We have discussed the history of numerous different watch types seen around the world. If you want to check out those articles go here! A precursor to almost all of the watches we discussed is in the pocket. Today, we’ll be diving into the history of the watch before the wristwatch: the pocket watch. 


1. The First Pocket Clocks

Rotate Watch case press

Pocket timepieces, like wristwatches, have their roots in other ways of telling time. In this instance, the pocket watch originates from clocks on the wall. The first timekeepers to become portable was seen in the 16th century. These were proto pocket timepieces that were more like small portable clocks. They were fashioned into clothes or even worn around the user’s neck. These early watches were bulky but did succeed at keeping time.


2. Into The Pocket

Watch case opener

By the 17th century, designs improved enough to be able to put the portable clock into one’s pocket, thus becoming the first pocket clocks. Men started to wear the watches in their pockets rather than around their necks as pendants. The style was mostly for men to wear their watches in their pockets at this point. The shape of the watch also changed to fit better into one’s pocket. One story credits Charles the second of England with the move to pockets for watches. He introduced the fashion trend of waistcoats with pockets which helped facilitate the movement of the watch to the pocket.


3. Further Development 

Rotate Watch movement and finger cots

Early watches were not the best at keeping time. In the 18th and 19th centuries, new technologies were added to the watch to help with the timekeeping issues. One instance is the addition of the lever escapement to the watch in the 19th century. This greatly improved time accuracy. The rise of the railroad led to a large boom in the pocket watch demand. Accurate timekeeping was needed to keep the trains on time so these watches were used.


4. Modern Period

Eventually, the development of better technology and changes to fashion again shook up the timekeeping movement and the pocket watch moved out of fashion. What came after is the wristwatch that we have written about before. Pocket timepieces are still available today as collector’s items and timekeepers, but their age of prominence has passed.


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