The arrival of the wristwatch in the 20th century had a big impact on the popularity of the pocket watch. Having been the principal source of timekeeping for many generations, the advent of the wristwatch relegated pocket watches to the realm of old fogeyish gentlemen and a few diehard enthusiasts. For a few decades, railway guards tasked with keeping the trains running on time wore pocket watches. However, this has changed in recent years. Many young, style-conscious people are choosing to imitate the fashions of their great grandfathers and are now carrying pocket watches. With the resurgence in the pocket watch's popularity, the demand for both antique and contemporary pocket watches has increased.
Of the three main styles of pocket watch, the hunter is probably the most popular. It has a sophisticated charm all of its own, is full of character, yet remains a practical and dependable means of keeping the time. Nevertheless, when seeking out hunter pocket watches, shoppers still have difficulty finding a good range to choose from. High street jewellers often carry one or two pocket watches, but the selection of timepieces is heavily dominated by wristwatches. Hunter pocket watches can be found in antique shops. However, it takes considerable searching on the part of the buyer to find a good working specimen.
What Is a Hunter Pocket Watch?
Virtually all pocket watches share certain characteristics. These include a round face with slim working contained in a metal casing. Where the hunter differs is that its metal casing also has a metal lid that snaps shut like a clamshell. The advantage of such a lid is obvious, in that the delicate glass face of the pocket watch is protected against being damaged by sharp bumps or crushing weights. The watch face is also protected against dust and dirt.
It is very likely that the name 'hunter' stems from the fact that the hunter pocket watch case was developed for hunters participating in activities like fox hunting or gameshooting. Both of these demanding activities would subject a delicate pocket watch to a variety of physical shocks. While it may have been developed with the outdoorsy hunter in mind, the hunter pocket watch extended its popularity beyond hunters, and became a bestseller. Soldiers, travellers, farmers, merchants, industrial workers, and gentlemen about town all carried hunter pocket watches.
A double hunter is like a normal hunter, but its case opens at both the front and the back, making the watch and the workings of the watch visible to the wearer.
The Half-Hunter Pocket Watch
The full blown hunter pocket pocket should not be confused with the half-hunter,, which is a related but distinctly different style. The half-hunter shares the metal clamshell case design, but the difference lies with the circular aperture in the center of the cover. This opening is about the size of a pound coin, or a little larger. The aperture on the half-hunter pocket watch allows the wearer to see the central part of the watch face, and thus read the time without needing to open the cover. Engraved around the rim of the aperture are the same numerals that appear on the watch face beneath the cover.
The half-hunter therefore allows the time to be read even though the lid of the clamshell case is still shut, and half of the face still obscured. Often the aperture of the half-hunter is glazed, to form a continuous protective barrier for the face of the pocket watch.
Other Features of the Hunter Pocket Watch
Although the hunter pocket watch is still being manufactured over a century since it was first introduced, its design has evolved over the decades.
The hunter pocket watch is attached to a short chain, which is then secured to the wearer's clothing. Traditionally, this was by means of a watch fob, inserted into a special buttonhole in the front midline of the wearer's waistcoat. Nowadays, the chain can simply be clipped to a belt or belt loop, or some other convenient article of clothing. Alternatively, the pocket watch can be slipped into a jeans or trouser pocket, or or the breast pocket of a shirt or blouse.
Antique versions of the hunter pocket watch have the lid hinge positioned at the 9 o'clock position, and at 6 o'clock is a smaller dial with second hand. Modern hunters may still have the additional dial, but they are just as likely to have the second hand incorporated onto the main watch face, exactly like a wristwatch would.
Originally, hunter pocket watches needed winding, often twice a day. Their internal workings were elaborate systems of cogs and small gears, with jewels to protect the delicate bearings. These old fashioned watchmaker-style hunters are still manufactured, but they are very expensive. Most new hunter pocket watches have advanced quartz mechanisms. They are precision instruments, often Swiss made, with faces and internal workings very similar to a normal watch.
How to Buy a Hunter Pocket Watch
The first thing to decide when buying a hunter pocket watch, is whether to go for an antique version, or a contemporary design. A good quality antique specimen in working order is expensive. But for those who are prepared to pay the price, such a timepiece rewards the wearer by oozing style, sophistication, and old world charm.
A new, reproduction hunter pocket watch, or an all-out modern version with quartz mechanism and modern styling, can still be an expensive buy, if the buyer wants a top quality piece. Ultimately, it comes down to how much the buyer is prepared to spend, and where his or her priorities lie.
Unfortunately, the next step, finding a good range of hunter pocket watches from which to make a selection, is not straightforward affair. Hunter pocket watches can be found in high street jewellers, and department stores, but not in great numbers. Antique shops often have them, but equally, often do not. And it takes a lot of looking to find a good hunter pocket watch in good working order.
For these reasons, those searching for good quality hunter pockets should take their searches online. eBay, for example, offers extensive listings for hunter pocket watches posted by sellers located all over the UK.
Finding a Hunter Pocket Watch on eBay
Searching the listings for hunter pocket watches on eBay is easy. Simply type a search term, such as 'hunter pocket watch&' into the search bar on the eBay homepage, and this action brings up hundreds of listings, some of which are new watches and others antiques. A helpful feature of the search platform is that, depending on whether you are planning on making a substantial purchase or not, you can choose to have the results listed starting at the highest price working down, or at the lowest price working up.
You can narrow the results down further by specifying the characteristics that appeal to you. You can sort the listings based on the material, features, type of movement either hand-winding or battery-powered quartz,, and the age of the watch whether it is antique, modern, or vintage.
Once you have drilled down the search, take the time to read the descriptions and study the photos. It may be that you would like more information about a particular watch that you have seen. For example, you may want to see photos of the back, to check its condition. Or you may want to know what sort of movement it has inside, and whether it has been serviced. To find out, simply contact the seller using the information on their profile page.
The hunter pocket watch has been around since the 19th century, and in recent years it has seen an upsurge in its popularity. Originally developed as a means of protecting delicate watch mechanisms and watch faces when undertaking strenuous activities such as hunting, the case of a hunter pocket has a hinged, clamshell-like lid. When not being used to check the time, the lid snaps shut. The hunter pocket watch was traditionally worn attached to a metal chain, secured through a buttonhole in the wearer's waistcoat by means of a metal fob. These days, however, the chain is more likely to be secured by a clasp to a belt loop or shirt pocket.
The hunter pocket watches available today can either be antiques, or they can be modern reproductions of this old design. A third option is the thoroughly modern hunter pocket watch that keeps the hinged case but has a quartz mechanism inside and a modern watch face with a second hand.
Whether ancient or modern, finding a good selection of hunter pocket watches can be difficult. High street stores tend to stock only a few, and good examples of antiques hunter pocket watches can prove challenging to track down. However, eBay has a very wide selection of hunters, and the site has an easy to use search platform, allowing a user to target the timepiece they want quickly. This makes eBay a good place to look for a hunter pocket watch.