Antique Watch Components Are Fine Jewelry

People have used various timepieces for centuries, like sundials, water clocks, and candles. But with the invention of small mechanical watches, timekeeping was revolutionized. Instead of having to go look at the clock or sundial in the town square, anyone with enough money could buy a personal timepiece. As time went on, a pocket watch or wristwatch became available to anyone.

Antique watch collecting has been popular as long as there have been antique watches. There are several reasons for this success. First, even a large antique watch collection is small enough to be kept in a small case. Second, good quality watches will hold their value. Often handcrafted from precious metals and stones, these qualify as functional jewelry. And, interestingly, it is an area of antique heavily collected by men rather than women.

Watch Parts

The most well known type of antique watch is the pocket watch. For hundreds of years, men toted these timepieces as a sort of fashion accessory, but not necessarily in the pocket.

A watch chain was an important accoutrement for an antique watch. The watches were small, rather smooth, expensive, and easily dropped. So men would get a fine chain, attach one end to the watch and the other end to his vest or pocket. The finest chains featured fancy workmanship. To show this jewelry off, men often let the chain dangle very prominently across their chest or stomach. The watch chain is also known as a watch fob.

An antique watch might be found in a lady’s ensemble too. The female equivalent of a watch fob was a chatelaine. A lady’s chatelaine would be a very ornate sort of key ring pinned at the waist. She would hold her house keys, cupboard keys, and perhaps a dainty little watch on it. Just as today some people like lots of key ring charms, so too did many ladies prefer a chatelaine with plenty of pretty decorations that jingled as she walked.

In a museum or an antique watch collection, you may see a timepiece dangling from a pin – upside-down. Ladies pinned these jewels somewhere on their collar or chest where they could easily hold up the watch without removing it and see the time right side up.

Antique or Vintage?

Under US law, only an object over 100 years of age can be called an antique. Twentieth-century watches are still beautiful and collectible, but technically they are only “vintage” until that 100th birthday. If you meet a dealer who is not adhering to this definition, you might ask why.


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