Pocket watches are big and can be quite a hassle when it comes to pulling them out of your pocket just see what time it is. People should just use wristwatches, which are way smaller and fit snugly around the wrist making it easy to glance at the clock. Despite the impracticality of pocket watches, however, there’s a certain panache to these timepieces that can’t be denied.
The pocket watch was popular from its development in the 1500s to World War I when wristwatches stole the show. Originally made to be worn as a pendant, these portable clocks quickly found their spot inside pockets when the waistcoat was introduced in 1675. To make it easy to slip and out of coats, the pocket watch adopted the smooth, round shape it has today, void of any sharp edges.
Why a Pocket Watch?
Just like with the invention of the mobile phone, pocket watches had a great impact as wearable technology. It allowed people to tell the time without having to listen to the hourly church bells. But beyond timekeeping, it had the cultural significance of punctuality. Pulling out your pocket watch was a sign that you were dependable.
Call it bourgeois, but pocket watches are a way in which people can express their reliability—and, if you ask me, there’s hardly a classier way to do it.
Here’s a Real High-Class Watch
If you’re looking to get a pocket watch, you probably won’t want to cut any corners on quality. That said, here are some great options for watches which will definitely give your time-telling some flair.
- Stuhrling Mechanical Pocket Watch
The first thing you’ll notice about this watch is the fact that the gears are visible from the outside, which I think is a really nice touch, even if it makes it a little harder to read. This one is very simplistic and isn’t very expensive, which is perfect for the casual guy. It also has a desk stand in case you want to, well, put it on your desk.
- Bulova Men’s Pocket Watch
This one strays a little from the norm with a leather strap instead of a typical chain. The face is also packed with numbers, which helps make up for its otherwise simplistic look. I really like this one; I think the numbers would make someone look a little smarter than they really are.
- Kronen Soehne Full Hunter Skeleton Pocket Watch
This watch also has the gears visible from the outside, but the design of the face is a lot more intricate. As the name suggests, it’s a full hunter watch, which means it has a spring-loaded cover. One small feature of this watch that impressed me was the inclusion of a smaller ring of numbers in the center, which makes it twice as easy to tell the time—you know, in case the gears get too distracting.
- Bulova Stainless Steen Pocket Watch
Another full hunter style watch, this clock makes checking the time just that much easier by putting the face in sideways. Now you can save your wrist that extra ninety degrees. This watch is completely silver-colored, so there’s no need to worry about color-coordination. It’s also got a tuning fork on the back if you’re into that kind of stuff.
- Charles-Hubert Paris Premium Mechanical Pocket Watch
The black face on this one gives it a more subtle look, which is balanced by a nice silver finish. Overall, this is a very basic pocket watch, but sometimes that’s good enough. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend this is if you’re an Olympic swimmer because it’s not water resistant.
Non-Traditional Watches – The Perfect Curveball
If having a traditional pocket watch in your coat isn’t a big enough statement for you, then these watches may be just what you’re looking for.
- Spovan Outdoor Waterproof Pocket Watch
This digital pocket watch has got it all from a barometer to a thermometer to being able to forecast the weather. Oh, and it can also tell the time. It’s a bit on the heavy side at 5.9 oz, but the many features it had is worth it. In case you like to go fishing, I’ll mention that it’s also able to track fishing water depth.
- Ziiiro Titan Pocket Watch
Do you know what this is? Would you believe me if I told you that this is a clock? Well you should. As it turns out, the short bars represent the minutes and the long bars represent the hours. This watch would be great if you have friends who always ask for the time; keep showing them this thing and they’ll eventually give up. The biggest downside to this watch is the fact that the LEDs are on the dimmer side, but it’s not like typical pocket watches are backlit anyways.
- Welder K43 Analog Pocket Watch
This watch is just screaming for an adventure with its sleek black casing and green highlights with a woven leather band to boot. The band is also connected to the bottom of the watch, which I suppose would make holding it a little more natural. What really makes this one stand out are its black matte surface and defined edges, which gives it a more inconspicuous demeanor.
Tips for Buying Pocket Watches – Invest in Quality
Whatever pocket watch you end up buying, there are some things you should keep in mind when doing so—just so you don’t accidentally clean your clock, if you know what I mean.
The Metal – The last thing you want to do is buy a watch made out of some cheap material like aluminum. Try to land on something made of a durable metal such as stainless steel, silver, or 14k gold (14k gold is hard and doesn’t tarnish easily).
The Crystal – Even if you have a pocket watch with a cover, you should still be wary of the quality of the crystal window protecting the inside. Mineral or Krysterna crystal are both durable and scratch resistant whereas sapphire is a lot less so.
Windup Duration – Make sure you won’t have to wind up your watch every couple of hours by checking how long the movement will last. A good watch should last between 24-36 hours. If you’re getting a battery-powered watch, then this won’t be a problem.
Warranty – Of all the things to get a warranty on, a pocket watch falls high on the list. With all the intricate clockwork going on behind the scenes, pocket watches are bound to have some malfunction. Make sure you’re covered by getting a watch with at least a couple years of warranty.
Your Style is Timeless – Well, I Guess Not
With a pocket watch in hand, all you need is a waistcoat and you’re all set. This is a style that’s truly timeless. And who knows? Yours might end up being an antique one day.
I like what an old Hamilton ad says: “[The pocket watch] leads its owner to form desirable habits of promptness and precision.” I think those are traits that every person should have. As for whether a pocket watch will inspire them, only time can tell.