Written by MasterClass
Last updated: Mar 17, 2022 • 3 min read
If you’re looking for a timeless accessory to wear to a formal event, look no further than the pocket watch. Whether you’re wearing a three-piece suit or jeans and a blazer, the pocket watch is an elegant and practical way to complete your outfit.
What Are Pocket Watches?
Before the introduction of the wristwatch, the pocket watch was the standard for portable timepieces. Though pocket watches fell out of popularity after World War II, some modern watchmakers continue to make pocket watches. Pocket watches are a classic formal wear accessory and can offer watch-wearers a sophisticated and fun option for completing their formal look.
4 Common Pocket Watch Styles
Pocket watches can be made using various metals and come in many different colors. There are four main pocket watch styles, each denoting to what extent the watch face is exposed.
- 1. Open face: An open-face pocket watch does not include a cover for concealing the watch face.
- 2. Hunter: Hunter-style pocket watches have a spring-loaded metal cover that can be opened to expose the watch face.
- 3. Half-hunter: As the name implies, the watch face of a half-hunter pocket watch is only partially concealed. A glass shield is encased in metal allowing for you to check the time without fully opening the cover. The cover can be opened to expose the entire watch face.
- 4. Double-hunter: Double-hunters have two covers—one for the front and one for the back.
4 Main Components of Pocket Watches
Though there are many different types of pocket watches, each one is known to have these main components.
- 1. Watch: The watch is the main part of the timepiece. It includes the clockwork, dial, and covers.
- 2. Fob: The fob is the ornament at the end of the chain that makes it easier to remove the pocket watch from its place.
- 3. Attachment: The attachment is a clip or bar on the chain that allows the chain to be kept in place in a pocket or on a lapel. There are three main styles of attachments: the Albert T-bar, the bolt ring, and the belt bar (aka slide chain). The Albert T-bar is usually paired with a suit jacket or waistcoat. A buttonhole in the garment keeps the Albert T-bar chain in place, allowing for the pocket watch to be stashed in a breast pocket or side pocket. Bolt rings are usually better for a more casual look—they attach to the belt loop or your trousers, jeans, or chinos. Finally, belt bar chains attach to your belt or the top of your pants, allowing you to keep the watch in the front pocket of your pants.
- 4. Chain: There are two main kinds of pocket watch chain styles: single Albert and double Albert. Single-Albert chains are designed for you to attach the end of the chain to your vest or waistcoat, allowing the chain to be seen on the outside of the garment. Double-Albert chains have an attachment in the middle of the chain (typically a T-bar) that attaches to the vest or waistcoat. The other end of the chain is concealed in a pocket on the other side of the garment, giving the appearance of two chains.
How to Wear a Pocket Watch
Whether you’re adhering to a formal dress code or wearing a pocket watch informally, learn how to style your pocket watch properly.
- 1. With a waistcoat: An Albert T-bar chain is an ideal choice for pairing with a waistcoat or vest. Attach one end of the chain to the pocket watch. Feed the other end of the chain through the buttonhole in your waistcoat. Place the pocket watch in your waistcoat pocket. The chain will be displayed on the outside of your outfit.
- 2. With a suit jacket: If you won’t be wearing a three-piece suit, there are still plenty of ways to wear a pocket watch. You can use a single-Albert or double-Albert chain with a T-Bar attachment. Feed the T-bar through the buttonhole in your jacket, and store the pocket watch in your jacket pocket. You could also use a belt bar; simply attach the chain to your pants or belt loop and store the watch in your trouser pocket.
- 3. With jeans: Pocket watches need not be relegated to fancy events only. If you won’t be wearing a vest or jacket, simply use a belt bar to attach your pocket watch to a belt loop, and keep the watch in your jeans pocket.
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