Since the 16th century, pocket watches have played a significant role in horological fashion. They served as the model for the modern wristwatch that we all like. Clock movements were able to be miniaturised by watchmakers in the sixteenth century. These new, more compact movements were incorporated into cases and connected to a chain that could be tucked into a pocket. For many years, the pocket watch was the epitome of horological style. Given the expensive cost of well-made pocket timepieces, they were a method to demonstrate class and money. They were considered to be an essential component of the gentlemanly look and were a mainstay of men’s fashion.
The demand for the traditional pocket watch fell as wristwatches were created. Though demand for these vintage clocks has grown over time, several contemporary watchmakers continue to produce pocket watches. A pocket watch is a popular addition for collectors. Despite the fact that they represent tradition, many people continue to wear them frequently. A pocket watch adds a touch of classic elegance to a suit or other professional attire. Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about these traditional timepieces.
A Synopsis of Pocket Watch History
The mainspring, created by Peter Henlein, was what finally allowed for the creation of the pocket watch. Prior to this, clocks were driven by falling weights that could not be shrunk in size. Henlein’s discovery transformed the watch industry by enabling pocket-sized and portable watches. The very first pocket watch designs were worn around the neck on a chain. As the mechanisms were not yet complex enough to control several hands, these watches only had one hand. The first time a pocket watch was used often was around 1675. This fashion was inspired by Charles II, who wore a waistcoat and carried his pocket watch in it. In those days, dressing like a prince was the height of style. High society members modelled their appearances after that of the royal family.
Up until the late 1700s, pocket watches were regarded as expensive objects. Each one took a tremendous amount of skill and craftsmanship to create. Parts that were standardised might be produced as technology advanced. This made pocket watches more inexpensive and available to a larger public by enabling their pricing to be cut. As more people needed the convenience of a wristwatch during the war, these clocks lost some of their appeal. Pocket watches have come and gone from popular culture throughout the contemporary era. They always make an elegant statement, though.
Pocket watches and men
Men and pocket watches have been partners for ages! (pun intended). They were every high status man’s go-to accessory.
The first watches were transitional in size between clocks and watches, produced in 16th-century Europe. These “clock-watches” were worn around the neck or attached to garments. They were substantial metal cylinders in the shape of drums that measured several inches in diameter. Only an hour hand was available. The face was not made of glass, but rather typically had a hinged brass cover that was ornamentally perforated with grillwork to display the time without opening. Until screws started to be used about 1550, the movement was made of iron or steel and held together with tapered pins and wedges. The movements frequently featured striking or alarm components. Later, the form took on a spherical shape, and they were known as Nuremberg eggs. Clock-watches in the shapes of books, animals, fruit, stars, flowers, insects, crosses, and even skulls (sometimes known as “Death’s head clocks”) were produced during the century’s closing years.
Men started putting their watches in their pockets in the 17th century rather than wearing them as pendants (women’s watches were still worn as pendants into the 20th century). The introduction of waistcoats by Charles II of England is credited with causing this in 1675. Their design changed to become more rounded and flattened, with no sharp edges, to fit in pockets. Around 1610, glass was employed to hide the face. Watch fobs, whose name comes from the German word fuppe, or “pocket,” were first used. By opening the rear, attaching a key to a square arbour, and rotating it, you can wind and set the watch.
Pocket Watch Types
Each sort of pocket watch will appeal to a certain wearer; there are many different types. Some pocket watches place a greater emphasis on functionality, while others seek to show off their true beauty. The cases of the first pocket watches were fashioned like eggs. This was due to the lack of glass or crystal protection for the dial. This required that the case’s shape be created to safeguard the delicate hands and movement inside. Since then, intricate designs and very precise modern movements have become possible in pocket watches because of advancements in technology and design. The modern collector will find them appealing because of these improvements. In our beginners’ guide to pocket watches, we have provided a brief description of each type of pocket watch because it is crucial to understand them before choosing the ideal one for you.
Pocket Watches with an Open Face
One of the earliest and most conventional designs of pocket watch is this one. They lack a dial cover, making them incredibly straightforward. This design decision was made so that train workers could quickly and easily check their pocket watches without having to open the case.
Pocket watches from Full Hunter
A cover that is hinged on the Full Hunter pocket watch will shield the dial. Because it is less likely to be scratched while kept in a pocket, this feature increases the pocket watch’s durability. The cover gives watchmakers an additional surface to embellish with intricate and striking patterns.
Hunter Pocket Watches in Half
Both the Full Hunter and Open Face styles are used in Half Hunter pocket watches. Like the Full Hunter, they have a hinged cover. The time may be seen through a transparent window on this cover, though. This style of pocket watch offers increased durability along with easy dial reading.
Pocket watches made by Double Hunter
Most double Hunter pocket watches tend to be primarily concerned with appearance. To maximise their elegance, they are typically larger-style pocket watches. These watches frequently include a skeleton dial and have hinged covers on both sides. This makes it possible to see the movement from all sides through the dial and the clear case back.
A pocket watch in 2023?
Men are rarely seen with pocket watches on the streets today since contemporary wrist watches and mobile phones have gradually replaced them in people’s daily lives. Elegant and powerful men still wear this timeless jewellery to emphasise their unique sense of style and image. However, celebrities’ choices in high fashion often seem to determine the appeal of particular products. For instance, when David Beckham wore a pocket watch to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, everyone wanted to run out and buy one for themselves. Although the pocket watch may not be as useful as it was intended to be, we cannot ignore how beautiful it looks. Therefore, by all means go for it if you wish to sport one with your personal flair.
Additionally, if you happen to have inherited a collection of classic pocket watches, make sure to look after them because you never know when they’ll add a touch of added elegance, style, and refinement to your ensemble. An antique, handcrafted watch makes a clear statement to society that your family has always had the best taste.
A common accessory that may always be utilised to emphasise social standing and unique style is the pocket watch. Modern men’s and women’s watch models are being created by top watchmakers, and you can now get a mechanical pocket watch on a chain at any specialty store or online.