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]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

18k Antique $20 Liberty Head Gold Coin 17j Benrus Pocket Watch, PerfectHebdomas Visible Balance 8 Days Hi-grade Pocket Watch Movement Spiral BreguetIwc International Watch Co Regulateur Swiss Best Quality Pocket Watch MovementIwc International Watch Co High Quality Chronometer Pocket Watch Movement - 1889Solid Sterling Silver Pair Case Verge Fusee Pocket Watch London 1826.A.golay Geneve Quarter Repeater Pocket Watch Movement Patek Quality Superb Sterling Silver Quarter Repeating Gentlemans Pocket Watch Glasgow 1938.Vintage Cortebert Digital Pallweber Silver Pocket Watch Jump Hour C 1880 Gents Antique Silver Fusee Movement Pocket Watch London 1817Hamilton 4992b Military Gct Wwii Pilot Navigator Pocket Watch 22 Jewel Movement Vintage Hamilton Electric 505 Asymmetrical 14k Solid Gold Men's Dress Watch E47French Georgian Verge Fusee Silver Consular Cased Pocket Watch By Lereverend.Patek Philippe & Cie Chronometro Gondolo Sw/ps Antique 18k Gold Pocket WatchRare Antique Ww1 Silver Military Pocket Watch - Royal Observatory GreenwichUnique A. Lange & SAntique London Import Marks 1917 Sterling Silver Hebdomas 8 Days Pocket WatchBall Hamilton C. 1906 Grade 999 21 Jewel 16 Size Pocket Watch 20 Year Gf CaseSuper Rare Vintage 8 Days Hebdomas Pocket Watch With Diamond Dial & A Long ChainRare 8-day Vickery Vintage Car Dashboard Upside Down Goliath Pocket WatchVery Rare Hamilton Electric Altair Gold Filled **no Reserve**Antique Masonic Dial South Bend Keyless Pocket Watch In Dueber Gold Filled CaseAntique Gunmetal Minute Repeater Repeating Repetition Pocket Watch - ExcellentHy Moser & Cie Antique 14k Tricolor Gold Large Hunter's Case Pocket WatchSysteme Glashutte Uhrenfabrik Men's Germany Higest Grade Pocket Watch MovementMen’s Waltham 1920 Pocket Watch MovementAntique Masonic Cased Hampden Keyless Pocket Watch In Gold Filled Hunter CaseAntique Silver Juvet Chinese Market Pocket WatchWaltham Canadian Pacific Railway 18 Size 17 Jewel Pocket WatchSolid Sterling Silver English Fusee Lever Pocket Watch 1869 Cleaned & WorkingHamilton Railway Special 23j 950b 16s Railroad Pocket Watch W/ Montgomery DialAntique Vintage C1870 Solid 18k Gold Pocket Watch Gold Dial Enamel & Engraving Antique Cyma Fully Hallmarked 9ct Gold Glasgow 1911 Slim Dress Pocket WatchWaltham Mass. Men's Usa 15 Jewels 16s Chronometer Pocket Watch Movement - 1893Antique Hamilton 992 16s 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket Watch. Beautiful WatchAntique German Verge Fusee Key Wind Pocket Watch. Silver Case,. Made 1790. RunsBall-illinois 23j Official Rr Standard Grade 810 16s Model 11 Railroad 23 JewelIllinois Watch Co Springfield Usa 16 Size 17 Jewels Pocket Watch Movement - 1907D Gruen Son Assmann 18 Jewel 46mm High Grade Pocket Watch MvtLongines Flagship 18k Gold Fancy Elegant Mechanical Pocket WatchGeorgian Miniature Pocket Watch Sampler Love Token Embroidery C1790 Watch PaperLongines Watch Co Men's Swiss High Quality Pocket Watch Movement Caliber 19.74nOriginal Working Vintage Wwii Swiss Pocket Watch Gstp Crows Foot Broad ArrowAntique Waltham Canadian Railway 18s Two Tone High Grade Rail Road Pocket Watch.Antique Hamilton 940 18s 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket Watch. Beautiful Watch. 1918Nice 1865/66 Vintage Coin Silver Waltham Boston Wm Ellery 11j Keywind HunterAntique 14k Tricolor Gold Porcelain Dial Floral Hunter's Case Pocket WatchElgin Nautical Ship/deck Watch (chronometer) W/both Boxes 21j Up/down Indic.Antique Hamilton Canadian Railway Special 992b 16s Pocket Watch. Made 1943Beautiful Antique J.g.graves Hallmarked Silver Pocket Watch Dated 1905Canadian Pacific Railway 18 Size Model 1892 Waltham Pocket WatchTiffany & Co. Signed Sterling Silver Pocket WatchAntique Gold Cased Pocket Watch Fob Seal Carved Intaglio Coat Of Arms ArmorialOriginal Vintage Military Wwi Ww1 W Ehrhardt Pocket Watch D11202 ArmyAntique 18ct Gold Swiss Fob Pocket Watch, Stauffer,son & Co, Cxde Fonds C1860Awesome Man Watch With 1900 American Hamilton 941 (940) Pocket Watch MovementVintage Sterling Silver Omega Pocket Watch No ReserveVintage Swiss Made Omega Gold Plated Pocket Watch. Masonic Dial. WorkingUnusual Vintage 14k Gold Waltham Pocket Watch For Lady On Chain, Hunting Case1927 Waltham Vanguard 23j 16s Railroad Up/down Wind Indicator Pocket Watch E47Massive 18s Elgin Fancy Dial Antique Hunter Mens Pocket Watch

