Whether it’s a family heirloom or a brand new Swiss timepiece, pocket watches have always been a mark of class and style. They can transport your look back to the heights of the ‘20s, bring class to your outfit, or complete your three-piece suit. Read more on how to wear a pocket watch with Mondaine, manufacturers of the Official Swiss Railways watches.
The traditional way to wear a pocket watch is sometimes known as the classic method. The pocket watch is placed in your waistcoat pocket and the chain is passed through a button hole. The end of the chain, or the fob, is tucked into your other waistcoat pocket.
However, there are variations of this technique according to the clothing you are wearing or your style of pocket watch chain.
Before learning alternate ways to wear a pocket watch, it’s important to have an understanding of watch styles. This impacts the way you attach and wear the item.
Pocket Watch Styles
Pocket watches come in a variety of shapes, styles and designs, which can change the way you wear them. Understanding this helps you to choose the right pocket watch for your look.
Pocket watches can be made from a variety of different metals, commonly stainless steel, silver, or gold. When choosing your pocket watch, you might want to consider which colour would be most likely to suit your style taste and the outfits with which you are likely to wear it.
Pocket watches come in four different styles. These describe the extent to which the watch face is exposed.
- Open - An open pocket watch has no cover over the watch face.
- Hunter - The watch face is enclosed by a metal cover. This can be opened to reveal the time.
- Half-Hunter - The watch face is partially enclosed. It has a metal cover, but there is a glass window that allows the time to be seen. You can still pop the cover open to see the full watch face.
- Double-Hunter - The watch has a cover on both the front and the back, both of which can be opened.
Traditionally, the style of the pocket watch won’t impact the way it’s worn, but with more ways than ever to don a pocket watch, it’s becoming a greater consideration.
For example, if you're wearing a costume piece, you might want to choose an open watch that can hang from your outfit and be seen. If you’re wearing a pocket watch with a traditional three-piece suit, you might want to opt for a hunter to protect the watch face from damage while it’s in your pocket.
Parts Of A Pocket Watch
Learning how to wear a pocket watch is easier with an understanding of the different parts and their names.
The watch itself contains the clockwork and the dial, as well as any metal covers. This is the main timepiece that forms the pocket watch.
A fob is a small ornament on the other end of the pocket watch chain. These can sometimes be extremely ornate, as was the fashion in the Victorian period, or can be very simple. Their purpose was to make the watch easier to pull out of a pocket.
Most pocket watch chains now have an attachment in place of the fob. This could be a T-bar or clip, for example, that helps to hold the pocket watch in place. There are a variety of fastenings available. T-bars are one of the most common, but belt rings are also available which attach to a trouser belt loop.
The chain is the part that connects the pocket watch to the fob or other attachment. They come in different styles which impact the way you wear the pocket watch.
This describes a chain which attaches to the vest or waistcoat by the end. It means there is a single chain over the outside of the outfit.
With a double albert, the chain attaches to the waistcoat or vest by the middle (usually a central T-bar) and the end of the chain is kept in a separate pocket. This results in the appearance of two chains across your waistcoat.
These elements alter the way a pocket watch is worn and impact your final look. If you are looking to buy a pocket watch, consider what style will suit you best according to how you want to wear it.
Wearing A Pocket Watch
There are many different ways to wear a pocket watch. Some of this comes down to your outfit and some is personal preference.
Left Or Right Pocket?
If you’re right-handed, the watch should go in your left pocket and if you’re left-handed in your right. This means you can draw it out while leaving your dominant hand free.
With a Waistcoat
Traditionally, pocket watches were almost always worn with waistcoats. While few people wear waistcoats as part of their everyday attire now, they still often make an appearance at weddings or other formal occasions.
With a waistcoat, you should go for the classic method, mentioned at the beginning of this article. Place the pocket watch in your waistcoat pocket, thread the chain through your buttonhole and tuck the end of the chain, or the fob, into the other pocket.
The decorative chain is left on show, while the watch is kept safe in your pocket.
A Double Albert
If you have a double albert style chain, place the pocket watch in your waistcoat pocket and attach the T-bar through a button hole, then place the end of the chain in your other waistcoat pocket, very similar to the classic style but you don’t need to thread the chain.
