Pocket watches remind us of a glorious era of watchmaking. Since the 1600s, these watches have been an integral part of fashion until wrist-watches became popular towards the end of World War 1. Within the 19th century these watches enjoyed glory and patronage. The era heralded a number of watchmakers such as LeCoultre, Moser & Cie, Ulysse Nardin, Minerva, Heuer, IWC, and many others that were established during this period. The quality of pocket watches became much better, as did the craftsmanship in the decorative features of the watch.
With their beautiful chains and decorative bodies, these watches evoke an aura of mystery and nostalgic style. Long before people strapped watches to their wrist, they clipped them to chains. Obviously, as the art of watchmaking progressed it was natural for these little timepieces to be decorative. This feature was not restricted to the timepiece alone. The chains also provided a lot of scope for creativity in design. Watchmakers thus experimented with the shape of the watches, the chains and the covers for the watches
(the flaps) as well.
The open faced ones are where the case lacks a metal cover and the hunter-case ones have a lid that covers the dial. The full-hunter style pocket watch has a hinged covering that is lifted to check the time while the half-hunter pocket watch style has a hole or crystal in the covering for a person to see the time without opening the cover.
Double-Hunter Pocket Watch has a front covering like the half-hunter but also a back covering which enables him to open it and see the movement. The Double Half-Hunter Style has all the features of the half-hunter and the double-hunter pocket watch along with a covered opening in the front, which allows a person to see the hands as well as inner workings. Not surprisingly, this type is very popular with collectors.
The use of pocket watches today has declined as far as regular and professional use is concerned. But, of course, for collectors, the allure of the pocket watch remains. With steampunk, a subcultural movement, pocket watches have somewhat regained a bit of their popularity.
They are more of a style statement; heirlooms that can be passed down to generations. People choose fancy and decorative fobs, chains, belts and loops to attach to their pocket watches. We say an expression of style that is probably at it’s fashionable best!
(Featured here Panerai PAM 446)