Now that we carry a little computer in our pockets, we don’t have much use for the vintage pocket watch. However, they are a very cool collector’s item with a rich history. Whatever has brought you to searching for a vintage pocket watch, they are a great find for the history buff or vintage item collector.
Pocket Watch History
Vintage pocket watches were developed during the 16th century and were as much functional as they were a fashion statement. They were geared towards men and became part of the ensemble. Pocket watches and other portable watches were only able to be produced with the invention of the main spring. Before that, time telling devices relied on weight in order to function, so they were unable to be portable.
German inventor Peter Henlein invented a way for clocks to not rely on weight, and the first version of portable clocks were worn around the neck. It wasn’t until 1675 that vintage pocket watches came into fashion. They were a status symbol of luxury and were very expensive. Essentially, having a pocket watch meant you were a big deal.
Having a vintage pocket watch in America could also mean you worked on the railroad. The watches were used to time train schedules to keep collisions from happening. Around the time of World War 1, the era of the vintage pocket watch died, and wrist watches became mainstream.
Vintage Pocket Watch Styles
When you’re looking for a vintage pocket watch, there are a couple styles to choose from. The casing will generally be either metal, silver or gold for all three styles.
Open Face: This one is self-explanatory. There is no cover over the watch glass, so be careful! It can shatter at any moment.
Hunter Case: If you are looking for a vintage pocket watch with a cover for the front of the watch, this is the style you should look for. It has a cover that closes to protect the face.
Sidewinder: The sidewinder vintage pocket watch is set up a little differently than the other two styles. The winder for the clock is going to be at the 3:00 mark instead of at the top 12:00 mark. The vintage pocket watch operated just as the others do, it is just a different style.
What to Look For
Since we are talking vintage pocket watches, they are obviously going to be old. So, there are some things to look for when you are on the hunt for the perfect piece. The most obvious question to ask should be, does the vintage pocket watch work? If it works, great. Next thing to ask about is rust. This should be something you can figure out by looking at pictures of the vintage pocket watch. Rust is something you will want to avoid since the damage is already starting to happen, if you can, choose one that has not begun to rust, and find one that has been well cared for.
You may run into chips and scratches which is to be expected with vintage pocket watches. If you’re buying from a dealer, ask them what kind of adjustments have been made to the watch for it to continue working to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
How Much is it Going to Cost?
The question of cost all depends on what you are looking for in a vintage pocket watch. If you are on the hunt for a gold watch in pristine condition, it’s going to cost you more than a metal watch with dings and scratches. So, if you are looking online somewhere like eBay, there are filters and many watches to sift through. Depending on if the watch has been serviced or not will affect the price. There are vintage pocket watches listed for as low as $50 all the way up to $400. The average price is about $150.
If you are looking for something very nice, you may want to find a reputable dealer that has a shop you can go to so you can see the vintage pocket watch in person before you buy. A vintage pocket watch is a very cool item to own and shop for.