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    

Very Rare Antique Breguet Of Paris Repeater Pocket Watch Movement Verge Fusee Calendar Pocket Watch, Sterling Silver. Th. Whitt London Spa/repGood Antique Moon Phase Pocket Watch Movement Early 18th English Fusee Verger Pocket Watch Silver Case Spencer 1787 #3Hamilton Railway Special 992b 16s Montgomery Dial No ReserveV.rare Complicated Solid 14k Gold Quarter Repeater Chronograph Pocket WatchEarly 18th English Fusee Verger Pocket Watch Silver Case Stroud 1726 #2Rare Antique Egyptian Pillar Shagreen Pair Cased Fusee Verge Pocket Watch A Vintage Pair Case By Johnson Of London Verge Fusee Pocket Watch Ref Cot346Fine French 18th Century Fusee Verger Onion Pocket Watch Silver Case #1 NrAntique Wwi 1914 Swiss Gun Metal Zenith Chronograph Pocket Watch 52mm 91gr 18th French Fusee Verger Pocket Watch Silver Case Courcault Challones #41917 Hamilton 952 Railroad 19 Jewel 20y Open Face Pocket Watch RunsFine Rolex Gold Plated 15 Jewel Top Wind Art Deco Period Gent's Pocket Watch.Antique 18k Gold Diamonds & Painted Enamel Pocket Pendant Lady Watch - RunningGood Antique Repeater Chronograph Pocket Watch Movement Wow! 16s Minty 1921 Elgin 23j Veritas Model 15 Grade 453! Very High Grade!!1900 Goliath Pocket Watch In Silver Fronted Stand In Working OrderAntique C1885 Swiss 14ct (14k) Solid Gold Key Wound And Set Fob / Pocket WatchAntique Hebdomas 8 Day Pocket Watch No ReserveMovado Switzerland Swiss Art Deco Leather Travel Pocket Watch Clever MechanismRare Antique Goliath Repeater Pocket Watch Solid 18k Gold Pocket Watch Sold By Aspreys. In A Borgel Case C1890Superb French Silver & Gold Winged Griffin Victorian Antique Pocket WatchWow! 16s 23j 950 Hamilton In Original Hamilton Case, Nr Mint Dial Near Perfect!Fine Quality 1952 Hamilton 992b 21j 6 Pos 10k Gold Filled Railroad Pocket Watch Antique Hebdomas 8 Day Pocket Watch Movement 1919 Antique English Hallmarked Solid Silver Double Albert Pocket Watch ChainGood Antique Chronograph Pocket Watch Antique Chain Fusee Verge Pocket Watch Movement & Dial Swan Ewart, EdinburghBall 435b 21 Jewel 16s Official Rr Standard Swiss Made Railroad Pocket WatchPatek Philippe 18k Gold & Diamond Pocket Watch 20j Wolf Teeth Snail Reg 46mm BoxBeautiful Illinois 23j Bunn Special Motor Barrel No Reserve! Gold Train!Antique Silver Pair Case Tarts London Verge Fusee Pocket Watch Nice Dial RestoreWaltham Crescent Street17jewels Pocket Watch Size18 Spiral MovementAntique Silver Pair Cased Fusee Pocket Watch No Reserve Antique Egyptian Pillar London Fusee Verge Pocket Watch Movement WorkingFine 9 Carat Gold Albert Watch Chain Pocket Watch Green Stone Jade Jadeite ?Vintage Patek Philippe Geneve Solid Gold 18k Case Antique Civil War Era 18k Gold Keywind Perrelet Ladies Large Pocket WatchAntique Silver Pocket Watch Ladies Fob Chatelaine Watch On Bow Brooch Circa 1880Fine Rare Old Victorian 18 Carat Gold Fob Watch / Pocket Watch Oria Brooch1919 Hamilton 21j 992 Locomotive Case Full Montgomery Dial!Fine C1907 Waltham Vanguard Gold Filled 23 Jewels 5 Pos Railroad Pocket WatchAntique Albert Pocket Watch Chain Fob Key In The Form Of Pistol Set With Compass18s 21jewel Hamilton 940 Railroad Montgomery Dial Rare Silver Case Exrtra Fine+Small Victorian Antique Silver Avitreus Pocket Watch Thermometer Maw MedicalRare Find Large Regulator Date Sweep Minuet Hand Verge Fusee Watch Doctors Stop1887 Antique & Ornate Illinois Hunting Case Pocket Watch - Excellent ConditionFine 1952 Hamilton 992b 21j 6 Pos 10k Gold Filled Railroad Dial Pocket Watch Large1899 Waltham Vanguard 21j Silver Gold Railroad Montgomery Dial Pocket Watch Rare Royal Flying Corps 30 Hour Mark V Nickel Cased Pocket Watch Good Antique Chronograph Pocket Watch Wow! 23j 950b Hamilton 23j Railway Special Dial Model 17 Case Org Bakelite Box!!Exceptional 24hr 1956 16s Hamilton 992b 21j Boc Gf Pocket Watch - RunsRare Quality Antique I.w.c Peerless Pocket Watch Movement WorkingTiffany & Co. Platinum 20 Jewel 44mm High Grade Pocket WatchRr Approved, 6 Adj, Sz 18 Appelton & Tracy Waltham Runs Strong/timed Sn 3739482Hamilton's Classic Case Model #2 Rr Case 16s 10k Ygf 992 992b 992e 950 950b 950eMake A 3x Signed Illinois Santa Fe Special 16s 25yr Case All Orig & Superlative!

