NOW AT BULANG AND SONS
The vintage watch collecting community likes to obsess. The originality of the dial, the condition of the case, matching serial numbers to the parts on the watch…it’s all very important. In recent years collectors have also turned their attention to the steel bracelets that accompany their watches, especially with Rolex, Omega, Zenith and Patek Philippe. But where did it all begin? A bracelet was a significant additional expense when buying a watch in the 1940s and 50s, which explains why leather straps were so popular. At Bulang and Sons we have more than a passing interest in these things and today we are excited to launch our new range of steel beads of rice bracelets. Durabale, cool looking and ready to go on your favourite watch; we are always looking to offer style for watch lovers.
Such a great look with Rolex Oyster Case watches like this 34 mm Tudor. But also stunning with your Rolex Datejust and early Rolex Chronograph’s.
There was an undisputed king of metal bracelet manufacturing in Geneva in the early 20th century; Gay Frères. A family run concern, they were the go to bracelet makers for all the big watch brands. Think of all the important wristwatches from the 1940s and 50s and it’s a fair bet that if they were sold with a bracelet, it would have come from the Gay Frères (GF) factory. Rolex, Patek, Omega and Zenith all used GF to design and supply their bracelets. The Oyster bracelet, arguably one of the most iconic aspects of a Rolex, is actually a GF design. And the iconic Zenith ‘Ladder’ bracelet? Also a GF creation. Gay Freères was founded in 1830 and initially were know for making pocket watch chains. As the advent of the wristwatch dawned, GF began to capture the market for metal bracelets. The most famous of their early designs was the utilitarian and military-focused Bonklip, which they produced in very large numbers in the 1930s.
Patek ref.1518 on a original vintage Gay Frères Straight Endlink Beads of Rice bracelet
Beads of Rice
One of the company’s most enduring and aesthetically interesting designs was the so-called beads-of-rice. Some designs are timeless and the beads-of-rice is certainly that! The chainmail-esque design first appeared in the 1940s and, for the time, it was quite a technological feat. Intricate in its construction and supremely comfortable to wear, the beads of rice bracelets became the companion for some of the most important watches from Patek.
Patek ref. 96 on a original vintage Gay Frères Straight Endlink Beads of Rice bracelet
It’s a design that also became an important design for Omega during the 1960s. A key element of these bracelets is the straight end links. The flush fit endlink wasn’t introduced by Rolex until 1954 and so up until that point the bracelets had a tubular link at the end of each bracelet section, through which a spring bar could pass to secure the bracelet into the lug holes of the watch. The straight endlink look can be seen on early Oyster and Jubilee bracelets too, but it is a characteristic of the beads-of-rice and for us one of the coolest elements of the bands.
Salmon dial Longines Calatrava on a original vintage Gay Frères Straight Endlink Beads of Rice bracelet
The Rolex Straight Endlink Oyster Bracelets of the 50th
The beauty of the beads of rice bracelet is its versatility. This look has now become synonymous with classy vintage watches of all types from an elegant Calatrava watch to an early Rolex Oyster. Equally a sports watch looks at home on one. If you are an Instagram user (hang on…of course you all are!) then you can help but notice the beads-of-rice bracelets that often appear on 40s and 50s chronos. A Vetta or Gallet chronograph looks stunning on the beads-of-rice…elegant yet sorty all in one look. Here we’ve paired up our new range of bracelets on a number of our favourite watches to curate a range of cool looks to inspire you.
Our Steel Beads Of Rice Straight Endlink Bracelet you can buy here
The Salmon Dial Longines Calatrava on out Steel Beads of Rice Bracelet you can buy here