When it comes to telling time, people have various kinds of preferences. Some opt for the more usual and traditional mechanical watches, some opt for a funky smart watch, while some may opt to omit a watch and just rely on their phone to tell time. For those who choose to have a watch, the dilemma of picking a style is the next big thought to ponder on. A watch can make or break one’s overall look. This is why it’s important to wear one that’s suitable for you, your outfit, and the occasion.
While most of the time, people think of watches as something to be worn around the wrist, a watch can also be worn or carried in other ways. A pocket watch is exactly what it is - meant for your pocket.
History of the Pocket Watch
Pocket watches started way back in the 16th century. Ever since they first emerged, pocket watches have always played a significant role in our civilization and progress in the world of watches. Safe to say, pocket watches are an important element of men’s fashion. These tiny, round, timepieces were a portable way to tell them. However, more than just telling time, these pieces were meant to act as a piece to elevate one’s social status until mass production of these items made them more accessible.
Around the late 1400s and first few decades of the 1500s, society and technology had advanced so that mechanical engineering would be able to make simple spring devices and mainsprings. Because of this technological advancement, Peter Henlein was able to build a watch that was much easier to manufacture. His creation would no longer depend falling weights for it to function. These early pockets became commonly worn around the neck. It was very similar to a pendant.
One famous historical man that was known to be fond of pocket watches was Charles II of England. Instead of using what we now know as the pocket watch with a chain as a pendant, he decided to wear it in his pocket. Lo and behold, the pocket watch was officially born and popularized all over Europe and North America. By then, glass protection was already possible and so pocket watches became the luxury item that was sought after by fashion designers and innovators.
Of course, given that the pocket watches first emerged during an unmodern time, they encountered several issues before they were perfected into what we know them now to be. One of the problems that earlier models of the pocket watches encountered was that they did not accurately tell time as they became prone to run slow and lose couple of hours throughout a day. Because of the huge technological advancement that developed over time, innovators found numerous ways to create a finer machine that would lessen its room for error and would only lose one to two minutes a day and fully maintain its accuracy.
In the 1820s, manufacturers started using levers in clock and watch mechanics. It was a lot easier to deal with manufacturing as parts were now standardized and available in the market by the late 1850s. This led to watches being mass-produced and readily available to a lot of people.
Different Kinds of Pocket Watches
Just like a lot of other fashion items, pocket watches also have different kinds. You’d think that it only came in this flat round shape with a chain, but men throughout the years found different ways to make it stylish and luxurious adapting perfectly to their preferences.
The Pocket Watch
Collectors of pocket watches usually stick with one particular design or a well-known brand that’s known for specializing in a certain design. Certain elements determine the value and age of the watch as well as its attractiveness to potential owners. The most common go-to designs for most people are the five types namely, open-face, full hunter, half hunter, double hunter, and double half hunter.
Open-Face Pocket Watch
This is considered to be one of the oldest designs of a watch. This style is also known as the “railroaders watch”. This has a lot to do with its history. Back in the 1880s, all railway workers were made to carry a pocket watch of a certain kind in order to ensure timings were consistently met across the railway networks. During this time, other designs were still not available.
Full Hunter Pocket Watch.
This watch has a cover on a hinge opened with a small button in the crown. Because of the problems with the porcelain being easily breakable, the full hunter was created in order to make the watch more durable. As the design became more popular, manufacturers ended up making full hunter watches with delicate engravings on the front case to give a more appealing design to people with an eye for detail.
Half Hunter Pocket Watch
This pocket watch design is a variation of the full hunter. It’s similar to the full hunter because both styles have a dial protected by a hinged case. The case also includes a window in the middle, which lets the user tell time without needing to open the case. The half hunter design normally has numerals on the case around the window so that reading time becomes easier.
Double Hunter Pocket Watch
The double hunter is usually known for being a larger pocket watch design compared to the others and usually has a mechanical movement. The watch has a skeleton dial that allows the user to see the workings around the watch's hands. Once the back cover opens, the movement can also be seen through a large viewing window. This large viewing window is also sometimes used as a heartbeat window feature. The double hunter can also be opened on both sides, which makes it possible to stand similar to a desk clock.