Recent News: Pocket Watches

Source: Google News

Got Irony? Hate Mongers Levin And Hannity Complain Michelle Obama Doesn't ...
NewsHounds (blog), May 29th

So Booker T. Washington pawned his pocket watch to buy a kiln, and students used their bare hands to make bricks to build that dorm—and a few other buildings along the way. (Applause.) A few years later, when George Washington Carver first came here ...Read more

Watch Pad & Quill transform a hunk of wood into an elegant Apple Watch stand
Macworld, May 28th

To design a charging stand for the timepiece of the future, Brian Holmes looked to the past. A few years ago, his grandmother gave him an old pocket watch that had once belonged to his long-deceased grandfather. He needed a way to show off the...Read more

iPhone now 'a pocket watch,' says Apple Watch honcho
CNET, May 27th

Apple Watch head Jess Williams, right, says the company has sold "a lot" of units, "but not enough." Asa Mathat for Recode. Don't think of Apple's iPhone as the end-all-be-all device of the future. Instead, consider it your next pocket watch. That, at...Read more

Wisconsin man looking for owner of Elgin-made watch found in 1961
Chicago Tribune, May 27th

Do you have parents, grandparents or great-grandparents with the initials R.B. and E.L.B.?. Might they have lost a gold-plated Elgin pocket watch in San Diego, Calif. more than half a century ago? Did one of them have a birthday or a wedding...Read more

Introducing The Bovet Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar
Haute Time, May 26th

The other option is getting a pocket watch that also functions as a wristwatch. Much fewer brands have that option, even though some, such as Urwerk, have been contacted directly by clients to build it for them. If it is becoming clearer, this trend...Read more

Clockwork Interview: Pocket Watch Full of Dreams
GamingBolt, May 25th

Appsquare's Clockwork may feature a premise you're used to several times over – using clones in a “Record, Repeat” fashion, for instance – but it's realized in an intriguing new world. The game appears vibrant but with telltale blues standing out in...Read more

Laura Clark is sharing her life story in TATTOOS
Daily Mail, May 16th

Laura started her tattoo collection as soon as she turned 18, starting with a few smaller designs. When she decided to step it up a notch and get a much larger thigh piece she said she wanted it to convey and important message about strength...Read more

Times Insider | 1914 | The Movie Clock, No Bigger Than a Pocket Watch
New York Times, May 1st

David W. Dunlap is a Metro reporter and writes the Building Blocks column. He has worked at The Times for 40 years. Readers — especially those who do not or cannot use online databases — were understandably upset by the recent elimination of the ...Read more