europe

£3.35

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 contact me via my Contact Me page. Back to the top of the page.

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2020 all rights reserved. This page updated December 2019. W3CMVS.