Recent News: Pocket Watches

Source: Google News

Hugh Laurie Narrates 'Alice in Wonderland'-Themed Ad for EasyJet
Creativity, September 16th

Hugh "Dr. House" Laurie provides the voiceover for the spot, which shows the rabbit (equipped, of course, with his famous pocket watch) making his way through an airport after reading an important-looking financial newspaper. The campaign represents...Read more

Why Apple Watch may not be the overnight success Cupertino is used to
Cult of Mac, September 16th

McCrossen says out that despite the first wrist watches appearing in the 1880s, they didn't actually outstrip sales of the pocket watch until 1927, with many in polite society considering it rude to continually refer to a person's wrist: something that...Read more

Remembering the Navy Yard shooting victims 1 year later
W*USA 9, September 15th

When Allen retired, Kohler picked his gift - a gold pocket watch with the inscription, "From your friends in Lockheed Martin to help you putt into the future." Kohler lived on the water with his wife, Michelle, an employee at the Naval Air Station...Read more

The Museum Pocket Watch
World Tempus (press release), September 15th

The La-Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand has risen to a new mechanical challenge, creating a pocket watch bearing the signature "Jaquet Droz" and entirely conceived around an original 18th century movement, the external parts of which have been lost to time...Read more

Apple Watch and the iPhone 6: Things to Ponder
Huffington Post, September 15th

The Apple Watch is not a pocket watch strapped to your wrist. It was not designed to tell time any more than the iPhone was designed to make calls. What exactly is an Apple Watch? No one - not even Apple - knows. It may be a gateway to health and...Read more

A tiger-shaped brooch and bracelet made by Cartier and once owned...
Mynextfone, September 15th

Geneva's November auction season will also feature a Patek Philippe pocket watch that holds the record for the most expensive timepiece sold at auction. Sotheby's, which is handling the sale, estimates the Henry Graves Supercomplication is worth more ...Read more

'Pushing Daisies' recap: Men in plights
Entertainment Weekly, September 12th

And the situation is even more complicated than Ned can guess: Dwight has already dug up Chuck's coffin to retrieve her father's pocket watch, only to find it missing both the watch and the dead girl. He doesn't know Chuck's face yet, but he knows that...Read more

Rory McIlroy Hits Golf Ball Right Into Spectator's Pocket—Watch Now!
E! Online, September 12th

Rory McIlroy has some aim! Actually, the 25-year-old golfer probably didn't intend for his tee shot to wind up in a spectator's pocket Friday in Atlanta, but that's exactly what happened in the second round of the 2014 Tour Championship by Coca-Cola. A...Read more