A Closer Look at Antique Pocket Watches

Pocket watches have been an important part of contemporary civilization and developments in the watch world. Since the 16th century, they have actually been an integral part of male style. These small, round watches represented portable clocks and were a status sign up until mass production became easy.
Guy Holding a Pocket Watch c1560s

Early Years

By the late 1400s and early 1500s, mechanical engineering had actually reached the point where easy spring gadgets, mainsprings, might be made. German developer Peter Henlein was able to create a watch that did not require falling weights to power the motion. These early pocket watches remained in truth used as pendants on a chain.

They were egg-shaped and bulky as the front of the case was rounded to protect the dials before crystals were included. These covers were in some cases even embellished with grill-work so the time could be checked out without opening the case. The introduction of screws in the 1550’s allowed for the change to the modern-day flat shape that we know pocket watches to have. This allowed a brass cover to be attached, securing the dial from outside damage. Being a shift in between clocks and watches, the early pocket watches just featured an hour hand.

Charles II of England

Charles II is believed to be the producer of wearing a pocket watch in a pocket for males, while females continued to use them on chains around the neck. Charles II introduced waistcoats in 1675, forever altering the shape of these early watches and how they were worn. By this point likewise, glass had been introduced to cover and secure the watch face.

The shape developed and was flattened to fit within a pocket of a vest. All sharp edges were gotten rid of to prevent cutting the fabric and losing the watch. At this time, watches were still wound by turning a key; self winding motions came a long time later on. Up until the late 1700s, watches were considered high-end items scheduled for the elite.

Improvements in Technology

These early pocket watches did not keep time precisely, they typically wound up losing several hours during one day. The crucial advancement of the lever escapement changed accuracy, allowing watches to just lose one or two minutes through one day. This escapement also allowed for the minute hand to be presented into pocket watches.

By the 1820s, levers were basic in clock and watch mechanics. Standardized parts were presented in the late 1850s allowing for watches to be standardized and available to everyone. These watches were long lasting and accurate but also economical. The American Waltham Watch Company could produce more than 50 thousand reputable watches, beginning the manufacturing effort.

Types of Pocket Watches

Open Face Watches
These watches lack the metal cover to protect the crystal. The winding stem is discovered at 12 o’clock with a sub-second dial found at 6 o’clock. Open-faced watches were required for railroad service to quickly and quickly check out the time.

Hunter-Case Watches
This kind of watch included a spring-hinged metal cover that closes to protect the dial and crystal. Antique variations include the hinges at 9 o’clock and the crown at 3 o’clock. Modern variations are turned and include the hinge at 6 o’clock and crown at 12 o’clock. These cases were also able to be engraved and you can find many different concepts produced.

Double-Hunter Watches
Really similar to the Hunter-Case, these watches also included a hinged back case that opened up so the mechanical movements could be seen. These watches have their hinges at 6 o’clock so both sides could be opened and the watch can quickly stand by itself.

Types of Pocket Watch Movements

Secret Wind

The very first pocket watches from the 16th century all the way through to the mid 19th century all included crucial wind motions. These pocket watches required a secret to wind and set the time. Generally one would eliminate the case back and put the key in a special setting that would be linked to the winding mechanism.

The exact same secret was used when the time needed to be set. One would put the key into the setting mechanism which would be attached to the minute wheel to turn the hands. Some watches didn’t feature the setting system in the back. This type would have required the removal of the crystal and bezel.

Stem Wind

Much like modern day wristwatches, later on versions of the pocket watch included the stem-wind. This was developed by Adrien Philippe in the mid 1840s and advertised by Patek Philippe in the 1850s. In some watches, the time might likewise be set by utilizing the stem. Another common method to set the time was utilizing a lever-set. This variation pulls out the lever, allowing the crown to be turned to set the time. When finished, the lever would be pushed back and the crystal and bezel would be closed. Lever-set time made unexpected time changes impossible.


Developments in the standardization of time by time zones and the requirement of accurate time measurements were important during the turn of the 20th century. The famous Ohio train wreck in 1891 took place due to two train engineers with watches 4 minutes out of sync.

World War I brought around a decline in pocket watch style and use. Soldiers required to have their hands complimentary so designers took to attaching a strap to a pocket watch to be endured the wrist. Since so many men were using these new styles of watches, also known as trench watches, they became popular and altered the watch world.

Men in the 1920’s likewise normally used three-piece fits which still enabled males to keep the pocket watch in the vest pocket. The 1970s and 1980s likewise brought around a resurgence of three-piece fits and a small number of pocket watches. Even today, there are still individuals who use pocket watches. The steampunk motion welcomes the arts and styles of the Victorian age, consisting of pocket watches. Some dapper gentlemen today are wearing the trendy three-piece fit and equipping with pocket watches.

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