Pocket watches have been a fashionable accessory for centuries. The pocket watch reached the height of its popularity in the late 19th century when it became an important part of railroad timekeeping. This constituted a shift in the availability of pocket watches. Previously reserved as status symbols for the upper class, pocket watches were now used by the lower and middle classes as well.
Whilst pocket watches have since fallen in and out of fashion, the wearing of a pocket watch can certainly heighten a look, and is even today seen as a marker of class and etiquette. Some pocket watches are also cherished family heirlooms.
With pocket watches now available online at numerous different price points, the timepieces are more accessible than ever.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at all of the different ways that a pocket watch can be worn, helping you to elevate your look with a classic timepiece.
Choosing The Right Pocket Watch
Before choosing how you will wear your pocket watch, it is important to understand the different pocket watch styles available. Depending on your personal style and lifestyle, a certain type of pocket watch might be better suited to you.
Colour and Material
One of the important aspects to consider when choosing a pocket watch is the colour and material that it is made from.
Pocket watches are typically made from either gold, stainless steel, or silver, with some pocket watches being gold or silver plated. Of course, the material that the watch is made from will inform the price, with stainless steel and plated pocket watches being the cheapest, and gold watches commanding a premium. As such, it is important to consider your budget when choosing a material.
In addition, you must also consider the colour material that suits you best. Do you wear more silver or gold jewellery? If you don’t wear jewellery, which material do you believe would suit your style and skin tone?
It is also important to think about how often you will wear the pocket watch. Different materials are more susceptible to wear. For example, gold is softer and more malleable than stainless steel. As such, if you are going to wear the pocket watch every day it might be best to buy a stainless steel watch for every day use, and keep any gold pocket watches for special occasions.
There are four main styles of pocket watches as below:
- Open-faced (lepine) – a pocket watch with no cover over the face
- Half-hunter – a pocket watch with a cover that partially encloses the watch face. The time can be read through the hole in the cover, and the cover can be opened to reveal the whole watch face.
- Full-hunter – a pocket watch with a cover that fully encloses the watch face. The cover must be opened in order to read the time.
- Double-hunter – a pocket watch with a cover on the front and on the back. Both covers can be opened.
When deciding which style pocket watch to buy, you should consider which of the above styles is your favourite, and which is practical for your own personal use. For example, the open-faced pocket watch is the best for reading the time quickly, as there is no cover to pull back. However, if your main concern is protecting the watch face, then a full-hunter or double-hunter might be the best choice.
To find out more about how the above attributes (as well as complications) can affect the value of a pocket watch, click here.
Understanding The Pocket Watch Chain
Once you have decided which material and style pocket watch you wish to buy, you should then consider which chain would suit your needs best.
Pocket watch chains are chains that attach to the top of the watch and then to an item of clothing so that the pocket watch does not fall and get broken or lost. There are numerous different chain types including:
- Single Albert – Named for Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, the Albert chain features a T-bar that loops into buttonholes on waistcoats or vests. The watch goes in the opposite pocket to your dominant hand.
- Double Albert – This is similar to a single Albert chain, but features an extra chain and a pendant, called a fob.
- Belt slide – One of the simplest chains available, the belt slide chain has a piece that slides over your belt. The pocket watch is attached to the other end of the chain.
- Bolt ring – The bolt ring chain features a spring-loaded lock that attaches to the buttonhole of a waistcoat or, more commonly, a belt loop.
How To Wear A Pocket Watch With A Waistcoat
Pairing a pocket watch with a waistcoat is one of the classic ways of wearing a pocket watch.
The pocket watch should be placed in the pocket that is opposite to your dominant hand. This way, your dominant hand is kept free whilst you are reading the time.
The most common chains used when wearing a pocket watch with a vest or waistcoat are the single and double Albert chains.
If you would like to incorporate your buttonholes into the look, the best way of doing this is to loop the chain through a buttonhole of your choice. Typically, the buttonhole above the pocket works best. However, if you would like to adjust the length of the chain (or how much it hangs down) you can use any buttonhole you wish. For this, Albert chains are most suited.
However, belt slide chains can also be worn with waistcoats. Simply slide the attachment over the hem of the pocket and place the watch inside.
How To Wear A Pocket Watch With A Suit Jacket
If wearing your pocket watch with your suit jacket is preferable, then your can incorporate the lapel of your jacket into the look. Simply attach the chain to the buttonhole in the lapel of the jacket. Your pocket watch can be stored in the breast pocket.
You can use any type of chain for this look, as long as one end of the chain can be attached to your lapel. Most commonly, however, wearers use bolt ring chains and belt slide chains.
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How To Wear A Pocket Watch With Jeans or Trousers
For a more smart-casual look, pocket watches can be worn with jeans or trousers. Place your watch in your front pocket (opposite your dominant hand) and attach the chain to your belt, waistband, or belt loops. The best chains for this would be the belt slide chain or the bolt ring chain.
Alternatively, if you are pairing your jeans or trousers with a button-down shirt, you can use an Albert chain, sliding the T-bar into one of the button holes.
How To Wear A Pocket Watch As A Necklace
Finally, there is not really any rule that says you have to wear your pocket watch, well, in your pocket. Instead, wearing the pocket watch as a necklace can elevate your look, perhaps in place of a traditional statement necklace.
To do this, simply replace the pocket watch chain with a necklace chain. It is important to ensure that the chain has integrity and is capable of holding the weight of the watch, so be sure to select something a little more heavy-duty.
Elevate Your Look
A popular way of wearing a pocket watch is to create contrast between the watch and the other colours in your outfit. For example, a shiny gold pocket watch will look classic and timeless with a navy three-piece suit. A silver pocket watch will stand out against a black outfit.
Ultimately, you can wear your pocket watch however you wish. As long as you are comfortable and you have taken into account the safety of your watch as well as your style, then your look will certainly be upgraded by the timeless addition of a pocket watch.
What Is My Pocket Watch Worth?
If you have a pocket watch that you are looking to have valued and potentially sell, Mark Littler Ltd is here to help.
Read our Ultimate Guide To Pocket Watch Values to find out more about what affects the value of pocket watches. You can also get in touch for a free valuation and to find out more about how we can help you sell your pocket watch.