Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
You might be forgiven for thinking pocket watches are more at home in a scene from Peaky Blinders than in the wardrobe for the modern man, but you’d be very much mistaken.
A timeless yet elegant accessory, the humble pocket watch has its beginnings in 16th century Italy but has since been outflanked by the modern wristwatch during the first half of the 20th century. Despite this, the pocket watch holds a strong and defining place in the world of formalwear and has also seen a bit of a resurgence as a cousin of the wallet chain in accessories for casual style.
This guide will explain how to wear a pocket watch with a waistcoat and other less formal outfits.
1. Know Your Watch
When it comes to pocket watch styles, there are two main categories.
First up is the Hunter Case style of a pocket watch, which has a spring-loaded flip lid that rests on top of the face to protect it, and can be opened by pushing a small button or latch. It’s obviously slightly more difficult to read the time at a glance, but the case will protect the glass or crystal dial well, so it’s a compromise worth making. Within this grouping there are also Half Hunter cases – these have a small window in the centre of the case for reading the time when wearing a pocket watch – and Double Hunter cases, which open at the rear so you can see the inner workings and cogs of the device.
The second main category is that of Open Face watches, which have a fully exposed clock face. This makes them easier to read but more susceptible to scratches and wears on the surface of the glass. The next thing to consider when it comes to how to wear your pocket watch is to decide if you want it on a chain and if so, what kind? Chains will make your watch more secure as you won’t be able to drop it, and are a great decorative feature too. The three main types of pocket watch chains are listed below.
T-Bar – The pocket watch attaches to one end of the chain which passes through a t-shaped bar. This then goes through the buttonhole of your jacket or waistcoat and your pocket watch will sit in a watch pocket on the front of the garment.
Belt Bar – The belt bar slides or clips onto the top of your trouser waistband or belt so that your pocket watch can slide easily into your trouser pocket. If you want to wear a pocket watch in your own original way, the belt bar can slip onto the top of any pocket as well.
Bolt Ring – The bolt ring is the most straightforward option when it comes to pocket watch chains, with the chain having your pocket watch at one end and a ring at the other that can easily be clipped through a buttonhole or belt loop, depending on where you want to wear it.
2. Suit The Style
When it comes to wearing a pocket watch with your outfit, there are a couple of styles to choose from. For example, if you’re wondering how to wear a pocket watch with a suit, then you’ll want to opt for the classic arrangement where the chain is passed through a buttonhole. If it’s a three piece suit then pop your watch into the waistcoat pocket on your non-dominant side.
For a modern and casual style, pop your pocket watch into a trouser pocket and attach the end of the watch chain to the pocket, waistband, or belt loop. This will work with both the belt bar and bolt ring chains and will resemble a wallet chain from the point of view of others. There is also the option of wearing your pocket watch on a chain around your neck like a necklace, and while this is more common in womens fashion we would by no means discourage it – there is plenty of room for creativity here!
If you’re opting for a more modern and relaxed aesthetic, then choosing a leather strap or some kind of fob can go a long way to making a watch more suitable. Shiny pocket watch chains can often look great with suits and waistcoats, but a bit out of place in other outfits.
3. Keep Things Ticking
The final thing to remember when it comes to pocket watches is maintenance.
Nowadays you get plenty that is battery powered and last the same length of time as a wristwatch, but there are still those that need to be wound up. Some watches will need a key to be inserted in order to wind them, while others you can do with your hands. You’ll hear a clicking sound while winding, similar to a wind up toy, and you’ll need to get in the habit of doing this regularly so your watch always has the right time.
The large majority of pocket watches are constructed from metal (steer well clear of plastic) and this naturally comes with its own needs and properties. In order to prevent rust or damage, you’ll want to give it a routine wipe clean from any dirt or grime from touching it. The easiest thing to do this with is a simple microfibre cloth and if you know what metal your pocket watch is made from then it’s a good idea to polish it every now and again, especially if it has an engraving of any kind.
As previously mentioned, keeping it on a chain or strap will provide more security when you wear your pocket watch, especially if you opted for the open face pocket watch style. If you find yourself in a scenario where your pocket watch isn’t working properly, then you’ll need to find a good watchmaker or jeweller to sort it out. Many pocket watches are highly complex mechanical devices so you don’t want to risk damaging them by trying to do your own repairs.
1. How To Wear A Pocket Watch?
If you ask most guys they will tell you that a pocket watch is a staple to have on. It is one of those timepieces that everyone should have! When placed on your favorite suit jacket, it can transform any look! You can also wear a watch on your vest and when attending big, important, and formal events, such as weddings. Throw on a sharp suit jacket to get a proper formal ensemble! This is a next-level accessory that shows high-class, so wouldn’t you want to wear it and show off?!
2. Who Can Wear A Pocket Watch?
There are no rules when it comes to this piece. Do you enjoy and want a formal look? Do you usually wear and want a lapel? Guys who have a breast pocket and are aiming for that formal look will want to give this watch a go! A decorative chain can be worn in most classic ways. For instance, wear your watch with some loafers and a collar shirt for a more casual look. For night-outs and formality, a full three-piece suit will do the work! You can always take your fashion next level, don’t you agree?
3. What Side Does A Man Wear A Pocket Watch On?
The watch goes into your left vest pocket if you’re right-handed, and it goes into your right pocket if you are left-handed. Take a close look at your blazer jacket and its pockets. Do you want to make a powerful impression for your special events or work parties? Take your time when creating your look.
How To Wear A Pocket Watch – 3 Style Hacks
To remember how to wear a pocket watch, just follow these three simple rules:
- Know Your Watch – Be clued up on case types, chain styles, and materials
- Suit The Style – Make sure it is cohesive with the rest of your outfit, whether that a three-piece suit or a T-Shirt and jeans
- Keep Thing Ticking – Stay on top of maintenance, winding, cleaning, and repairs