In men’s fashion, it doesn’t get much more classic than a pocket watch. These portable timepieces were first introduced in the 16th century and were a sign of wealth. In the 1800s, however, they became less expensive and almost every man would have owned his own pocket watch until wristwatches became popular in the first half of the twentieth century. These days, pocket watches are still popular in high style men’s fashion. If you’re ready to take your style up a notch, here is everything you need to know about pocket watches.
Types of Pocket Watches
There are two main categories of pocket watches, open-faced or hunter’s case. An open-faced pocket watch lacks a cover to protect the crystal face of the watch. These types of pocket watches were popular with their use by railroad engineers in the last 1800s. In contrast, hunter’s case pocket watches have a spring loaded cover over the face of the watch. The cover protects the crystal face from scratches, dirt, and other damage. The name is due to their popularity with fox hunters in England who preferred using one hand to open the watch while on the hunt.
How to Wear a Pocket Watch
There are two main ways one can wear a pocket watch. A more casual option is to attach the watch to your belt loop and keep the watch in your pants pocket. This is the way favored by 1950s icon James Dean among others. More formally the chain of the watch, known as an Albert chain, is attached to the vest pocket of a suit and the watch is kept in the breast pocket. A variation of this is a double Albert watch which has an additional chain used to hold keys which are in the opposite pocket.
Popular Brands of Pocket Watches
American producers Waltham, Hamilton, and Elgin were popular pocket watch manufacturers during the years of the steam power era, roughly between 1850 and the Second World War. They designed the watches to be very accurate and to withstand the rigors of the railroad. They inscribed the watches with the word “adjusted.” This means that it has been tested under stringent conditions, making them fit for use by railroad officials.
Luxury Bespoke Pocket Watches
In more recent years luxury watchmaker Roger Dubuis has introduced a limited production collection of pocket watches called Hommage Millesime. This ode to pocket watches of the past produced only 20 of these luxurious watches. They are creating them to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Dubuis uses antique blanks refinished using ancestral crafts and upgraded to meet 21st-century specifications such as the Poinçon de Genève, otherwise known as the Geneva seal.
My character has been forged through restoration…what could be more moving and uplifting than to walk in the footsteps of these watchmakers from another era? I have always felt immense admiration and profound respect for their work, their conscientious discipline and their superior intelligence. The overriding purpose has always been to ensure that all of us who are true devotees of fine mechanisms may continue to enjoy these masterpieces – whether new or historical creations – and to pass them on in our turn.
These watches are available only at the Dubuis boutique in Geneva.
You can find pocket watches in a luxury boutique or an antique store, even on online auction sites. Regardless of where you purchase it, you’re sure to garner attention for taking on this classic trend. For more about timepieces, explore A Watch for Every Profession: Here’s What Your Timepiece Says About You.