VintageWatchstraps Logo

Vintage Watch Straps

Straps for vintage fixed wire lug trench or officer's wristwatches.



Sterling Silver and Nine Carat Gold Buckles

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2019 all rights reserved.

To increase the authenticity of my replica Great War era watch straps for watches with silver cases I decided to make replicas of original period sterling silver buckles. I make these replicas as close as possible to original buckles made during the Great War of 1914 to 1918. They are handmade by me in an old hay loft in Cheshire, England, and hallmarked at the London Assay Office at Goldsmiths' Hall, exactly as the originals were over one hundred years ago. If you have a trench watch from the Great War with a gold or silver case, these buckles are the perfect finishing touch to one of my replica straps.


Hallmarking at the London Assay Office

Hallmarking in Britain has its origins in an Act of King Edward in the year 1300. Gold and silver wares have been assayed and hallmarked at Goldsmiths' Hall since 1478, when workers were first required to bring their items to the hall to be marked. This where the term "hallmark" originates. I am now a registered goldsmith and silversmith with my own sponsor's mark entered at the London Assay Office, so that I can have my gold and silver buckles authentically hallmarked.

I keep a stock of Type A and Type B designs with sterling silver buckles and 12mm standard length straps that you can order from the Stock and Order List. I also keep in stock sterling silver buckles in some other sizes, and usually some 9 carat gold buckles in 12mm ready to be made into straps.

If you want something that is not listed as a stock item please please refer to the section below about Custom Made Items.

A watch collector bought one of my Type A straps with a sterling silver buckle, and then a few days after receiving it he ordered a second strap; explaining his second purchase he wrote I love the strap so much I ordered a Type B version!

Update 1 November: No items can be posted until 22 November. Orders for stock and custom made items can be placed for dispatch a.s.a.p. Yellow and pink Type GW 9 carat gold 12mm buckles are now in stock.

Please Read This First

If you want to place an order but are not familiar with my designs, please read the page about My Designs of Vintage Watch Straps. That page includes information about my designs, strap thickness, widths and lengths, leathers, and much more.

The stock designs listed on this page have standard length straps and 12mm sterling silver buckles, other widths are available to order. The straps are a length which fit most men's wrists between about 165mm/6½" and 195mm/7½" around. If you don't want to be on the last hole, or need a longer, shorter or wider strap, please refer to the section below about Custom Made Items.

If a strap is marked as "Temporarily out of stock" it will be back in stock in about a week. If PayPal says that an item is out of stock, please let me know. If you want something that is either not a stock item or is out of stock, please don't buy something else and then email me to tell me what you really want. If you want a non-stock strap please refer to the section below about Custom Made Items.

Sterling Silver Buckles

I make hand made sterling silver buckles in 925 ilver, they are then hallmarked by the London Assay Office with a full set of traditional struck English hallmarks - just like their predecessors were around a hundred years ago. They are assayed and hallmarked in the over 700 year old tradition of British hallmarking by the London Assay Office at Goldsmiths' Hall, where British hallmarking began.

Silver has been prized for thousands of years as a precious metal because of its intrinsic beauty and corrosion resistance. When polished it has a bright white appearance unlike any other metal; it makes any steel, including stainless steel and even chrome plate, look dull and grey. If you have a watch with a silver case, a strap with a standard metal buckle doesn't do it full justice, but one of my straps with one of these sterling silver buckles makes the perfect accompaniment to your Great War era trench watch, I am absolutely certain you won't regret it.

I usually have a stock of Type A and Type B designs made up with sterling silver buckles and 12mm straps. Other designs and strap sizes are available, these are made up to order, see Custom Made Items.

Making Buckles

My first attempt at copying an original sterling silver hallmarked 1918 buckle was done by entirely by hand and eye using just jewellers pliers. I immediately realised that it was not easy to make bends in the right places like this, and it was impossible to make nice regular even bends. After some head scratching I designed and made a small machine to make the bends neatly and in the right places.

