Striking the balance between classic style and coming off like steampunk cosplay isn’t as difficult as you think. Understanding how to wear a men’s pocket watch will have you ready to start a new collection in no time.
Imagine finally not having to listen for church bells to know what time it is. Excitement must have been the feeling when the first pocket watch was pulled out of a pocket. The entire village in silent awe… and then a mad rush to the local shop to get one.
The pocket watch – or the world’s first wearable tech game changer – was first invented by Peter Henlein in Germany in 1510. The pocket watch shape that we know and love was honed during the 17th century with the introduction of waistcoats (thanks, Charles II). This round, flat shape could slide easily into a pocket and was void of sharp edges that would damage the fabric.
This was also when the term fob watch was coined. Fob comes from the low German dialect word ‘fuppe’ for a small pocket. Nowadays, fob refers to the pocket that a watch slides into, the chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch, or the actual watch hanging off the chain.
For most pocket watch connoisseurs, watch fob refers to the chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch and is usually shorter than a watch chain.
Whether you call it a watch fob or a pocket watch, the story is the same. When World War I started, the wristwatch took over and the pocket watch got stuck in the pockets of history. That is… until snazzy dressers like yourself decided to give them a go.
Whether you want a classic wind-up mechanical pocket watch or one with battery-operated quartz movement, it’s the chain that draws the attention of envious colleagues and friends. And it keeps the watch from crashing to its death.
Sometimes referred to as Albert T-Bars or Albert chains, these are named for Prince Albert and the style of watch chain he made popular.
To wear a T-bar pocket watch chain, place the T-shaped bar in one of the buttonholes of your waistcoat or vest.
Not sure which buttonhole to use? Choose the one directly above your pocket or something in the middle – around the 3rd buttonhole of your vest. The watch goes in the pocket on the side opposite of your dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, place the pocket watch in your left pocket. This keeps your dominant hand free while you check the time.
A Double Albert chain works the same as a Single Albert, but it has an extra chain with a medallion or pendant on it (also referred to as a fob). This 2nd piece slips in the pocket opposite your watch.
Let’s be honest, you probably don’t dress up like an extra on Peaky Blinders every day. For a casual, everyday look, use a belt slide to wear your pocket watch. Belt slide chains (aka belt bars) have a piece on one end that slides over the belt (from behind it) or the top of your trousers or jeans.
The chain should hang on the outside of your trousers. Your pocket watch slides in your pocket on the side opposite your dominant hand.
If you’re wearing jeans, use the small pocket designed exclusively for cowboys and working men. You know… the little one that you never knew what to do with. It was created by Mr. Levi for pocket watches. Go impress your friends with that tidbit of knowledge.
With a belt loop slide, be sure the chain is long enough to bring the pocket watch comfortably in view. Too short… and you’ll have to bend over to check the time.
Bolt ring pocket watch chains are similar to wallet chains because they attach directly to your belt loop by the spring-loaded ring lock. You can also attach the bolt ring to a buttonhole in your vest or waistcoat for a look similar to a T-bar chain.
Want to wear your pocket watch with a suit jacket or blazer? Attach the ring to the buttonhole on your lapel and slip the watch in your lapel pocket. No vest required.
A vest and a waistcoat are basically the same thing. For some, a vest is more casual, while a waistcoat is reserved for formal wear and accompanied by a tie. Regardless of what you call it, this sleeveless garment is perfect for a pocket watch.
To wear a pocket watch with your vest or waistcoat, simply place the watch in one of the pockets and loop the chain through the buttonhole directly above it.
The button you choose is determined by how much chain you want to hang down. The pocket you choose is always the one opposite your dominant hand. This frees up your hand for important things like signing documents, shaking hands and pointing at things.
Not only are they smart-looking accessories, but engraved pocket watchesalso make the best groomsmen gifts and look brilliant at weddings. Not sure how to customize yours? Check out our suggestions for personalization here.
Best Pocket Watch Chain for Vests and Waistcoats: T-Bar chains and Bolt Ring chains
If you want to wear your pocket watch with a suit jacket or blazer, attach one end of the chain to the lapel buttonhole and place the watch in your breast pocket. This is a smart way to bring interest to your suit without having to go all-in with a lapel pin and pocket square. And a great look for any wedding or formal event.
Another way to wear your pocket watch with a blazer is to pull a T-bar through a buttonhole on the front and place your watch in one of your front pockets. We suggest putting it in the pocket opposite your dominant hand.
Best Pocket Watch Chain for Blazers and Suit Jackets: T-Bar chains and Bolt Ring chains
There’s good news for the guy who wants to carry a pocket watch but who doesn’t want to dress up with a vest and jacket all the time. To wear a pocket watch with jeans or trousers, simply slide the watch in your front pocket and attach the chain to your belt or jeans with a belt slide. Or use a bolt ring and connect a shorter fob or chain to your belt loop.
The chain can hang on the outside of the belt or loop from underneath the belt. We suggest using the pocket opposite your dominant hand to make checking the time easier.
If you’re wearing a button-down dress shirt, you can also loop the chain through one of the lower buttons on your shirt. And if your pocket watch is small enough, use the small pocket inside your pocket to hold your timepiece. This was created to hold a pocket watch anyway, so it might be the right size for yours.
Best Pocket Watch Chain for Jeans and Trousers: Belt Slide chains (Belt Loop Slides) and Bolt Ring chains
Pocket watches do have their intended location mentioned right there in the name – pocket. But that doesn’t mean you can’t break with tradition and wear it around your neck.
Keep the width of the chain in mind – you want it to be strong enough to hold the watch and in the same color as your timepiece. For most men’s pocket watches, shop for a necklace chain in the 4-8 millimeter range. Stainless steel is a great option because it won’t turn your neck green and comes in silver- and gold-tones.