The Legacy of the Original Expansion Bracelet

by Suzanne G. Beyer.
(Bothell, Washington State USA)

The original expansion bracelet, patented February 11, 1913. This bracelet is the forerunner to today's popular expansion watchband.

The original expansion bracelet, patented February 11, 1913. This bracelet is the forerunner to today’s popular expansion watchband.

My Great Uncle Art Hadley was known as someone who loved beautiful women, loved his drink and also loved to drive his Auburn Boattail Speedster sportscar during the Great Depression.

Inventor of the expansion bracelet, Art Hadley, seated at his desk. He's 28 years old. Year 1913.

Inventor of the expansion bracelet, Art Hadley, seated at his desk. He’s 28 years old. Year 1913.

Although Great Uncle Art was never talked about in our family, when I found a simple expansion bracelet in my mother’s jewelry box shortly after her death, I decided to investigate.

I discovered that not only was Art Hadley a "black sheep" of the family, he was also a creative genius.

I discovered that not only was Art Hadley a “black sheep”
of the family, he was also a creative genius.


Art Hadley invented the expansion bracelet in his Hadley Jewelry Company, Providence, Rhode Island in 1913. I own the original (see photo above) with the inscription on one of the links, February 11, 1913.

The expansion bracelet became the forerunner to our present-day expansion watchband worn by many. Hadley-Roma, the leading manufacturer of the expansion watchband, has kept our family name.

Detail of the original expansion bracelet.

Detail of the original expansion bracelet.

In 2003, my brother, cousins and I received a letter from a Rhode Island attorney stating, “It’s been determined that you are the heirs-at-law of Arthur Hadley.”

Wow – I’m going to be rich, I thought.

A month later, however, we received another letter saying at this time, it was unlikely we would receive anything from Hadley’s estate.

It was at this time, that we hired a Trust and Estate lawyer, John S. Pfarr, who ultimately guided us through a rollercoaster ride through the trial courts, mediation, scuttled settlements, the Rhode Island Supreme Court and beyond.

All is captured in our co-written book, “The Inventor’s Fortune Up For Grabs – the legacy of the expansion bracelet” by Suzanne G. Beyer and John S. Pfarr.

The Inventor’s Fortune Up For Grabs

The expansion bracelet now sits, center stage, in my corner cupboard, as its links are delicate and would break easily if worn.

I feel closer to my mother and my grandmother, Art’s sister, knowing I still own this cherished piece of jewelry.

Suzanne G. Beyer
The Inventor’s Fortune
Meet Suzanne at a book event


Fascinating bit of history
by: Rena

What an interesting family history, and a neat piece of historical jewelry as well. Thanks so much for sharing your story and photos with us, Suzanne!

Expansion Bracelet
by: Megan

Interesting story. I will remember it everytime I see a wristwatch with an expansion band! I never thought to wonder about who invented it.

The Importence of Knowing Your Heritage
by: Bernadette LaSorsa

I really love your story. How exciting to find out about your uncle Art inventing something you are passionate about. I hope you are checking into more of your heritage. Incase you haven’t documented the history of your uncle, I highly recommend you do for future generations. Best of luck, Bernadette

Expansion Bracelet
by: Mermaids Purse

Isn’t fun when you find out something great about your family history? I hope the legal issues will resolve quickly…in the mean time you are rich in knowledge of your family legacy. Happy Creating!

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,
Deborah Leon

by: Dora

I sure enjoyed your story, and I to will think of this every time I see the present day watch bands..
thank you so much for sharing 🙂

the amazing expansion bracelet

I watched the TV show “THE WILL” EACH NEW EPISODE n when I watched this episode I was amazed to know during the depression, one came up wit dis idea last today still along with the traffic lights. Now each band I have and see will always follow me, but I was amazed @ what I learned about the law and iam shocked @ the outcome for the other two but ideal greed made them lose why not settle for sum then none? N a motive on adopting adults where do they do that at, but good luck invest wisely I say. !

“The Will” Art Hadley estate debacle
by: Suzanne G. Beyer

Thank you everyone for your comments. Glad you liked Investigation Discovery “The Will” last night. Art Hadley was a creative genius with that expansion bracelet idea. I feel bad for the two cousins who got nothing – what a waste for them as they both have large families. We’ve given some of the inheritance to our girls who both have invested in their post bachelor degrees — yes, used wisely!
Thank you to everyone for taking such an interest in our story.
Best, Suzanne

Expansion on wristband
by: Anne

I was amazed that I found this site. I came across a watch wristband with the name HADLEY and two pat. no.’s on it. What a great piece of history.

Finding a Hadley
by: Rena

How cool, Anne! Thanks for sharing that neat find!

Art Hadley Estate Story – on TV
by: Anonymous

I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on my Great Uncle Art Hadley’s expansion bracelet. I’ve found out that not only Investigation Discovery “The Will” featured the Art Hadley Estate story, but last week, so did OWN network.
Thank you all for your interest!
Suzanne G. Beyer

FREE - Get 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks

Get Rena's 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks, plus the Jewelry Making Journal Newsletter - all for FREE.

We Respect Your Email Privacy

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments