Despite the tremendous amount of devastation inflicted upon Europe during the Second World War, the bulk of continent was very much back on its feet after a few years of rebuilding. By the late 1940s, artisans and craftsmen were returning to their trades and resuming their pre-war work, and the following decade saw a tremendous surge in high art and design. Nowhere was this more apparent than in wristwatches, and demand was at an all time high around the world.
This can be attributed, in part, to the hundreds of thousands of GIs returning home with issued timepieces, as World War II was the first war in which most troops had wristwatches instead of pocket watches. The idea of the wristwatch as a fashion item took hold with a tremendous surge in the post-war years, and manufactures in both Switzerland and the United States were back in business.
In the 1950s, wristwatches also became larger than they had ever been before, and as far as collectables go, this is a great era for dress and tool watches. Incredibly, many of the tool watches being made were cased in precious metals and the results were impressive. So impressive in fact that many manufactures today are doing their damnedest to recreate the elegance of a precious metal-clad chronograph with their modern collections. Some of the results aren't half bad. The others? Well, notsomuch.
Regardless, none of the modern interpretations of 50s chronographs come close to the real thing. Take for example this piece: A solid 18k gold case sized at an impressive 38mm with a simply perfect two register dial layout. This particular example also features the Calibre 156D movement, a high grade unit provided by Martel, the movement house also responsible for supplying many of the Universal Geneve Compaxes of the era with their guts.
Oversized steel is on its way out of style in favor of slim precious metal designs in both vintage and modern wristwatch trends, but that doesn't mean you can't find a tool watch to keep up with the times. This beautiful Zenith combines the best elements of function and form, and just looks downright gorgeous on the wrist!