Loop Ends for Ladies' Watches
Britannic Bracelet. Thanks to www.historyworld.co.uk. Click image to enlarge.
Watches sometimes have case lugs that cannot take a leather strap. These are usually ladies watches that were originally fitted with expanding metal bracelets, most likely a Harrop "Britannic" as shown in the advertisement reproduced here.
Edwin Harrop applied for a patent for this invention in 1906, which was granted as patent No. 24396/06 in 1907 The became extremely popular. They were made for many years and turn up regularly today. Harrops must have sold many thousands of them.
In the Rolex Vade Mecum, Hans Wilsdorf says ‘Next came the idea of expanding bracelets, which an important jewellery firm invented and launched in about 1906. This too won the approval of our British clientele ... [and] became increasingly popular throughout the Empire.’ So the early success of Rolex was, in part at least, due to Harrop's Britannic bracelet.
The Britannic bracelet was guaranteed for five years, and tested in public demonstrations over 110,000 cycles. But they don't last forever, especially in everyday use, and many watches from the pre-war period have had their Britannic bracelets replaced. The watch shown in the image was originally fitted with an expanding metal bracelet. The attachment to the case of the bracelet takes the form of lugs soldered to the case, with a pin or bar spanning the small gap between them. The pins passed through the ends of the metal bracelet, securing it to the case.
The very small gap between the lugs becomes a problem when the bracelet wears out. Many of the watches that I see like this have been fitted with expanding bracelets like the one in the image below. It is impossible to fit a leather strap directly to the small pins between the lugs. To attach a leather strap to a watch like this, a "loop end" or "jointed loop" is first attached to the case. The loop end can swing around the pin; in watchcase making terms, a joint is type of hinge like this hence the name jointed loop. I originally thought that the loop ends fitted to my grandmother's watch were original to the case, but I now realise that it is one of the watches that Wilsdorf talks about, originally fitted with a HarropBritannic bracelet.
Cost and Availability
If you want to attach a leather strap to a watch like this, I can manufacture loop ends as shown in the picture. Please note that loop ends are made to order, they are not stock items.
The loop ends in the picture are 9 carat gold to match the gold watch case. I can make loop ends gold or sterling silver. The loop ends can be made to take any width of strap you prefer, from 8mm upwards in 2mm increments.
The cost depends a little on the width and the current price of gold, but as a guide two loop ends in 9 carat gold to take a 12mm strap cost around £60 plus p&p, in sterling silver they would be £35 plus p&p.
I need to have the watch to make and fit the loop ends so factor in Packing & Postage, which is best done by Royal Mail Special Delivery at about £10 each way.
If you want to order a pair of loop ends, please contact me via my Contact Me page.
The images below are before and after shots of the watch in the image above. The leather strap is a ladies two piece 12mm open ended in dark chestnut Italian leather. I can supply straps like this at a cost of around £20.
If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch via my Contact Me page.
Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2022 all rights reserved. This page updated September 2022. W3CMVS. Back to the top of the page.