Saturday, November 21, 2009

Watch this space

Miss Bender needs a break from her strenuous downtime, and is going on vacation --- offline.

Because she knows you need your blog-fix, and because she honors the commitments of Can't Blog No Mo, you can continue to count on daily updates.  Some will be more entertaining than others; none will be more pedestrian than this one is so far.

So let me try to find an interesting topic to leave you with, to justify your clicking over here instead of spending 4 hours on You-Chube, which I know you can.

I read this advertorial in Vanity Fair that tried to claim that Louis Cartier invented the wristwatch, and I found that suspect.  It seemed like the wristwatch was around before WWI, and I had once heard a story that it was invented for the war because everyone was up to their fob-chains in muck.  I had also once heard that it was originally a signal among urban homosexuals in a time when most gentleman still wore their watches in their pockets. 

On closer reading, as I began to circle and underline key lines of page 104, I realized that they (Laura Jacobs) are/is claiming that Cartier invented the "modern" wristwatch, taking it beyond "just a pocket watch on a strap."  Oh, Ok.  The Tank is the watch in question, which is celebrating a 90th anniversary.  The traditional 90th anniversary gift, of course, is life support.

Sources tell a few versions of the original story, but what they share is this timeline:
- wrist watches are for ladies
- wrist watches are for soldiers
- wrist watches are the norm
- people tell time off their phone

An open content article on eZines (Short History of the Wristwatch) recounts a legend of a busy nanny who strapped a watchface on her wrist with a ribbon.  Possible, but household staff of this kind tended to wear the pendant-style timepiece, upside-down so they could read it.  According to Masterpiece Theatre, anyway, where I get all my information about the Victorian/Edwardian area.

Sources agree on the WWI angle, though Qualitytyme credits the Boer War for introducing it earlier, and cites a 1900 catalog testimonial to back them up.

Cartier does deserve some credit for classing up the watch.  Alberto Santos Dumont was a manly-man adventurer who made wearing a Cartier watch desirable, and the mark of a Modern Man.  We are very fortunate his hat didn't have this same effect.  I am unable to find a portrait of him wearing a watch.

 To quote wikipedia: "Alberto Santos Dumont asked his friend Louis Cartier to come up with an alternative that would allow him to keep both hands on the controls while timing his performances during flight. Cartier and his master watchmaker, Edmond Jaeger soon came up with the first prototype for a man's wristwatch called the Santos wristwatch. The Santos first went on sale in 1911, the date of Cartier's first production of wristwatches."

I was unable to verify the "gay signal" story, but if one folows the watches-for-ladies/fashion-for-fops connection, you could see how such a story might start.

Here is a handsome gift item for the man you love -- or the man he loves. 
Also, if you search for a keyword set like "wrist watches gay history," you will be offered this story.

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