A pocket watch

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
There are a few things that a chap shouldn't really buy himself, but which are nice to have around if they can be inherited or, at the very least, given as a gift. A pocket watch is one of those things. I know it's unfair, but I can't help but feel a little suspicious of the sort of person who buys and wears a pocket watch but, as a fan of three-piece suits, I've sometimes felt it was a pity that no suitable family heirlooms had come my way.

In fact, it turns out one does exist, that belonged to my Great Grandfather. In some ways it's hardly surprising. Before the first world war, and indeed for much of the first half of the last century, pocket watches were as ubiquitous as wristwatches or mobile phones are today, so to have one in the family doesn't so much require aristocratic heritage as simply good fortune and some ancestors who were careful with their possessions.

It's sterling silver, and the hallmarks tell me it was made in London in 1912. That makes sense; my Great Grandfather joined the navy early in the first world war, and might well have either bought or been given a watch around that time. As is often the way with older watches, the chain has long since vanished, so I took a trip to Grey's Antique Market at the weekend to track down a new one. I was pleased to find a nice silver chain, carefully made with an elegant taper at each end, so that the links in the middle are subtly thicker than those at each end. After some struggling with my style conscience, I decided not to go for a double-chain. I rather suspect that, these days, merely wearing a pocket watch is enough of a statement. I shall save the double chain for when I am much older, much fatter, or both.