Pocket watches remind us of a glorious era of watchmaking. But, don’t dismiss them as ancient yet! Still a much-coveted accessory, they are literally ruling pockets!
When we talk about the origin of watches, we move back in time to the era of pocket watches. Since the 1600s, these watches have been an integral part of fashion until wristwatches became popular towards the end of World War 1.
German inventor Peter Henlein is credited for being one of the foremost inventors of the pocket watch. Within the 19th century these watches enjoyed glory and patronage. This era heralded a number of watchmakers such as LeCoultre, Moser & Cie, Ulysse Nardin, Minerva, Heuer, IWC, and many others that were established in this period. The quality of pocket watches became much better than ever, as did the craftsmanship in the decorative features of the watch.
Beauty in the pocket
Pocket watches with their beautiful chains and decorative bodies evoke an aura of mystery and nostalgic style. Long before people strapped watches to the wrist, they attached them to chains that would prevent the watches from falling off. Obviously, as the art of watchmaking progressed it was natural for these little timepieces to be decorative. This feature was not restricted to the timepiece alone. The chains also provided a lot of scope for creativity in design. Watchmakers thus experimented with the shape of the watches, the chains and the covers for the watches (the flaps) as well.
Pocket watches have different styles. The open faced ones are where the case lacks a metal cover and the or hunter-case ones have a lid or cover that closes over the dial. The full-hunter style pocket watch has a hinged covering that must be lifted when the person wants to check on the time while the half-hunter pocket watch style has a hole or crystal in the covering so that the person can see the time without opening the cover.
Double-Hunter Pocket Watch has a front covering like the half-hunter but also a back covering which enables him to open it and see the movement. The Double Half-Hunter Style has all the features of the half-hunter and the double-hunter pocket watch along with a covered opening in the front, which allows the person to see the hands as well as inner workings. Not surprisingly, this type is very popular with collectors.
Pocket watches today
The use of pocket watches in the modern times has declined as far as regular and professional use is concerned. But, of course, for collectors, the allure of the pocket watch remains. With steampunk, a subcultural movement, pocket watches have somewhat regained a bit of their popularity.
In the modern times, pocket watches are more of a style statement. They are also heirlooms that can be passed on down generations. People choose fancy and decorative fobs, chains, belts and loops to attach to their pocket watches. In the Victorian Age, pocket watch etiquette was a long drawn thing. For example, a man could not publicly display his timepiece. However, today there are no such rules. People may wear pocket watches as in the past. They can wear them round the neck if they wish.
Today, Pocket watches have become an expression of style and are probably at their fashionable best!