The production versions are better than my first attempt, although that eventually turned out well enough that I had it hallmarked and I wear it on one of my own watches. The buckles look authentically hand made and "artisan", just like the originals. Just in case you can't tell, in the pictures my replica buckle is the one in the foreground.

Back to the top of the page.


Designs of Buckles

I have made replicas of two original period sterling silver buckles, one from 1918, the other from 1907. My replica buckles are made in exactly the same way, and assayed and hallmarked by the London Assay Office at Goldsmiths' Hall, so that they are as close to original period buckles as is possible.

Type GW: The ‘Great War’ Model


Hallmarked Type GW sterling silver buckles

Hallmarked Type GW gold buckle

The type of buckle shown here, a "centre bar pin buckle" is the most common design found on early wristwatches. It is "self keepered", i.e. it doesn't need a separate keeper for the strap end to be tucked into. I have a number of these, including the one on my Rotherhams English wristwatch, which has London Assay Office hallmarks for 1908 to 1909.

The original buckle that I used as a model for my sterling silver buckles is shown in the background of the picture here. It is hallmarked with London Assay Office hallmarks for 1918/1919. It is a style of buckle that was used throughout the Great War (WW1) and I call it my Great War model, or Type GW buckle for short.

I keep in stock straps with Type GW sterling silver buckles ready to purchase in Type A or Type B designs with 12mm straps.

I usually keep in stock Type GW hallmarked sterling silver buckles in several sizes, see Stock Loose Buckles, and also Type GW in 9 carat gold in 12mm. These are ready to be made into straps to your specifications, e.g. Type B with double slots, Type C, or with straps in different widths than 12mm, or different leather colours.

Leathers are available in colours other than the ones that I keep made up as stock items, so you can have yellow or blue or green etc. if you choose. For details of all the available leather colours go to Leather Types and Colours.

If you want to place an order for a strap to be made up, please see Custom Made Items.

Type RD: Registered Design Model

The second buckle is a slightly more unusual design that fits onto a strap without being stitched into it. This design was associated with British and Swiss registered designs Modèle Déposé No. 9846 which are discussed on my page about trench watches.

NB: I currently have no Type RD buckles in stock, and no plans at the moment to make any more.

Back to the top of the page.


Gold Buckles


Yellow and Rose / Pink Gold: click image to enlarge

I also make Type GW buckles in nine carat gold. These are hallmarked at the London Assay Office in exactly the same way as were the originals over a century ago, with a full set of traditional hallmarks including the sign of a crown for gold instead of the walking lion passant of sterling silver.

The image here shows three yellow gold Type GW buckles and a T-bar fitting for a leather Albert fob. The buckle bottom left is in 9 carat rose or pink gold - it's one colour but seems to be referred to interchangeably as either rose gold or pink gold.

Please bear in mind that computer displays do not reproduce colour with 100% fidelity, so the actual yellow or rose / pink colour can be slightly different from how it appears on screen. In actuality, the buckles that I have made in rose / pink gold match the colour of rose / pink gold watch cases, such as Rolex cases from the 1920s and 1930s, very well indeed.

NB: I usually have a small number of 12mm gold buckles in stock in yellow and rose gold, but straps with gold buckles are not stock items, to place an order refer to Custom Made Items.

Original gold buckles that I have seen are small in both overall size and wire diameter compared to my Type GW design. This was probably done to keep the cost down, but they look wimpy on a man's strap. I prefer my gold buckles to be made in 2.0mm diameter wire as shown here, which increases the cost of the gold. But they look ‘right’ and I always think that if you are going to do something, you might as well do it right.

Prices: One of my designs of strap Type A, B or C with one of my hand made, London hallmarked, 12mm Type GW nine carat gold buckles in standard leather is £135, or in one of the Italian leathers £137, plus postage & packing of £5 in the UK, £10 overseas, using a tracked service.

Because of the high cost of gold bullion compared to silver I do not keep made up straps with gold buckles and in stock, there are too many variations of strap design and leather colour. I usually have 12mm nine carat gold buckles ready to be made into whatever strap design and leather colour you choose.

