01 August 2010
Gone by the Wayside: Pocket Watches
The above photo is of my great-great-grandfather's pocket watch. It is over one hundred years old and still works. What craftsmanship! What elegance! Quality like that can no longer be found. Yet watches like this have fallen into disuse.
These days it would be difficult to find someone who doesn't carry a mobile phone. Most mobile devices and even ipods have digital clocks built in. Why wear a watch? Well, we'll tell you. Watches have been a traditional mens accessories since their emergence in the 16th century. The watch is a symbol of manliness and class. For generations it was tradition for a man to pass on his watch to his son, and he to his. Pocket watches were often given, and sometimes still are, upon retirement as a reward for years of faithful service. They also became widespread by their use on railroads in the United States.
With such a history of masculine charm, who wouldn't want to carry a pocket watch? With the rise of excessively informal clothing came the decline of the waistcoat and with it, to some extent, the pocket watch. Before the 20th century, wrist watches were considered to be feminine and we reserved for women. It wasn't until WWI officers began wearing them for their convenient access that they became mainstream for men. However, even wristwatches are declining with the rise of mobile phones.
Pocket watches can be purchased in a variety of places, but if you want good quality, we recommend buying vintage watches at auctions or online.