Strap Check: The Ideal Polonaise Mesh For My Vulcain Heritage Cricket
Team Strap or Team Bracelet — which one are you? Well, since we’re picking sides, I’m gonna go with Team Strap! Sure, I love my Sub on its phenomenal Oyster bracelet, and my Campanola’s bracelet is a comfortable runner-up. But most days, I simply can’t resist the supple wrist feel and color of a nice distressed leather or suede strap. The way a well-worn strap wraps perfectly around my wrist and complements a watch’s dial really gets my engine running. Nevertheless, sometimes a leather strap is a terrible choice. And honestly, I make enough of those in my daily life already. Luckily, there is an option that I love just as much — a slinky and well-fashioned mesh bracelet. You’ll likely be familiar with tightly woven Milanese mesh, as well as the loosely woven shark mesh bracelets for dive watches. But have you ever heard of Polonaise mesh?
Well, if you haven’t, you’re certainly not alone. Polonaise mesh is not common in the watch industry at all. I actually stumbled upon it on Instagram about two years ago while searching for strap inspiration for my Vapaus Vorcut. I saw a photo of a Vorcut on Polonaise mesh, and my instant reaction was, “What is that?” Despite having collected watches for over a decade by that point, it was a style of mesh I’d not seen even once. I was intrigued by its unique and complex-looking weave pattern, and thankfully, I was able to find one aftermarket option. I quickly ordered this Staib Polonaise mesh bracelet with every intention of putting it on my Vapaus Vorcut. When it arrived, however, I found that it suited my Vulcain Heritage Cricket far better. Now it’s my go-to choice for that watch, and today, I’ll explain why I enjoy it so much.
The intricate weave of Polonaise mesh
Polonaise mesh (alternatively, Polish mesh) has a distinctive woven pattern that reminds me of braided hair. The metal wire is woven in a diagonal fashion, right over left, left over right, until the bracelet is complete. In a way, it’s very similar to a woven Perlon strap, particularly those in the Atlantic line from German brand Eulit. The obvious difference, however, is that this mesh is made of metal and, in the case of my Staib bracelet, it’s all stainless steel.
I really enjoy how complex the Polonaise weave looks, and the texture of the wire plays a big part in that. Each piece of wire has a sort of channel running through it, making each metal strand appears as if it were two. These channels also act as facets, reflecting the light, and giving the bracelet a seamless, shimmering look from afar. Though I can’t see myself wearing a diamond-pavé watch these days, the Polonaise mesh provides just the right amount of bling. It definitely lends itself to a shinier watch, which is why I paired it with my Vulcain Heritage Cricket.
This 39mm Vulcain is my de facto “dress watch,” and it has a high-polished finish on the bezel and lug hoods. That polished sheen carries onto the alarm pusher and crown, as well as all of the applied indices and the four hands. Only the case and lug sides show any brushed treatment, meaning that at most angles, this Cricket gleams in the sun. The sparkle of the Polonaise mesh matches the case wonderfully, whereas it looked out of place on my Vapaus Vorcut.
The little details that matter
In the end, I decided to put the Vapaus on Milanese mesh, which, although highly polished too, seems less blingy to me. I’m almost certain this is due to the pattern of the weave and the more standard texture of the wire itself. As you can see from this side-by-side photo, the Milanese mesh bracelet has a unidirectional weave. Rows of thinner wire alternate vertically down the bracelet, and the top of each wire is somewhat flat and uniform. Overall, I do think Milanese mesh is more versatile. It looks good on highly polished and brushed watches alike. The Polonaise mesh, I feel, only goes with certain watches. Thankfully, I think my Vulcain fits the bill quite well.
And when it comes to comfort and wearability, this Staib Polonaise mesh bracelet hits the spot on both counts. It wraps around the wrist in a way that links could never do, and it feels very bracelet-like in the most jewelry-esque sense. Whereas leather straps are awful in the humid Osaka summer, the Polonaise mesh is perfect for warmer-weather wearability. Its fully stainless steel construction handles sweat like a champ, and it never gets stinky like a textile strap. Even as my wrist expands and contracts with the seasons, the Polonaise mesh never pulls my arm hair either. That’s more than I can say about a lot of bracelets out there, especially those with a sub-€30 price tag!
An unremarkable but lovable clasp
This Polonaise mesh bracelet has a sliding hook clasp with a flip-lock, as do many Milanese mesh bracelets in this price range. It measures only about a centimeter in length, and it doesn’t protrude far off the wrist at all. In contrast to the highly polished, gleaming look of the mesh, the clasp has a completely brushed finish. While the difference in finishing seems jarring at first, I’m actually glad that the clasp is brushed. I find that brushed clasps hide scratches pretty well, whereas polished ones scratch if you so much as breathe on them wrong.
Though the build quality of this clasp is not all that luxurious, its infinite adjustability is a definite plus. The clamping side of the clasp can stop anywhere on the bracelet. That makes getting the perfect fit just a matter of patience. Given the will and the time to fiddle with it properly, you can adjust this bracelet to literally any wrist size.
International mesh of mystery
At this point in the article, you may be wondering why I haven’t provided a novel on the history of Polonaise mesh. Well, that’s because, as hard as I’ve tried, I can’t seem to find much information on the origin of this weave. I assume, since Polonaise means “Polish” in French, it may have originated in Poland or at the hands of a Pole in France. If we have any Polish or French readers who know, please chime in with any insight in the comments section!
Within the watch industry at large, it also seems rather rare. I’ve only been able to find a few other non-Staib examples. Jacoby-Bender (aka Forstner) apparently used to make gold-filled Polonaise mesh bracelets, such as the vintage one on this KO 2627 Seamaster. Seiko also used Polonaise mesh on a Credor ladies’ watch, the reference 6730-5330 seen here. These days, the only company I know of that is actively using Polonaise mesh is Audemars Piguet. The brand’s 39.5mm Millenary watches feature Polonaise mesh bracelets in white and pink gold. Personally, I think the Millenary collection is extremely underrated. I’d rock either of these models if only I had the cash!
The more uncommon nature of Polonaise mesh makes this bracelet the perfect match for this Vulcain in my eyes. My Vulcain Heritage Cricket is an under-the-radar modern watch from a brand that lived its heyday many decades ago. Thankfully, Vulcain is still alive and kicking, making lovely in-house alarm watches like this one. But this model in particular is a limited edition of 500 pieces that took me several years to track down. I like the concept of pairing this rarely seen watch with the equally rare style of Polonaise mesh. To me, it’s as if this combo was destined to be, and I plan to enjoy it for many years to come!
If you’d like to get your hands on this Staib Polonaise mesh bracelet, I picked mine up from Bracelets-For-Watches.com. At just €22.69 before VAT, it might be worth checking out just for the fun of it! If you’re in the UK, Watch Obsession also carries it, and for the US peeps out there, Long Island Watch has got the hook-up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Strap Check, and let me know your thoughts on Polonaise mesh in the comments below!