Help me find James Dean's watch!
November 17, 2011 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find a working all black Westclox "Wrist Ben" watch or one that looks similar?

I've been doing research and trying to track down the type of watch James Dean wore in "Rebel Without a Cause". I found this thread on a watch forum.
It seems as if the watch is a "Westclox Wrist Ben" with black band and black face. I have tried contacting various local jewelers and antique stores in my city but have had no luck. I've also been searching on ebay, etsy all that for the past few months and the few ones that have been listed have been in really rough condition.

Although I'd really like to find an actual "Wrist Ben", I think it's going to be next to impossible to find one of these that could be repaired to work again. So, my question for you is this: What's the next best thing? I want to find something extremely similar but how do I go about even finding something like this. I haven't ever seen a watch that looks like this. I love the all black and the style of numbers on the face.
Any ideas of similar men's watches? I'm willing to spend up to about $300 or $400.
posted by twoforty5am to Shopping (3 answers total)
Presumably you saw this one listed right underneath your metafilter question on Google. New in box but not running for $100.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2011

Well, as was linked to in a link from that forum, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Tonneau (Tonneau is the shape you're looking for) is similar. A new stainless one is just over your budget, but totally worth it, and you might find one second-hand in that range. There will also be vintage ones with Hamiltons are great watches (my husband has a few, and I love mine) but they don't go for crazy prices on the secondary market unless someone else is completing a collection. René Rondeau is the person to contact for vintage Hamiltons.

If you're willing to compromise a bit, old Gruen or Elgin (or a few other names) gold-filled watches with a "tank" case are in that range regularly. They're good makes, and gold-filled means that a layer of gold is hammered thin and wrapped around the case, the weight equivalent to (if I recall and I'm not going to look it up now) 1/20 the weight of the entire metal. If they have a metal bracelet, you can easily replace it with a strap. The ones from the 30's will be more delicate; the 40's really curvy and bulbous; the 50's more angular; and by the 60's that shape had fallen out of favour. There are some from every era, but searching "vintage mens watch tonneau black face dial" is a good start.
posted by peagood at 6:26 PM on November 17, 2011

TWinbrook8, I saw that listing but the store doesn't seem to be functioning and when I contacted the owner a month or so ago, I didn't get a reply.

Peagood, Thank you so much! You've given me loads of info to work with. I appreciate it!
posted by twoforty5am at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2011

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