We’ve already discussed how a wristwatch is a great accessory for a man’s wardrobe, but a pocket watch is on another level. It has an undeniable flair and will undoubtedly be a conversation piece. They are the most classic looking style accessories and show a unique sense of style for the wearer.
Most importantly, each pocket watch tells a story, or it should. Because so many of them are vintage or heirlooms, there is usually a nice story behind each one, providing sentimental value to the wearer and a distinct draw to anyone who notices them.
All this said, pocket watches are not for everyone. They require more effort than wristwatches and are usually only used for more dressy occasions, though they have plenty of everyday function as your daily timepiece. If you are interested in pocket watches and how to correctly apply them to your outfit, read on.
Types of Pocket Watches
Pocket watches have been around since the 17th century, and for most of their existence, there have been two main types of them. The hunter case, the original, has a spring-loaded cover used to protect the face of the watch and is opened to view the time. This is usually the type of pocket watch people think of when they think of pocket watches.
There are also variations of the hunter case. The first is half hunter which has a small hole in the middle of the cover so you can view the time without opening the cover. The second is a double hunter that has an additional cover on the back of the watch so you can see in inner workings of the watch.
The other primary type of pocket watch is an open face. This was introduced later than the hunter case but has almost as much popularity as the hunter. The only difference is there is no cover you have to open to see the face of the watch.
Pocket watches have thousands of material and style variations. It is one of the elements that make them so cool and unique. They can be made of brass or steel or gold or almost anything else. They can also be mechanical or quartz operating mechanisms. It is important that you pick a pocket watch that matches your style and personality.
How and When to Wear a Pocket Watch
Traditionally, a pocket watch is worn with a vest and a suit. This is the most elegant and classy way to wear a pocket watch. But you can also wear one every day in your front pocket if you choose.
To wear a pocket watch with your vest, you need a chain. When pocket watches were at their peak, every vest had a specific vertical hole to put your pocket watch chain through. Nowadays, you usually just fasten the chain to one of your buttonholes and then place the watch in a vest pocket, either low or high.
When wearing with a vest, you either wear the chain Single Albert or Double Albert. Single has just the chain in the hole and the watch in the pocket. Double has the chain in the hole and the watch going into one pocket, and the other end of the chain, usually attached to something else, going into the second vest pocket. We’ll get more into pocket watch chains in the next section.
You can also wear your pocket watch every day in your front pocket, even with jeans. There is a specific chain, or more accurately strap, that connects to your belt loop and then the watch hangs into your front pocket.
One last tip, you always wear your pocket watch in the pocket of your non-dominant hand. This is the tradition so that your dominant hand remains free when you check the time.
Pocket Watch Chains and Endings
There are several types of pocket watch chains or straps or whatever else. Whether gold or steel or leather, they should match and complement your specific pocket watch and occasion you’re wearing it to.
There are also different endings to the chain to secure the chain to your clothing. There are clip or hook endings used to secure the chain to a belt loop. The more classic and dressier type of ending is a fob or T-bar ending. These are used to go through a vest hole and hang down, with a unique ending that has a specific style to match or accentuate the chain.
Match Your Pocket Watch
You always want to try to match your pocket watch to your ensemble. If you are wearing it for a normal, everyday occasion, this isn’t as important. But if you are wearing it to a more formal occasion, you should try to match the pocket watch to your outfit. If you only have a gold pocket watch, and your outfit doesn’t work with gold, it’s best to keep the pocket watch at home.
The most important element to remember about your pocket watch is the personality and story it provides. If it works with your outfit, rock the pocket watch with confidence.
Maintain Your Pocket Watch
If you own a unique timepiece and you want to continue to wear it and use it and show it off, you have to maintain it as well. The first and most important step is to wind your pocket watch. Some pocket watches have a quartz mechanism and just require batteries, but most are mechanical and require daily winding.
There are two main types of winding mechanisms for pocket watches. The first is a key wind. For these, you need to open the back of the watch and use a notch and a key to wind the watch. The second is a stem wind. This has the knob at the top of the watch that you just need to turn to wind.
You also need to keep your pocket watch and chain clean of rust, moisture, and dust. Just wipe it clean with a soft cloth occasionally. You also should take your watch to a specialist to fix any issues, these can be more common if your watch is vintage.
How to Buy or Choose Your Pocket Watch
There are so many unique pocket watches out there, I can’t possibly provide a comprehensive guide to picking and choosing the right watch. For a good guide on vintage watches, I suggest going here.
Pocket watches are cool. Pocket watches are unique. They are a wonderful style statement that can set you apart from most men. More importantly, they usually tell a story. Pocket watches have a lot of historical significance, and if you are lucky and savvy enough to own a vintage one, never be afraid to wear one to complete your outfit.