In 1949, WOLBROOK watches were born and the fundamentals were defined as below in the 1st advertising of the brand:
Sturdy construction and constant accuracy make Wolbrook watches lifelong companions of their proud wearers. Wolbrook features moderate prices, rugged dependability and quality craftsmanship. All Wolbrook movement are triple checked for accuracy, of rugged construction and fully guaranteed. All parts are standard and interchangeable.
Wolbrook first tool-watch from 1949: Ref 358W2825 - WATERPROOF watch in all stainless-steel case, shockproof, 17 jewel Wolbrook movement, Large sweep second hand, luminous figures and hands. Matching combination mesh expansion band.
The Tool-Watch Worn by Test Pilots and Engineers
In 1955, Wolbrook sister brand DOUGLAS was created and started to offer highly legible – with the iconic green luminescent indices -, all water proof and shock-protected tool-watches for professionals and active men and women.
Douglas advertising from 1956
A UNIQUE TOOL-WATCH FROM THE 1960s
In the 1960s, Wolbrook and sister brand Douglas introduced the Skindiver “Worldtimer”: a solid, water-resistant and highly legible timepiece with luminous markers and hands, a large red sweep second hand, distinctive hour and minute hands, a 24-hour / Military Time scale along with a rotatable bezel with time zones and elapsed time.
This mix of features from a diving watch and a pilot watch makes it the kind of tool-watch “a NASA engineer and test pilot” would personally choose and wear. As many test pilot, astronaut or regular man and woman through the 1960s and the 1970s owning a personal, extra back-up watch on top of your standard issued time instrument was common sense and practice.
Neil Armstrong's 1960s Skindiver tool-watch was recently auctioned in 2019
A Douglas Skindiver “Worldtimer” from the 1960s, owned and worn by Neil Armstrong the legendary test pilot, astronaut and engineer was auctioned in 2019 and its authenticity was confirmed (Source: Heritage Auction).
A test pilot flies countless aircrafts through his career. The fact that his Skindiver accompanied him in a cockpit is highly probable but which one is impossible to know and leaves a part of mystery. This is where history stops and the legend starts…
With advertising in Life, Time, and Esquire magazines, Wolbrook “incredible” watches – as they were called in the headlines - were renowned for their water resistance and were in fact sold in a water-filled container.
Esquire Advertising June and July 1974 - Note: $19.95 USD would be around $350 to $450 in 2021, if you consider factors like currency appreciation, increased costs of labor and raw material.
Then the “Quartz Crisis” in the 1970s happened…
After being asleep for 50 years, Wolbrook and Douglas have been resurrected in 2019 and once again these “incredible” tool-watches are assembled in France.