Your Guide to Wearing a Pocket Watch

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Your Guide to Wearing a Pocket Watch

Pocket watches are valuable collectors' items and remain as a style statement to the present day. They helped turn the field of timekeeping into a fashionable and popular medium. For those looking to purchase their own pocket watch, it is important first to understand exactly how to wear one. The easiest way to do that is to first gain a total understanding of the history of pocket watches, all of which can be found in this guide. This guide aims to help a buyer understand exactly how to wear a pocket watch by detailing its history and the many styles and benefits that make it popular. If the pocket watch will be in constant use, carefully maintenance is essential to ensure a stylish look is maintained.

History of Pocket Watches

Before the invention of clocks, ancient societies relied on sundials and hourglasses to track the passage of time. These pieces were useful but clearly had many drawbacks. One of the first mechanised clocks was constructed in Bedfordshire, England at the end of the 1300s. After this, clock production expanded across Europe and new innovations began to occur. At the beginning of the 16th century the first portable watch, known as the Nuremberg Egg, appeared. These long, heavy cylinders were worn about the neck and only bore an hour hand. By the 17th century the pocket watch was invented. It eventually received its name from the popularisation of the waistcoat where the watch was usually kept. As styles continued to evolve during the Victorian era, watch fobs became prevalent and added another element to the style of the pocket watch. As the industrial revolution continued, pocket watch manufacturing became simpler as more of the population could afford pocket watches. This has led to a large selection of pocket watches being available.

Discover Pocket Watches

Antique pocket watches come from a time of when almost all things were made by hand. The attention to detail given to these pieces has meant that many watches made hundreds of years ago are still in working order today. Many of those watches were made with solid silver, a metal that became popular for its non-reactive nature and its pleasant appearance. Solid silver or sterling silver as some know it, is made up of 92.5 percent silver. This amount keeps the metal looking beautiful while strengthening its natural weakness with a small amount of other metals. English Assay Offices approved this mixture in the early 13th century. A solid silver pocket watch will maintain its glossy coat for years so long as it is properly cared for which made it a very popular metal in the later half of the 19th century. These pocket watches also benefited from a more rigorously defined jewel standard that came about in this time period. It is important to note that pocket watches over 100 years old are considered antiques, while those 50-100 years old are typically considered vintage. Pocket watches remain a popular collectors' item for their appearance as well as their high standard of functionality.

Parts of a Pocket Watch

For pocket watches that are constantly in use it is important to understand their inner workings to help maintain their functionality. These parts are often mentioned in sales descriptions, and understanding them can help ensure that any pocket watch stays in tip top shape for as long as possible.




The case is used to protect the mechanical parts of the watch. Cases can be plain or decorative, open faced or closed. There are a wide variety of cases available.


This is the part that drives the movement of the many mechanisms inside the watch. In most pocket watch this is a central main spring.


The face of the watch that bears the time markings upon it.


The rotating hands that indicate the time.


The winder on a pocket watch helps set the time and keeps the escapement moving. These can usually be found near the twelve hand of the watch.

Main Spring

This is the escapement of most pocket watches. It drives the action by being manually ‘wound up’ and left to power the clock’s many parts.


Jewels are added to the watch to help prevent wear and tear on the inner mechanisms. They can also be used to tell the quality of the watch.

Types of Pocket Watches

Pocket watches come in five main types that each have unique features specific that that style. Gaining a full knowledge of these styles can help better match a watch to the most stylish chain or fob possible.






A watch with no cover protecting the dial.

· Simple and cheap.

· Must be treated carefully, can scratch easily.

Full Hunter

A watch with a decorative cover that protects and obscures the dial.

· Protects the dial and can feature elaborate designs on the front and back.

· Traditionally had the stem placed next to the three position.

Half Hunter

A watch with a protective cover made of glass or crystal that can be read without opening.

· Keeps the dial protected but still allows the time to be viewed without opening.

· Traditionally had the stem placed next to the three position.

Double Hunter

Similar to the full-hunter but with a lid on the back that can be opened to view the mechanisms inside.

· Allows the internal mechanisms to be put on display for easy repair.

· Often had its stem placed on top of the twelve position.