Think about matching the colour of your three-piece suit and the colour of your pocket watch. Warm hues, including soft browns, suit gold watches better, while greys and blues match better with steel or silver. If you have a black waistcoat, it’ll look great with either a gold or silver pocket watch.
With A Suit (Without A Waistcoat)
Waistcoats aren’t as common as they once were, so you might need to know how to wear a pocket watch with a suit that doesn’t have a waistcoat. This is ideal for formal occasions where you’re not wearing a three-piece.
Your pocket watch should sit in your suit pocket to keep it safe and accessible, but you can choose between the breast pocket or the front pocket.
Place the watch in your pocket and thread the chain through your middle suit buttonhole. If you have a T-bar, that will be enough to hold the chain in place. If you have a fob, you can place it in an internal pocket of your suit jacket or let it hang loosely, depending on its size and whether it feels secure. If you have a clip, fasten the end of the chain to your trouser loop or other appropriate and secure spot.
Thread the T-bar of your chain through the lapel button-hole then place the watch in your breast pocket. If you have alternative fastenings, still thread the chain through the button-hole, but then place the fob in your internal jacket pocket or attach the clip to an appropriate place, such as your shirt breast pocket.
If it’s a less of a formal occasion that requires neither a suit jacket nor a waistcoat, you can still wear a pocket watch with just a shirt. Attach the pocket watch to either a lower shirt buttonhole or your belt loop, depending on the fastening, then keep it in your trouser pocket.
You don’t need a formal occasion to wear a pocket watch. It can add a classy twist to a smart-casual outfit, and can even be paired well with jeans. .
It’ll depend on your style of pocket watch as to whether this look will work. It’s most effective with larger clock faces or more simple designs. If you have a pocket watch with a very small face or one that is particularly ornate, you might need to look at it more closely to see the time than the length of the chain allows. In this situation, you could consider getting a longer chain so you can still keep the watch in your jeans pocket and be able to read it without problems.
To wear a pocket watch with jeans, simply attach the end of the chain to your belt loop and tuck the watch into your jeans pocket.
Finishing The Style
The best way to wear a pocket watch with jeans is to emphasise the smart-casual style. Choose a darker shade of jeans like black, dark grey, or dark blue, with a straight or slim fit cut. Wear a pair of loafers and a shirt or blazer jacket. It’s the ultimate way to wear a pocket watch with jeans to achieve that perfect smart-casual look.
Alternate Ways To Wear A Pocket Watch
You can get creative when it comes to wearing a pocket watch with your outfit, but always remember to ensure it’s securely attached to an item of your clothing. Otherwise you risk losing the watch.
As A Necklace
Some people choose to wear a pocket watch as a necklace. This works best with smaller and lighter pocket watches. You could buy a cord or chain that’s designed to be worn around the neck and attach it to your watch.
If you’re wearing a pocket watch to decorate a costume outfit, you might want the watch to be on display, rather than in a pocket. Attach the end of the chain securely to your clothing, such as to a belt loop. Thread the chain through your buttonholes and rest the pocket watch on the outside of your clothing. Ensure it’s secure and comfortable.
Caring For Your Watch
Your watch will look only as good as you keep it! When learning how to wear a pocket watch, understanding how to take care of it is an essential element.
Winding Your Watch
Most pocket watches will be designed to be wound daily to keep the watch measuring time correctly.
Try to wind your watch either in the morning or evening every day as part of your routine. If it becomes a habit, you’re less likely to forget and your watch will continue to stay accurate.
Your watch is likely to pick up fingerprint marks or greasy smudges. Wipe it down using a lint-free cloth regularly - daily if possible. This will remove smudges and marks.
Ensure that you use a dry cloth to wipe down your watch. Moisture could damage the metal and the clockwork.
It will depend on your pocket watch metal as to how often it will need polishing, but this is important to prevent the watch from becoming tarnished and losing its shine.
Ensure you know what you watch is made from before buying a polish as these will be formulated differently for different kinds of metal. If you’re unsure, ask a jeweller.
If your watch has grooves and engravings, it could be helpful to use a cotton swab to polish these areas.
If you’re looking for a high quality Swiss pocket watch, check out Mondaine’s elegant stainless steel pocket watch, bearing the distinctive, minimalist Official Swiss Railways design.