Back in the 50s, watch brands adorned their best selling watches with Milanese mesh. However, the medieval chainmail inspired bracelets were quickly forgotten.
Luckily, today, vintage is en vogue. Not convinced? Take a look at Gucci’s latest Prêt-à-Porter collection. Flashback to those loafers we all owned? Vintage is that déja vu moment, a somewhat comforting feeling of nostalgia. And since retro is the name of the game, Milanese mesh is in the spotlight with watchmakers around the globe.
Dusted down and improved, Milanese mesh – often criticized for being uncomfortable to wear – is now more flexible and wearable. Long gone are the days of its dual function as an epilator. Say hello to arm-hair-friendly Milanese mesh!
As with medieval chainmail, the manufacturing process has always been complex. Thin strips of steel or gold are woven together to create a metal fabric and then flattened to achieve either a rigid or flexible wear – the D Dior Satine has an extremely flexible strap; it almost feels like a silk ribbon.
Originally, Milanese goldsmiths had total exclusivity over the fabrication of the metal mesh and kept it for their most privileged clients. Today, it’s a global phenomenon and has been totally industrialised. Milan has only held on to the name, and a few factories. The modern chainmail bracelets are now available in a variety of colours and metals, and are even paired with smart watches, including the infamous Apple Watch.
Milanese mesh adds a retro touch to your wrist and appeals to women, as well as men, as we can see with the success of the IWC Portofino or the Breitling Transocean Chronograph.
D Dior satin, steel diamond & pearly dial, 25mm, quartz movement, 5’800 euros
Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels, white gold watch, 42mm, 38’200 euros
Gucci Diamantissima, steel 27 mm, 770 euros.
Piaget Limelight Gala, 32mm, 18k pink golden case, set with diamonds, 38’400 euros
Les partisanes l’Audacieuse, steel, 160 euros
Swatch Hello Darling 120 euros
Larsson & Jennings, 40 mm, 310 euros
Apple watch, steel, 38mm, 159 euros
IWC portofino watch, steel 4’000 euros.
Breitling Transocean Chronograph GMT, steel 8’590 euros.