Double Half-Hunter

A combination of the half-hunter and double full-hunter watches, with two lids and a glass or crystal window in front.

· Combines the benefits of the double full-hunter with the window of the half-hunter.

· Often had its stem placed on top of the twelve position.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Pocket Watch

Pocket watches have a variety of important factors that can add to their desirability. These factors also influence the ways in which they should be worn. Some of the most important features are:

  • Jewel Standard – Jewels are added to prevent wear and tear on the inner mechanisms of the watch. The number of jewels can also determine a watches value. The minimum number of jewels is seven, while a standard watch has seventeen, any number higher than that is a sign of excellent craftsmanship.
  • Age – The age of a watch can be determined through a maker’s hallmark or a serial number. The age can help determine the value and style of any watch.
  • Originality – An original watch contains only the parts that it received when it was built. Any new parts may lower the originality and value of a watch.
  • Appearance – Pocket watches can range hugely in terms of their decoration, and choosing the correct design should be down to personal preference.

Typical Features of Pocket Watches

Pocket watches have many features that are important to remember when searching for a unique or valuable piece. These factors can include:

1.  Hallmarks

Depending on the age of the watch and the material it is made out of, it may have a unique hallmark. This symbol comes directly from the manufacturer and confirms its authenticity. These marks can sometimes be valuable simply for aesthetic reasons.

2.  Decorative casing

Many hunter style cases have decorative covers that can add the look of a pocket watch while increasing its value.

3.  Handcrafted pieces

Many pocket watches come from a time of handcraftsmanship that makes them very valuable and durable. These watches are can continue to stay in great condition with simple maintenance from their owner.

How to Care for Pocket Watches

It is important to learn how to care for a new timepiece to keep it running smoothly and avoid damage. Keep the watch pocket free from contact with other items that may damage the watch, including keys and other metal objects. Keep the pocket watch away from liquids, as they can ruin the intricate inner workings of the watch. Watches must be sufficiently wound to keep ensure accurate time keeping and avoid damage - this probably needs to occur daily as most pocket watch springs only last about twenty-eight to thirty hours. However, over-winding can be detrimental, and the winding intervals will depend on the individual watch. If the mechanisms inside are damaged take the watch to a professional and do not attempt to fix it alone. Make sure the repairmen disassemble the watch first. If a pocket watch is treated with respect and care and it should stay in good working order for generations to come.

Popular Pocket Watches Manufacturers

Many famous pocket watch makers had their start in the 16th century. These remain some of the most reliable sources in history. Some of the most famous examples include:

  • Elgin
  • Waltham
  • Ball
  • Dudley Masonic
  • Hampden
  • Hamilton
  • Howard
  • Illinois
  • Ingersol
  • Patek Phillipe
  • Railroad Watch

How to Wear a Pocket Watch

A pocket watch can be worn in a few different ways depending on the accessories that are available. For instance, with a watch fob, make sure to attach a chain to both the watch and the fob before place the watch inside the vest or coat pocket. Then arrange the fob to be facing outwards with the chain dangling across the front of the waistcoat. Without a coat or jacket, it is also possible to simply use the watch chain as a ‘u’ shaped loop outside a pant or shirt pocket. With a vest it is important to have the chain go across the entire front of the vest, with the fob or button being placed in the middle. A simple style is to buy a leather strap and have that dangle out of the pocket pouch, found in the right hand pocket of most trousers, for a more relaxed look. However a buyer chooses to wear their pocket watch, watch safety must be paramount.

Finding Pocket Watches on eBay

Once you determine the type of pocket watch you want to purchase, visit the Jewellery and Watches portal on eBay, click on 'Silver' then sub-category 'Solid Silver' and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Pocket Watches on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique pocket watches. For example, to find a half hunter pocket watch, type ‘Half Hunter Pocket Watch’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for antique solid silver pocket watches with keywords. If you can’t find the exact pocket watch you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


Learning how to correctly wear a pocket watch becomes simpler once buyers have familiarised themself with the full history of the pocket watch. This guide aims to inform buyers on the history and style of the pocket watch to better understand the piece that they hope to wear. Learning to care for and wear a pocket watch should help buyers make the very best of their pocket watch. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique pocket watch safely and securely on eBay.

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