[click on any of the below photos for an enlarged view]
Once advances in technology around the 1850's allowed less expensive chains to be made, slide chains became the most common method utilized by women to wear their pocket watches. Although not as safe for the watch as a ribbon-style chain (as the necklace allowed the watch to swing), the slide chain is generally thought of as a very attractive form of jewelry. It was also common to see the slide chain's watch tucked into the pocket of a riding vest.
The slide on the chain allows multiple configurations; these photos show a slide chain necklace being worn long, shortened with the slider positioned to one side, and shortened with the slider centered. Current trends still hold the slide chain necklace as a very popular women's style, along with ribbon-style chains and lapel pins, for wearing and displaying a pocket watch.
As a rule of thumb on an average-build woman, if you want to wear the chain long and have the swivel reach your waistline, we recommend chains 24" or shorter for heights under 5'4", 22" to 26" for heights 5'4" to 5'8" and 24" or longer for heights over 5'8". If you are looking to wear the chain double-wrapped, we suggest a chain between 24" and 28" in overall length for the swivel to rest above your bustline, and a chain between 26" and 30" in overall length for the swivel to rest at your bustline.
With both our vintage and modern slide chains, we include small lengths of cork to help you position your slide exactly as you'd like the chain to hang. In many cases, they won't be needed, but once in a while fashion and gravity do not cooperate! The cork will allow you to position the slide without damage, and will be secure and durable enough to last for many years. We will include a few pieces with each order so you can position your slide exactly where you want it to create the perfect look.
To use the cork pieces, position the slide where you'd like it to rest, then move it upwards the length of the slide a few millimeters. Grip a piece of the cork tight with the chain directly under the slide and then thread the cork into the slide hole while you push the slide back down into position. Once the cork is properly seated, you should be able to move the slide along the chain short distances to re-position it, wear in different styles, etc. but we do suggest you try to position the slide as close to where you'd like it to rest first to save wear and tear on the cork.
Lapel pins were an early form of watch display for women (believed to originate before the 1850's) and were still used often throughout the 1950's. The back side of each pin features a small clasp or hook that is connected to the bow of the watch.
Because the watch is attached to the wearer's clothing, lapel pins work best when paired with smaller and lighter watches (to avoid any sagging of material). Compared with use as a necklace pendant, attachment by pin to a woman's lapel or blouse is generally safer for the watch, as it is held closer to the body.
Lapel pins may also be used as pendants on necklaces, as seen in the second photo below. Conversion of lapel pins to necklace pendants is a relatively modern arrangement, beginning in the 1960's, following the trend for women to wear broaches less often.
One style of lapel pin will have a drop on the lower part of the pin which ends with a small swivel clasp that securely will attach your watch (or other decorative item) to the pin and also will allow the watch to rotate. These swivels are findings that are traditionally used with pocket watches on most vintage pocket watch chains and are ideal on the lapel pins for a secure connector as well. As opposed to many of the more modern styles of clasp, these do not have any small latches to pull back but rather part of the oval "clip" section depresses into the finding, allowing you to slip in your pocket watch bow or fob lanyard. Once released, it has a small internal spring that closes the oval loop back up and prevents whatever is clipped from accidentally coming out.
Another method of attaching the watch to your lapel pin is via a hook that will be attached to the back of your pin. In most cases, you will need to attach the watch to the pin before putting on the pin. The design of this style of pin will use your own clothing to keep the watch secured on the pin.
Ribbon-style, or "fob" style chains, are the oldest of the pocket watch chain styles. Ribbon-style chains can be for men or women, and can be attached to clothing, by a spring ring or belt clip for example, or remain unattached, as they were when they were first introduced. The ribbon section of the chain may be made from a variety of materials; three of the most commonly found are fabric, metallic mesh, and metallic panels.
Among the various types and materials of ribbon watch chains, the "panel" style has become the most popular women's option, as they are available in smaller dimensions and often are not designed to attach to any articles of clothing. The panel style of chains is characterized by a series of segments that are hinged together, producing a flexible but sturdy ribbon chain to which a pocket watch can be attached. The majority of these panel-style chains are made of some type of metal, although other materials are occasionally seen as well.
Note: although the watch in the following photo is shown half-out-of-pocket, this is merely to illustrate the attachment of the chain to the watch. Pocket watches should be worn entirely inside the pocket, ideally within a velvet or thin leather pouch for protection.
Pocket watch chains have also found use among women; during the 1990's, more ladies began to wear Albert and Double Albert style chains as necklaces, using fobs, lockets, and other jewelry items on the "drops" as pendants. The chain is fastened around the wearer's neck by connecting the swivel clasp (normally used to attach a watch or fob) to another section of the chain. In general, chains worn in this manner should be at least 15" long for a short choker style, and 16" or longer for a looser necklace. Watches worn as pendants for this style should be of a small size, and are usually worn as much for decoration as for their use in keeping time.
The Albert style chain (or "Single Albert") features one main chain "arm" (intended for connecting the pocket watch on men's styles) and an additional shorter "drop" used for attaching another item, such as a charm, fob, or locket. This drop may be connected at different points along the main chain (though always near the spring ring or t-bar) and may vary in length, depending on the individual style of chain.
The first photo below presents a locket on the chain's drop, and a small pocket knife attached to the chain's spring ring. The second photo below shows a locket on the drop, and the t-bar featured as part of the jewelry.
The Double Albert style chain features two main chain "arms" (intended for connecting the pocket watch on men's styles) and an additional shorter "drop" used for attaching another item, such as a charm, fob, or locket.
In the three photos below, showing the use of a Double Albert chain as a necklace, the primary spring ring (which, for men's styles, would be used to connect the chain to the wearer's garment) is employed to attach a locket, while a small pocket knife has been attached to the chain's drop. As the pictures demonstrate, Double Albert chains used as necklaces may be worn short, long, or with an additional item (in this case, a small pocket watch) connected to one of the chain's swivel clasps as a pendant.
The three photos below show a Double Albert chain used as a necklace with the chain's t-bar (which, for men's styles, would be used to attach the chain to the wearer's garment) featured as its own component of the jewelry. As the pictures demonstrate, Double Albert chains used as necklaces may be worn short, long, or with an additional item (in this case, a small pocket watch) connected to one of the chain's swivel clasps as a pendant.
Regardless of the method used to attach the chain to the wearer's vest, shirt, or pants, the bow of the pocket watch is attached to the chain with a small swivel clasp that allows the watch to rotate and keeps the chain from twisting. These swivels are findings that are traditionally used with pocket watches on most vintage pocket watch chains. As opposed to many of the more modern styles, these do not have any small latches to pull back but rather part of the oval "clip" section depresses into the finding, allowing you to slip in your pocket watch bow or fob lanyard. Once released, it has a small internal spring that closes the oval loop back up and prevents whatever is clipped from accidentally coming out without your intervention.
A pocket watch can be worn on either side of the body depending on the preference of the wearer. For instance, many right-handed wearers may have their pocket watch on the left side of the body; this allows for winding with the right hand while holding the watch with the left. However, a right-handed wearer may instead choose to keep the watch on the right for ease-of-use when pulling and returning the watch to a pocket as well.
We are also in the process of collecting photos of pocket watch chain fashion and ideas, which can be easily viewed on the following Pinterest Board. Please let us know if you have any photos to contribute!
Related Products:Vintage Ladies Pocket Watches
Vintage Watch Chains - Ladies' Styles
Modern Watch Chains - Ladies' Styles
Lapel Pins, Brooches & Chatelaines
Pocket Watch Chains
Pocket Watch Chain Fobs
Jewelry & Watch Polishing Cloths
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