I do not keep 9 carat gold buckle in sizes other than 12mm in stock because the vast majority of trench watches take 12mm straps.

First Customers' Reactions


Gold buckles on brown Montana leather: click image to enlarge

The first three nine carat gold buckles that I made were in response to a request from a Danish collector. They are shown in the photograph here on straps made up in dark brown Montana grain leather.

When the potential order was discussed I contemplated making the buckles in 1.5mm wire because of the cost of gold, to keep down the cost. However, I said to the customer that I thought that to look right on a man's watch the gold buckles would have to be the same size as my sterling silver buckles, and made of 2.0mm thick gold wire. Happily the customer agreed, and the buckles in the picture are the result. The customer was pleased with the outcome, telling me:

Hi David,

I received the watch straps with the 9 carat buckles Friday afternoon. The buckles look really great, excellent craftsmanship. I love the way the hallmarks are made on the buckles! And yes, this is really the right size of a buckle on a man's watch strap! I am more than pleased !

Thank you ! Best regards Jens


Gold buckle on Type C double slot, Italian brandy leather: click image to enlarge

The second customer for one of my hallmarked gold buckles was a collector in the Netherlands. He wanted a strap with a gold buckle to go with his gold Angora Watch Company wristwatch with hermetic case made by the Borgel company of Geneva.

The resulting strap is shown in the photograph here fitted to the watch. I am happy to say that this customer was also pleased with the outcome, saying:

Hi David!

Do I think the strap is beautiful? I think it is magnificent!!!

Kind Regards, Bart

If you want to order one of my designs of straps with a gold buckle, please email me with the details of what you want and where you live.

Back to the top of the page.


The Hallmarks

My sterling silver and gold buckles are assayed and hallmarked in just the same way as the ones I am copying, at Goldsmiths' Hall in London, where silversmiths have been taking their work to be tested and hallmarked since 1478, which is how the term "hallmark" originated. If you want to know more about the over-700 year old tradition and legal requirements of hallmarking, see my page about Assay and Hallmarking or the The Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office web site.

To send items for hallmarking I had to register my details with the assay office and "enter" a sponsor's punch mark. The picture here shows the hallmarks on one of my buckles. Reading from the left the marks are:

My Hallmarks
The Hallmarks

The form of these hallmarks goes back to 1544 in the reign of King Henry VIII; the one with the six wives. If he were alive today, King Henry (who died 28 January 1547) would recognise the validity of these hallmarks and know that this was legal sterling silver. He wouldn't recognise the additional 925 mark, but that is the only change that has been made to these traditional English hallmarks in over 470 years.

Cleaning and Storing Silver

silver polishing cloth
Town Talk Silver Storage Strips
silver polishing cloth
Town Talk Silver Polishing Cloth

Silver is a noble metal and doesn't oxidise like base metals. It will however pick up sulphur from the atmosphere and form a black layer of silver sulphide on the surface, this is called tarnish.

For cleaning my sterling silver buckles, or anything else made of silver, I find that the polishing cloths made by Town Talk are really good. They are ideal for cleaning my sterling silver buckles, and also for silver watch cases, because there is no messy liquid to get onto the leather strap or into the watch case, just a rub with the dry cloth brings up the silver beautifully clean and with a really good shine.

Town Talk have been making polishing cloths since 1895 so they have really got the hang of it now. Their high quality cotton silver polishing cloths are impregnated with silver cleaner and an anti-tarnish agent. They remove tarnish from silver leaving it really sparkling, and the anti-tarnish agent helps to keep it that way for longer.

I find the 5 x 7 inch (125 x 175 mm) Town Talk polishing cloths are a good size for watches. You can use the "Add to Cart" button underneath the picture to add one of these to your order for just £2.50.

Have you noticed that silver items go dull when they are in storage? Make sure your fine silver items stay shining bright by storing them with a Town Talk Silver Storage Strip. The Strips absorb atmospheric pollutants and help keep your silver shining bright. Store your silver item with a Silver Storage Strips in an enclosed space. The strips need to be replaced from time to time depending on storage conditions. The Silver Storage Strips come in packs of 36. You can use the "Add to Cart" button underneath the picture to add one of these to your order for just £2.50.

