How to Wear a Pocket Watch

A guide to buying and selling an antique pocket watch

First invented in Germany in the early 1500s, pocket watches grew in popularity all across Europe throughout the 16thCentury


First invented in Germany in the early 1500s, pocket watches grew in popularity all across Europe throughout the 16thCentury, with both men and women wearing them. The round shape that we are all familiar with was introduced in the 17th Century, when the time pieces began being kept in men’s pockets, rather than as pendants, with the round shape being far less likely to damage the inside of a pocket than a piece with sharp edges. Pocket watches remained popular until after World War I, where the more practical Wristwatch became the standard timepiece of choice.


There are many reasons people might want to buy a pocket watch today. Nostalgia surely plays a big part in the resurgence of pocket watches, but collectors and admirers of beautiful jewellery will also take particular interest in a specific watch’s history, as well as the quality of metal and any intricate detailing on the watch. The fact that a beautiful antique also has a function in your day-to-day life also makes a pocket watch a particularly interesting investment.


An 18ct gold cased minute repeater chronograph double hunter pocket watch. Sold at Dawsons for £4,100

Selling your antique pocket watch is now easier than ever 

As with any antique, we would advise that you take great care where you choose to sell your pocket watch. Here at Dawsons, we understand that your watch could be a family heirloom with great sentimental value. It can be difficult to part with certain antiques, even if you have decided it is the right thing to do. Our team will always ensure you are given the best possible advice, in order to achieve the result you desire.


It is important that any valuation is provided by a skilled and knowledgeable professional. Dawsons’ team of Valuers have years of experience and can provide you with an authoritative appraisal of your pocket watch – giving you complete piece of mind.


Should you prefer, we are happy to provide you with a valuation from the comfort of your own home. Simply submit photographs and information relating to your pocket watch using our online valuation form here


Our valuations are complimentary, costing you absolutely nothing. We analyse all submissions and if we feel we can sell your item, we will be happy to provide an auction price estimate.


A Georgian silver pair-cased pocket watch by Kipling of London. Sold at Dawsons for £2,000


Caring for your pocket watch

There are many types of pocket watch, which is important when it comes to caring for your watch. Make sure to use a dry cloth when you wipe your watch, as moisture can damage the metal and clockwork interiors.


The material of your watch will determine how often it needs to be polished, but it is important that you do polish your watch at least once in a while, otherwise it can become tarnished and lose its shine. When buying at Dawsons, you can make sure you know exactly what kind of materials your pocket watch is made from and therefore how to polish and look after it.

A French Aiguilles pocket watch. Sold at Dawsons for £420

Wearing a pocket watch

There are many ways to wear a pocket watch, with most ways normally involving wearing the watch on the end of a chain, known as a fob.

The type of fob affects how the watch should be worn. For example, a ‘T-Bar’ fob means that the watch will be worn across a waistcoat, giving the look of two chains, with the watch being kept in one pocket and the end of the fob in the other. However, a shorter fob with a belt ring would mean that the watch can be kept in trousers, rather than a waistcoat.

If you decide to wear your pocket watch in a waistcoat, it is worth noting that should you be right-handed, you would traditionally wear your watch in your left-hand pocket.

Whilst pocket watches were worn as part of formal attire, either in a waistcoat, tucked into smart trousers, or as a pendant, there has been a consistently growing trend of wearing casual clothes with more formal accessories. Chains are also very popular in men’s fashion at the moment. A pocket watch is a great way of dressing up an outfit to fit both these purposes. Indeed, owning an antique pocket watch is not only a fashion statement, but also a fun way to display your interest in history and antique jewellery.


A mid Victorian 18 carat gold open faced pocket watchA mid Victorian 18 carat gold open faced pocket watch. Sold at Dawsons £1,300.


When You’re Ready to Sell your Antique Pocket Watch 

If you’ve made it this far, then like us, you probably have an interest in (or passion for) antique pocket watches. You can view some of the wonderful antique pocket watches that have been sold at auction with Dawsons here


Are you thinking of selling your antique pocket watch? The expert team of Valuers at Dawsons are always happy to help, and would love to hear from you:

0207 431 9445  /