Double Half Hunter Pocket Watch
This design is known to have luxurious features of the double hunter with the added bonus of a viewing window on the front. Just like the half hunter, the user is able to read the time easily without needing to open the watch. The double hunter design also allows either a viewing window or a heartbeat window on the back case, which results in an overall elegant design.
The Pocket Watch Chain Types
When it comes to the chains of the pocket watch, there are also different kinds to choose from. Of course, this has evolved over the years and preferences have changed. This also depends on the preferred size and style best suited for the occasion. One tip most people swear by is that the length of the chain would highly vary depending on how often you are planning to wear the watch. If the pocket watch is only meant for special occasions, a light chain is the best choice. But, if you plan to wear the pocket watch on a daily basis, a sturdier and thicker chain is better.
The more traditional belief is that the color of the material of the watch should at least be similar in color to the material of its chain. Once attached, this gives the overall effect and illusion that the chain would then become a part of the pocket watch’s style. For a more modern look, some men have been more playful in styling their pocket watches. A leather pocket watch with a chain is also a great piece. With today’s modernity and openness to mixing and matching different styles, the best combination would be putting together everything that defines a pocket watch and elevating it with modern or contemporary style. These are the three kinds of chains for pocket watches that you will see out in the market.
Albert T-Bar Chain
This chain got its name from Queen Victoria’s husband. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was fond of wearing a pocket watch as part of his daily attire. This kind of chain is best for those who plan on wearing the pocket watch together with a jacket, and a vest or waistcoat. The buttonhole of either of the two garments can be used to thread the chain and hold the piece in place. This will allow you to keep your pocket watch in your side or breast pocket.
Belt Loop Chain
This kind of chain attaches to a belt or the top of the trousers. Unlike the Albert T-Bar, the belt loop is worn around the waistband of your pants or trousers. You can thread your belt through its loop as you wear it to keep the chain secure on your waist. For this one, you can keep the pocket watch inside your pants’ pocket. It’s actually very similar to those chain wallets that were big in the 90’s.
Bolt Ring Chain
The bolt ring chain is very similar to the belt loop since this is also threaded by the belt to be kept in place. However, this chain is more versatile since it can also be threaded through your waistcoat’s or jacket’s button hole.
How to Wear A Pocket Watch
It’s normal to feel a bit intimidated by the thought of owning a pocket watch in the 21st century. Is it the right time to own one? Well, the pocket watch has surely earned its place as a classic piece. It’s really just up to your styling in order to pull off the look. Here are some things you might find useful when it comes to men’s pocket watches with chains.
The most classic and well-known way to wear a pocket watch is attached to a waistcoat during very special occasions. You wear it by threading the pocket watch chain through your lapel button hole, placing your pocket watch in to your breast pocket or letting it dangle, and placing the pocket watch clip into your jacket pocket or clipping it to a comfortable spot. Usually, men opt for this look when attending weddings. Of course, no one really attends a wedding every single day, so people have found other different ways on how to style the classic and versatile timepiece.
With a Two-Piece Suit
While most people think that wearing a pocket watch with just a suit isn’t going to work, this look can actually be pulled off. A pocket watch with a suit is perfect for less formal occasions but you still want to make a powerful impression. A pocket watch chain can be attached through the suit jacket’s buttonhole, allowing the watch to be freely slipped into the jacket’s pocket. Another option is to wear a belt with a loop chain, which will let the watch be safely stored in the trouser pocket.
Another way to complete the look of pocket watches with suits is to add accessories. For instance, a baker boy hat is a popular choice to add on top of wearing a pocket watch. This is because this combination goes way back to historical times. A pocket watch is commonly seen paired with a tweed suit and completed with a waistcoat and black leather shoes. A baker hat is a rounded, flat cap with a slight platform over the forehead region.
Just like other accessories, it is important to consider the color and texture of the baker boy hat to see if it would go well with the overall look. Colors deemed too similar to the suit or waistcoat may clash with the look, and adding a pocket watch would make it more unflattering.
With a Casual Outfit
We know what you are thinking – there must be some sort of way to make the pocket watch more casual and suited for that everyday look. With today’s modern and more casual attire on a daily basis, you might think the pocket watch has no place for it. Jeans and a pocket watch may seem like a hopeless combination like you and the girl you like, but with just the right styling, it is guaranteed to work out perfectly!