Dealer's Notice


Dealer's Notice 2015
click to enlarge

Because I am now officially a "maker and dealer supplying precious metal items" I have to by law display this notice produced by the British Hallmarking Council explaining the approved hallmarks. Click on the thumbnail to get the full size version. If you want a fuller explanation of British hallmarks you will find it on my British hallmarks page, or for British hallmarks applied to imported items on my British import hallmarks page.

Guarantee

Silver has been prized for thousands of years because of its intrinsic beauty. When polished it has a bright white appearance unlike any other metal, it makes any steel, including stainless steel, and even chrome plate look dull and grey. This is due to its electron configuration, which results in it reflecting all electromagnetic radiation of wavelengths longer than 3000 angstroms, which is in the ultraviolet range. All visible light, wavelengths between 4000 and 7000 angstroms, is reflected, resulting in the white colour of the pure metal. Silver does not oxidise, but can form a surface layer of silver sulphide which is black - that's when you need one of my polishing cloths.

My sterling silver buckles are made from solid silver wire so there is no plating to wear through or flake off. The Great War era buckles that I have replicated (which you can see in the pictures) look as good today as they did when they were made around 100 years ago, you can't say the same about any chrome plated buckle or watch case. I can confidently say, in fact I guaranteeGuarantee excludes damage however caused and/or excessive polishing, that my sterling silver buckles will last and look as good in 100 years as when I made them. There are not many things you can say that about. And even if you do manage to wear out the leather strap, you can always send the buckle back to me to be stitched into a new strap.

Back to the top of the page.


Stock Straps


Type A straps with Great War sterling silver buckles
Click image to enlarge

I keep in stock some straps already made up with 12mm hallmarked Type GW Great War model sterling silver buckles. These are ready to order for immediate dispatch using the buttons further down on this page.

NB: Although I keep only the basic Type A and Type B designs in stock ready made, if you want a Type B design with double slots or a Type C there is always a possibility that I can swap a strap with a sterling buckle onto a ready made one of these. Email me to inquire.

Any straps that are ‘Temporarily out of stock’ will be available again soon, usually within about a week. Email me if you want to pre-order one for immediate dispatch as soon as available.

The pictures show some of my Great War sterling silver buckles made up into straps, and some of the available leather colours. If you click on the pictures you should get an enlarged image.

The first picture shows Type A straps in, from the top, black, sepia, military tan, brandy and tan morocco.

The second picture shows Type B straps in, from the top, black, sepia, military tan, chestnut, brandy and tan morocco.


Type B straps with Great War sterling silver buckles
Click image to enlarge

I also have high quality Italian leathers in beautiful rich dark chestnut colour and lighter brandy colours. These are also stock colours.

Please see strapdetails — leather and the pictures page for pictures of the chestnut, dark chestnut and brandy, for pictures of all the available leather colours.

Wrist Size and Strap Length

From experience I know that the standard length of my straps suits most men. However, how a strap fits depends on the shape of your watch, the path of the strap takes through the lugs, and also how tight you like to wear your strap. The path that the strap takes can make a significant difference to its effective length, so please make sure that you read the section about Strap Path — this is important; a significantly different path will need a different length strap.

Standard Strap Lengths

The standard length of the strap fitted to the Type A, B and C designs is 230mm long, excluding the buckle. These straps are designed for trench watches with fixed wire lugs and for wrists that measure between approximately 165mm / 6½" and 190mm / 7½" around. I know this standard size works pretty well for most wrists and trench watches with fixed wire lugs because I have been using it for over a decade now — but please do make sure that you read the section about the Strap Path.

If you have a small wrist, please see Straps for Smaller Wrists.

Measuring Your Wrist

If you are close to either of the limits and you don't want to be on the last hole of a standard length strap, then you can send me the measurement around your wrist and I will get a strap made of the correct length to suit you, see Custom Made Items for how to do this. If you send me a wrist measurement I add 50mm to it to get the length to make the leather part. This works well for trench watches with wire lugs as shown in the section about the Strap Path. If your watch has lugs that are not like this, then you must let me know.

