Vintage Bracelets — Part #2: Maruman “Bike chain” The most bad-ass vintage bracelet ever by Tomas Rosputinsky May 27, 2020 MIN READVintage Bracelets — Part #2: Maruman “Bike chain”
It’s really hard to believe that the extremely expressive Maruman “Bike chain” bracelet from Japan was designed more than 50 years ago.
A couple of days ago, I walked into the kitchen, sat down, and put my hands on the table. I was wearing a T-shirt so that my wife would have a perfect view of my wrist. Yet she was busy doing her stuff, so my question about how I look like made her turn around for a mere five seconds. I pointed her with my eyes to the just landed and freshly installed Maruman bracelet on my wrist. It took her about two more seconds to respond. “You look like you have confidence issues,” she said before turning away to something that she obviously thought was more important than my Maruman bracelet.
A bit violent
That’s why I love my wife so much. She looks at things in a way I can’t. Although she gave the most brutal, expressive, and extreme interpretation, she perfectly framed part of the Maruman bike chain’s character. The bracelet is sturdy, seems thick, indestructible, slightly arrogant, and a bit violent. The kind of a bracelet you would expect on a bodybuilder with a wrist wider than your head. Fitted on a watch that is 43mm in diameter at least. I won’t argue, I see the confidence reference.
Yet what I saw was a timeless sporty look, creative thinking, and clear, precise craftsmanship. I didn’t need to feel it on my wrist to be sure it was comfortable. What completely amazed me was how this perfectly the Maruman’s raw industrial design fitted with any sub-40mm vintage divers watch. It even looks good on some dress watches.
When we created the first draft of 10 best vintage bracelets with @Heuer_loon, I knew the Maruman will be there. And I knew it would be high on the list. Busy center links are created by eight thin rings sorted in two rows. Perfectly aligned in a series of links, they form an arrowhead pattern pointing from both parts to the watch head. If you look closely at the links, you can see that the pins holding them together are not flat. Every single one has regular cuts that make it look like a snake’s skin. I don’t know if there was any technical reason why it was done this way, but it definitely brings the “Bike chain” effect to light.
If you look at it from the side, the links look like a perfectly aligned set of sunglasses. The clasp is surprisingly short and has five positions to shorten or extend the length without removing split pins to set some links aside. There is no branding on the clasp from the outside. Only if you open it wide can you find the Maruman name with a funky logo giving it more charm, character, and value. The E/P.PAT.P inscription just right under the Maruman logo suggests that the “bike chain” was no generic bracelet, but rather a result of a rebellious idea executed with Japanese perfection.
It is the right time to ask, what do we know about Maruman? The brand name sounds as solid and strong as the bracelet itself. It reminds me of the name of a fearless warrior. Some of you swinging golf clubs might know Maruman as one of the world’s high-end golf club brands. Well, surprise, it’s the same company. How come?
Find me a golden Maruman
Maruman began as a company in 1950 but back then they were known as Nippon Gold Metal Industry Co. Limited. At that time, their business had nothing to do with golf clubs and it was purely a watch business. In 1952, they changed their name to Maruman Co. Limited and expanded on its watchmaking techniques. During these early years, Maruman was known for pioneering Japan’s first electric gold plating process which it used for watches and high-end watch wristbands. To find a steel Maruman “Bike-chain” is not easy. Gold-plated versions are even rarer.
Innovation in their DNA
Maruman is one of the most cutting-edge manufacturers in Japan. It was the first company to use Nano Technology in golf equipment and was the company that introduced the first metal wood to Japan. The surprises continue as Maruman created Japan’s first gas lighter. I couldn’t find the precise date, but I assume Maruman probably ceased bracelet production soon after they started with the golf business.
Does the fact that Maruman abandoned the watch business lower the value of their bracelets? Not at all. On top of the actual feeling when wearing a Maruman, its bracelets carry the same sentiment as Porsche and Lamborghini tractors. I don’t need to see Maruman conquering the bracelet market today. Just to know it is at the peak of its game in another industry proves its past relevance and approach to quality standards.
I haven’t had the Maruman “Bike chain” linked to any particular watch.
I studied and admired the Maruman “Bike-chain” bracelet as a design object. It probably comes from the mid-late 1960s, which makes it radically different from anything our eyes are used to from that era. I haven’t had the Maruman “bike chain” linked to any particular watch. Only after it arrived, I started to think about what kind of watch I would fit it to. I didn’t experiment much and made my choice right after I spotted my obscure Yema Navygraf II. I put the Tropic-style strap down and put it on. Just look at them. They were made one for each other.
I don’t have very hairy wrists, but from the limited information available on forums the Vox populi proclaims it to be safe. The bracelet tapers a bit, from 18mm to 16mm at the clasp. I like the end link and how it connects to the bracelet. I noticed people either love it or hate it. Links are surprisingly firm, holding on their position, and most importantly, they are silent. With eight rings connected to each pin, I was afraid of some rattling noises. Bottom line is I think you need one too. There is the last one waiting for you on eBay. So Hurry…
Rewind to May 2015, I happened to be scouting eBay for watches. The bracelet was listed by an Australian seller as NOS for the extremely reasonable Buy It Now price of £20. Over the years I found a few of them in Japan. I liked the bracelet so much that I decided to modify one to be able to accept different sized curved end links. The bracelet has definitely earned its keep by regularly showing up in my Instagram feed paired with Japanese divers, a Jaquet Droz skin diver, and even a Gruen Ocean Chief. It is the most unapologetically in-yer-face vintage bracelet that I own, and have come across to date.
The visual appeal of the Maruman seems to have struck a chord with the guys at Uncle Seiko who told me that were so inspired by its vintage design that they released their own modern iteration aptly named the “Razor Wire bracelet”. Being a strictly vintage guy, I always prefer the original.
Manufacturer:MarumanProduction years:Circa mid to late1960sMaterials:Stainless SteelFinish:Satin with polished inside linksLength:15 cm or 16 with the straight endsEnd-links width:19mm or adjustableClasp width:17mmTappering:18mm to 16mmOther markings:Inside Clasp Maruman Japan Stainless Steel E/P.PAT.PPrice range:£50- £200 for vintageFun Facts:The bracelet was supplied in a Bakelite white box with a clear flip close lid marked „Byron by Maruman" Watch of the Week
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About the author
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred… read more
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