Although, with the pocket watch, you traditionally wear the pocket watch in your vest or you can wear the pocket watch on your vest. Alternatively, you can also opt to slip it into your trouser pockets. Jeans are now the most common choice when it comes to bottoms in this 21st century. Jeans are the perfect way to dress down an extremely formal attire while still maintaining a smart casual look by adding the pocket watch. In fact, jeans and pocket watches were paired together when denim designs became popular. The relationship between jeans and pocket watches have been proven to be solid over time.
Of course, a pocket watch automatically gives you an extra quirk. However, when it comes to jeans, this can be a bit more subtle and less “flashy” in nature. After all, most jeans have a secret pocket in the waistband for the exact purpose of storing a pocket watch! If you get a specific pair of bottoms meant for your pocket watch, this can automatically be a part of your capsule wardrobe. This can be mixed and matched with different shirts and blazers as well, so you make the most out of it.
For jeans, it is best to go for black, grey, or dark blue colors when wearing a pocket watch. A light wash pair of jeans brings a very casual feel, which overly contrasts the formality of the pocket watch. In terms of the fit, slim or straight fit jeans would be the better option instead of the loose or baggy jeans. Wear a blazer together with the jeans to tie up the whole look together and pull off the “smart casual” aesthetic. Tip: to attach the pocket watch to your jeans, go for a belt loop pocket watch chain and place the pocket watch in the jean pocket. If you’re a bit more fun and adventurous, some men add other accessories such as sunglasses for a funkier look.
When to Wear a Pocket Watch
After getting the facts and styling out of the way, your next question might be when can you wear your pocket watch? If you’re not the type to wear it with jeans for your casual days, then there are a lot of other occasions for it!
Weddings. This is the best occasion to suit up and be stand out whether you’re the groom or the groomsman! Add an extra touch of classiness to your outfit with a silver pocket watch.
Date Nights. If you’re planning to really dress to impress and make the night extra memorable, a pocket watch adds extra detail to your outfit. This could hint to your date that you’re willing to give her all the time in the world.
In the 21st century, fashion has become more open and forgiving. You can get away with almost any trend as long as you feel confident and comfortable about it. Now is the time to go out of your comfort zone and try a new style you never thought you’d be able to pull off.
So, after going through the “what”, the “when”, and the “where”, we can go through the most important question. “Why do you need a pocket watch?”
Why Do You Need a Pocket Watch?
We get it… Pocket watches seem very intimidating. Most people would think pocket watches would cost an arm and a leg and maybe a lifetime worth of debt. However, contrary to popular belief, pocket watches are actually pretty affordable or at least reasonably priced. In fact, a pocket watch is probably a luxury you can afford. An entry-level Rolex or Omega is around five grand. A mint condition WWII American-made pocket watch, however, can be bought for around $300 to $800 only.
Pocket watches are also useful. Of course, it is essentially a device that tells time, just worn in a different way. Its purpose and overall use would not go away or expire. After all, we all need to be able to read and tell time. Pocket watches are even said to be more durable than the usual wristwatch. Good quality pocket watches are meant to last a lifetime. This is an item that can be passed down from generation to generation, making it a family heirloom. Most men buy a pocket watch with the intention of passing it down to their family members as part of a sentimental treasure or inheritance.
After mentioning how to wear the pocket watch in different ways and on different occasions, we can all agree that pocket watches are versatile. Whether it’s for formal or semi-formal events, a pocket watch has its place.
The Final Word
Overall, a pocket watch is a piece that will never go out of style. After all, its roots date back to the 1600s, and owning one in the 21st century is still perfectly acceptable! We’re sure this classic timepiece will never go out of style. Different ways of wearing it have also emerged and will continue to do so in the next couple of years. This timeless piece of men’s jewelry will always carry utmost elegance and sophistication. Whether you want it worn with a waistcoat or vest for formal events, or you’d rather wear it with jeans, a pocket watch will be perfect. With different designs and different chains out there, you are bound to find a pocket watch that will last you a lifetime.