For information on the operation of pocket watches, please visit our Winding & Setting Instructions page.
Note: although the watches in the following photos are 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.
[click on any of the below photos for an enlarged view]
Pocket watches have been around for many centuries and the way in which they have been worn has changed with the times. Today, we see the most popular way of carrying a watch to be in the front pocket of jeans or pants.
To determine what size pocket watch will best suit you, we have a basic sizing chart that can give you an idea of what size watch will work with your clothing. As a rule though, the primary pockets on most men's jeans & pants will hold up to an 18S pocket watch, while most women's jeans & pants will hold up to an 12S pocket watch comfortably. If you are looking to carry the watch in the "coin pocket" however, we suggest a pocket watch no larger than 6S.
In order to protect your watch from extra wear we also encourage you to keep your watch in a pouch (cloth or leather), within your pocket. This is not a necessity but we've seen that doing so will help to reduce scratches and nicks on the case as well as preserving the finish if you have a gold-filled model. All watches purchased from PM Time Service come in a velvet pouch.
Another common way to carry your pocket watch is via the front pocket of your vest. These pockets tend to be a bit smaller than found on the jeans & pants pockets, and we suggest a watch no larger than 16S.
As a rule of thumb, on an average-build male when worn with a vest, we suggest straight or Albert style chains 10" or shorter for heights under 5'8", 10" to 14" for heights 5'8" to 6'2" and 14" or longer for heights over 6'2". For Double Albert chain styles, we suggest 20" or shorter for heights under 5'8", 18" to 30" for heights 5'8" to 6'2" and 24" or longer for heights over 6'2".
Leather pouches are another alternative (or complementary) way to carry your pocket watch. Wearing a pocket watch in a leather pouch is gentler on the watch than keeping it in a pocket with keys, coins, or other items. The photo below shows the pocket watch with its bow out; in this manner, the watch may also be worn with a chain attached. Our leather watch pouches feature a rear loop to slide over a belt, and fit pocket watches 16-size or smaller.
In addition to the above styles of carrying a pocket watch, women also have a few more options on how to present their watches. Today we see many women adapting Albert and Double Albert style chains into necklaces, using fobs, lockets, and other jewelry items on the "drops" as pendants. Additionally, there are the traditional slide chains and lapel pins that still offer a classic jewelry presentation option.
The slide chain is one of the most commonly seen methods for a woman to wear her pocket watch. Different configurations of the chain allow for multiple styles and the watch then acts as a pendant, allowing a quick glance by the wearer to the time. One drawback of this method of carrying a watch is that the watch is often swinging free and the potential to knock the watch against something is higher than when carried in your pocket. However, with care and attention to your surroundings this becomes easily avoidable.
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.
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.
The Albert & Double Albert style chains feature main chain "arms" (intended for connecting the pocket watch on men's styles) and additional shorter "drops" used for attaching another item, such as a charm, fob, or locket.
When these styles of chain are worn as a necklace, the drop can be used to support your pocket watch, or the watch can be attached to the main arm of the chain and then brought to wrap around your neck (or hang down the back).
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 Mens Pocket Watches
Vintage Ladies Pocket Watches
Pocket Watch Chains
Lapel Pins, Brooches & Chatelaines
Pocket Watch Chain Fobs
Jewelry & Watch Polishing Cloths
➔ View more Ladies' Styles For Watch Chains
➔ Return to the main "How To Wear" page