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

Patek Philippe Ref. 658 Black Dial Pocket Watch Fetches $527000 at Sotheby's
Forbes, December 14th

The top lot of the sale was a Patek Philippe Reference 658 pocket watch that sold for $527,000, well above its high estimate. Made in 1937, it features a yellow gold open-faced perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph minute repeater with moon...Read more

The Kisai Vortex Pocket Watch mixes old and new in the best way possible
Coolest Gadgets, December 10th

The Kisai Vortex Pocket Watch is futuristic take on a classic timepiece. It has a touchscreen display on which it can show you the time (in two different ways), date, or be your alarm. Of course, any watch from TokyoFlash is going to be a bit difficult...Read more

Futuristic Pocket Watch Packs in a Touchscreen
Chip Chick, December 9th

What at first blush looks like the ultimate tool for the 22nd century hypnotist is actually a new pocket watch from Kisai—yes, that's right, you actually can tell time with this thing, despite all appearances. The Kisai Vortex Pocket Watch combines a...Read more

Tokyoflash Kisai Vortex Pocket Watch (Video)
Geeky Gadgets, December 8th

Some of our readers will remember the Tokyoflash Kisai Vortex watch that we feature on Geeky Gadgets a few months ago, and now the guys from Tokyoflash have launched a new version of the watch in the form of a pocket watch. The Tokyoflash Kisai ...Read more

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy'
Washington Times, December 2nd

But if you share with me this addiction for forbidden chocolates of the soul, get a copy of “The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy,” settle in by the fire and prepare for a laugh-out-loud return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Be...Read more

Gordner: Shinola Misses the Point With Marketing of Special Pocket Watch
Deadline Detroit, November 30th

Jillian Gordner attends Groves High School and is the author of a satirical blog, Current Event Comedy. By Jillian Gordner. Detroit became home to the newest, Made-in-America brand Shinola in 2013 when Tom Kartsotis, founder of Fossil, revived the name ...Read more

The return of the pocket watch
Classic Driver, November 26th

In the 19th Century, the pocket watch was considered a status symbol as only the wealthiest could afford one. With the advent of the wristwatch after WWI, it became unfashionable to carry a clock in your waistcoat pocket – but recently, the pocket...Read more

Time in your pocket
The Week, November 24th

In 1925, American banker and renowned watch collector Henry Graves Jr commissioned Patek Philippe to create an exquisite gold pocket watch. The pocket watch, considered one of the most complicated timepieces of the century, was delivered to Graves ...Read more