The Pocket Watch: A Man’s Best Accessory

Ever notice how many movies use pocket watches as costume props?

The movie Time Machine features a time traveler having a prominently displayed collection of pocket watches and in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, Peter Lorre carries a pocket watch everywhere he goes. You would expect to see one in a classic film or even a period piece, but even to this day, the pocket watch regularly makes an appearance in genre films. Take for instance Keifer Sutherland’s Waltham in the 1998 science fiction flick Dark City, or more recently Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s stop watch in Rian Johnson’s Looper. The pocket watch is a rare accessory and truth be told, it remains man’s best fashion accessory to date.

Ever notice how cool someone looks when pulling out their pocket watch to check the time? Believe it or not, the pocket watch was once predominant and the wristwatch was considered feminine. So, whatever happened to pocket watches? In men’s fashions, pocket watches began to be superseded by wristwatches around the time of World War I, simply because it made it easier for the soldiers to check the time.

While pocket watches may have been superseded by wristwatches, the pocket watch can never be replaced in style. So why hasn’t it come back in mode? The truth is, mens fashion went on a downward spiral. Those little vestigial pockets you once saw on the vests of three-piece suits served a purpose, allowing a man to whip out his pocket watch and check the time. As vests have long since fallen out of fashion as part of formal business wear, the pocket watch disappeared.

I’ve never owned a wristwatch and I’ve never took a liking for the look of wearing one. I have three pocket watches, my most prized given to me by an elderly man who was a long time customer at the video store I once worked and, and who appreciated my movie recommendations. The pocket watch he gave me is an 18 karat gold Patek pocket watch. Not even a rolex could replace it.

A gift of a gold-cased pocket watch is traditionally awarded to an employee upon their retirement. In my case, it was awarded to me for my eight years of working at the video store. I don’t wear my pocket watch on a daily basis but I do take it with me when I attend a special event, and each and every time I pull out my pocket watch, people stop and stare. Perhaps it is because carrying a pocket watch is a rare thing these days, but I personally believe the pocket watch is man’s best accessory. The more recent wave of mobile phones and other gadgets that are worn on the waist has diminished the appeal of carrying an additional item to tell time, but while everyone else pulls out their lookalike iPhones and Blackberries and/or simply flips their wrist, my pocket watch is a one of a kind.

I once read a quote that said, “Time is the most precious thing in life. It influences every single moment and everything we do. To manage time is to manage life.” A man who wears a pocket watch seems in control of his affairs and never seems in a rush to leave. When someone repeatedly checks their wristwatch or smartphone, it gives an impression they have somewhere more important to be—and thus they seem least interested in their present company. A wrist watch is convenient but distracting, whereas a pocket watch shows a man values his time, but more importantly spends it wisely.

Ricky da Conceicao is the editor-in-chief of Sound on Sight, where he’s reviewed hundreds (if not thousands) of films. Check out his podcast or follow him on twitter.

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