Please keep thing simple and just send me your actual wrist measurement, preferably in millimetres. The best way to take the measurement is to wrap a dressmaker's flexible tape measure around your wrist at the point you wear you watch and take a reading from this, or wrap a piece of string around your wrist and make a mark with a pen where it overlaps and then measure the distance between the two marks with a rule.

Please don't try to second guess me on this and give me a measurement that you think will work better. If you take what you think is a wrist measurement from an existing strap, be aware that this is different from an actual wrist measurement. Please also make sure that you have read the section about the Strap Path.

Back Pad Lengths

If you have a small wrist, then there is the possibility that the ends of one of these back pads will meet or overlap. The back pads are all slightly different lengths. They will fit wrists somewhat smaller than the length of the back pad, because the strap sits on top of your skin and simple geometry means that the path the pad follows is slightly longer than the path your skin follows. This effect is difficult to measure exactly, but I estimate that the it adds about 10mm to the path. For example; my wrist measures 181mm around. When I wear a Type B design with back pad 171mm, the gap between the ends of the back pad is about 20mm, i.e. 10mm more than the difference between what my wrist measurement and the back pad length. So if your wrist measures at least the length of the back pad LESS 10mm as shown in the table you should be OK. However, be aware that this is a guide and if you are close to the limit and want to be sure that the ends of the back pad do not meet, then see Straps for Smaller Wrists.

DesignBack Pad LengthMinimum Wrist Size
Type A164mm154mm
Type B171mm161mm
Type C172mm162mm
Type C XL188mm178mm

Example of How to Use the Table: The minimum wrist size for the Type C design is shown as 162mm. Say you have a 178mm wrist, there will be a gap of approximately ( 178 - 162 ) = 16mm between the ends of a Type C back pad when on your wrist.

If you have a small wrist less than the minimum sizes given in the table, please see Straps for Smaller Wrists.

Back to the top of the page.


Stock Loose Buckles

If you want a size or design of strap that I don't keep in stock, such as a Type C or a two piece strap without back pad, a non-standard length, or a colour that is not kept in stock, that's not a problem because I keep some loose buckles on hand ready to be made up into straps. There is no extra charge for different sized sterling silver buckles. I usually have in stock:

Stock loose buckles can be made up into straps to order in whatever design (Type A, Type B or Type C, etc.) and leather colour you choose. Remember that leathers are also available in colours other than the ones that I keep made up as stock items, so you can have yellow or blue or green etc. if you choose.

If you want to place an order for a strap to be specially made, please refer to the section about Custom Made Items.

Back to the top of the page.


Custom Made Items

Update 1 November: No items can be posted until 22 November. Orders for stock and custom made items can be placed for dispatch a.s.a.p. Yellow and pink Type GW 9 carat gold 12mm buckles are now in stock.

I am always happy to take orders for custom made items provided you understand that there are limits to what I can do, and that they do take extra time to make.

I can't make just anything in leather, I need to have the tooling to cut out the parts. To understand this further see Cutter Limitations.

I can't ask the workshop to drop everything and make just one strap, that would be totally impractical and uneconomic, so I have to tag it on to one of my orders for a batch of straps. You may be lucky and place your order just as I am about to submit a batch order, or you may be unlucky and I have just received a batch, in which case your order will have to go in with the next batch. Because of this I ask you to allow two to three weeks to get a strap made, and then the usual postage time after this.

There is usually no extra charge for a custom made item, they are the same price as the nearest similar stock strap. For example, a Type B with a 14mm strap it is the same price as a stock Type B with a 12mm strap.

If you want to make a custom order, e.g. for a non-stock strap width or length, please email me with:

Once the details are established and I am confident that I can supply what you want I will send you a PayPal invoice to place the order. You don't need a PayPal account to settle this, you can checkout as a ‘guest’..

