One of the best things about working at Vintage Cash Cow is the history that we’re steeped in everyday watch.
When you start handling artefacts from bygone eras you begin to realise just how much you don’t know.
A lot of our staff, and customers, find this stuff fascinating. So we decided to see what would happen if we asked our vintage expert Antony to give us some interesting pocket watch facts.
Here you can check out Antony’s vintage knowledge. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page if you don’t want to miss the next fact series.
15 pocket watch facts
- Early pocket watches had practical accessories, like winding keys or cigar cutters.
- The cogs inside a pocket watch are collectively known as the 'movement'.
- The first watches only had an hour hand. The minute hand wasn't added until the 17th century.
- Charles II is thought to be the originator of wearing a pocket watch, while women continued to wear them around chains on their neck.
- Tissot introduced the very first mass-produced pocket watch, as well as the first pocket watch with two time zone in 1853.
- The most complicated pocket watch in the world was released on September 17th 2015, celebrating 260 years of Vachron Constantin. It boasts 57 complications and has over 2,800.
- Until the late 1700s, watches were considered luxury items reserved for the elite.
- In Kipton, Ohio in 1891, two trains collided at full speed because one of the engineer's watches was running four minutes behind. The incident prompted new precision standards and safety inspections for railroad pocket watches.
- Pocket watches made before the 1750s were notoriously inaccurate. They would often lose several hours during one day. The introduction of the lever escapement made them far more accurate.
- The small, inner pocket often found nestling in the larger pocket of a pair of jeans was originally incorporated to hold a pocket watch.
- Peter Henlein (1480-1542) is widely regarded as the first person to make clocks small enough to be portable. A Nurember-based locksmith and clockmaker, he was responsible for making pocket watches.
- The tourbillon (which translates to whirlwind in French) was invented over 200 years ago by Abraham-Louis Breguet. It was included in pocket watches to counteract the effects of gravity which were evident on watches that sat upright in pockets.
- The most expensive pocket watch is the Patek Philippe 'Supercomplication'. Made for the New York financier Henry Graves in 1933. It fetched an astounding $24 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva in 2014 beating its own record of $11 million set in 1999 when it sold to an Arab Sheikh.
- Agatha Christie’s Poirot always had a fob watch, and in the 1968 movie, Steve McQueen is wearing a similar chain-style pocket watch. James Dean’s initialled pocket watch sold for $42,000 last year.
- Pocket watches were replaced by wristwatches sometime around WWI when wristwatches were far more practical for army officers.
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