Pocket watch use peaked in the late 19th century as a wave of investment went into pocket watch design and manufacture by companies such as Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, and Illinois. The was because railroads needed highly accurate, precision timepieces so their locomotive engineers could maintain strict schedules, thus avoiding collisions.

Hunting case watches, popular during the 19th century, have a closed cover that flips open when you push a button. By 1900, the open face watch took over and hunting case watches became less commonplace.

The shafts on the wheels of pocket watches are made of steel, and the plates are made of different kinds of brass, most commonly nickel brass (also known as nickel plate). The gears are usually made of brass, but some were made of steel and gold was used on high-grade watches.

Antique pocket watch collectors care both about a watch's movement and its case. Cases were made of different metals like silver and gold. Many were gold-filled, with two thin sheets of gold on the outside around a thicker layer of brass.

Pocket watch cases were also made from a wide variety of silver colored material, with names like silveride, usually nickel based. While gold watch cases are appealing to collectors, today's value has more to do with what was appropriate to the watch at the time.

The quality of an antique pocket watch movement is related to the number of jewels it has and other factors. For a more detailed discussion of jewels see railroad pocket watches.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry Goldberg’s excellent collection of pocket watches, mostly American models from the late 1800s and early 189… [read review or visit site]

American Watch Company Web

American Watch Company Web

Tom McIntyre’s reference site on antique watches, especially those made by the American Watch Company (later know… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: Pocket Watches

Source: Google News

SF history on view at Old Mint expo
SFGate, February 28th

“Step right up,” said an actor dressed in a three-piece suit and a top hat and carrying a pocket watch. He said his name was 19th century hotelier and landowner James Lick, although it probably wasn't. “If we don't know where we've been as a people, it...Read more

Runcible circular smartphone recalls the pocket watch
Gizmag, February 27th

We've become accustomed to cell phones as noisy, rectangular devices filled with applications that are designed to assist us – but often distract us – in our daily lives. California-based startup Mohohm is looking to buck the trend with Runcible, a...Read more

This perfectly round 'heirloom' smartphone will never beep, alert, or ...
Business Insider, February 26th

A company in Berkeley, California, has designed a perfectly round smartphone that looks like a pocket watch, and will debut it next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. The Runcible will debut in Japan later this year, and will...Read more

Meet Runcible, the Pocket Watch Smartphone
ThaiVisa News, February 26th

The company, headed by past Apple and Sony employees, is introducing a new kind of smartphone. Instead of the rectangular shape that users are used to, the Runcible is round. A wood-back and a strong resemblance to a pocket watch is the signature of ...Read more

There's Smart Functionality Hiding Inside This Retro Pocket Watch
Gizmodo India, February 19th

After reports of their demise at the hands of smartphones were greatly exaggerated, watches are becoming more and more popular again, especially as they start to gain smarter functionality. That goes for pocket watches too, with the Tissot Pocket Touch ...Read more

Pocket watch from Countess of Rothes to Thomas Jones reveals Titanic tale
stv.tv, February 13th

A precious memento brought to an antiques valuation day at a Perthshire garden centre has revealed an unlikely friendship. Able Seaman Thomas Jones and Noelle, Countess of Rothes, 31, became friends for life after sharing their experience on lifeboat ...Read more

Century-old gold pocket watch part of Hobart Regatta history
ABC Online, February 12th

Mrs Freeman's father, Norman Lindsay Hopkins won the gold pocket watch for amateur rowers at the 1915 regatta. Only a few days after winning the race, he enlisted in the Australian Army and took part in the second landing at Gallipoli. "My father was...Read more

Taipei mayor ticked off over remarks about gift of pocket watch
Irish Times, February 2nd

Management consultants like to warn companies trying to do business in Asia about the dangers of cultural misunderstandings – handing over business cards, refusing to drink rocket-fuel grain alcohol, declining the offer of a snake sandwich, that kind...Read more