Please keep thing simple and just send me your actual wrist measurement, preferably in millimetres. The best way to take the measurement is to wrap a dressmaker's flexible tape measure around your wrist at the point you wear you watch and take a reading from this, or wrap a piece of string around your wrist and make a mark with a pen where it overlaps and then measure the distance between the two marks with a rule. Don't try to second guess me on this and give me a measurement that you think will work better. If you take a measurement from an existing strap it produces a different result.

You can get my email address from the Contact Me page.

Back to the top of the page.


Stock and Order List

Stock list updated: Monday 18 November 2019

I keep a stock of Type A and Type B with standard length 12mm straps and GW sterling silver buckles which you can purchase using the PayPal buttons listed below.

Type GW buckles are also usually in stock in 10, 14, 16 and 18mm in sterling silver, and 12mm nine carat gold; these can be made into straps to order.

Back to the top of the page.


Type A Design with Type GW "Great War" Sterling Silver Buckles

Stock list updated: Monday 18 November 2019. If PayPal says an item is unavailable, please let me know.

For current leather colours see Pictures. To order a custom made item see Custom Made Items.

NB: Postage and Packing must be added to your PayPal cart as a separate item.

Update 1 November: No items can be posted until 22 November. Orders for stock and custom made items can be placed for dispatch a.s.a.p. Yellow and pink Type GW 9 carat gold 12mm buckles are now in stock.

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Black
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Dark Brown
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Sepia
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Military Tan
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Chestnut
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Tan Morocco
£50

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Italian leather
brandy
£52

Temporarily
Out Of Stock

Type A 12mm
GW buckle
Italian leather
dark chestnut
£52

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.

Back to the top of the page.


Type B Design with Type GW "Great War" Sterling Silver Buckles

Stock list updated: Monday 18 November 2019. If PayPal says an item is unavailable, please let me know.

For current leather colours see Pictures. To order a custom made item see Custom Made Items.

NB: Postage and Packing must be added to your PayPal cart as a separate item.

Update 1 November: No items can be posted until 22 November. Orders for stock and custom made items can be placed for dispatch a.s.a.p. Yellow and pink Type GW 9 carat gold 12mm buckles are now in stock.

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Black
£50

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Dark Brown
£50

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Sepia
£50

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Chestnut
£50

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Tan Morocco
£50

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Italian leather
brandy
£52

Type B 12mm
GW buckle
Italian Leather
Dark Chestnut
£52

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.

Cleaning and Storing Silver

silver polishing cloth
Town Talk Silver Storage Strips
silver polishing cloth
Town Talk Silver Polishing Cloth

Silver is a noble metal and doesn't oxidise like base metals. It will however pick up sulphur from the atmosphere and form a black layer of silver sulphide on the surface, this is called tarnish.

For cleaning my sterling silver buckles, or anything else made of silver, I find that the polishing cloths made by Town Talk are really good. They are ideal for cleaning my sterling silver buckles, and also for silver watch cases, because there is no messy liquid to get onto the leather strap or into the watch case, just a rub with the dry cloth brings up the silver beautifully clean and with a really good shine.

Town Talk have been making polishing cloths since 1895 so they have really got the hang of it now. Their high quality cotton silver polishing cloths are impregnated with silver cleaner and an anti-tarnish agent. They remove tarnish from silver leaving it really sparkling, and the anti-tarnish agent helps to keep it that way for longer.

I find the 5 x 7 inch (125 x 175 mm) Town Talk polishing cloths are a good size for watches. You can use the "Add to Cart" button underneath the picture to add one of these to your order for just £2.50.

Have you noticed that silver items go dull when they are in storage? Make sure your fine silver items stay shining bright by storing them with a Town Talk Silver Storage Strip. The Strips absorb atmospheric pollutants and help keep your silver shining bright. Store your silver item with a Silver Storage Strips in an enclosed space. The strips need to be replaced from time to time depending on storage conditions. The Silver Storage Strips come in packs of 36. You can use the "Add to Cart" button underneath the picture to add one of these to your order for just £2.50.


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 - 2019 all rights reserved. This page updated November 2019. W3CMVS.