Are Pocket Watches Practical ?

I had disappeared down one of those internet rabbit holes when I came across an article on an american website entitled “Here’s why your pants have a teeny tiny pocket that’s too small to use”. As a regular wearer of jeans, I had often pondered the answer to this question. I had in the past seen this pocket being referred to a the “fob pocket” but not thought any more about it.

The article explains that the little pocket was originally intended as somewhere to keep your pocket or “fob” watch. They originally appeared on Levis working overalls in the 1890’s when of course pocket watches were common.

During the current health crisis, I am like many of you working from home. I use a pocket watch as desk clock on my limited workspace. So, I thought why not use the watch as it was intended, in a pocket, maybe then I could get to use my wife’s grandfather’s gold Patek. Now before reading the article I had considered pocket watches required the wearing of a waistcoat, a fashion I am still not following despite the attempts of Gareth Southgate. I am however a regular wearer of “five pocket jeans”.  Bingo, I am almost ready to experiment.

My pocket watch is one of the “found in a draw” objects from my Mother’s home. It is a Leonidas GSTP with a government arrow on the back. As with most families we had many family members who did some form of military service in the twentieth century so I am not sure of the origins of this particular piece; I like to think of it as having been my paternal grandfather’s,  he spent the Second World War in the Royal Naval dockyard at Portsmouth, but I not completely convinced,

The watch has passed several decades unused in it’s draw. I took it home and wound it up, as I have come to expect from these less sophisticated vintage items – it ran. Not only does it run, it actually keeps pretty good time. It did rattle a little but all I had to do was prise off the back of the case and tighten up two little screws. Almost set for the experiment but no pocket watch is really practical without a watch chain. Without the chain it difficult to get the watch out of the “teeny tiny” pocket. In two days the famous purveyors of horological goodies, Amazon, supplied me with something appropriate.

So, is a pocket watch viable daily beater after all many millennials use rely on the modern-day equivalent – their mobile phone. An alternative title for this article might therefore be “Can I use a pocket watch instead of my phone?”.

After my couple of days trial, I have reached an interim conclusion that I your daily routine consists of sitting at a desk, a pocket watch does work pretty well as a desk clock. But once you move away, for whatever reason, you do need to remember to take the watch with you. If you try the other option of keeping the watch in the “teeny tiny pocket” it is not super easy to pull out ever time you need to see the time. If, however, you are on your feet most of the time consulting the watch in the little pocket represents less of a challenge.

After posting some images of the watch on Instagram on possible block to regular use of this pocket watch was pointed out by Alexandre Meerson, possible radioactivity of the hands. Making keeping the watch in the little pocket very close to your groin feel less inviting…. Oh well when I get used to using pocket watches I will just have to use the Patek 😊

The Greenwich Time Lady

A couple of weeks ago a thoughful family member passed onto me one of those glossy watch supplements that many magazines publish. As I thumbed through it I did not expect to find anything particularily interesting. To my surprise I came across a review of a book titled ” Ruth Belville – the Greenwich Time Lady” by David Rooney.

Already I was intrigued by the title, as it is very similar to Grinidgetime. Apart from this it promised to add a little more local knowledge to me as a Greenwich resident interested in time. As the title suggestes the book tells the story of Ruth Belville and her family and how they brought the correct time to businesses in London for over over three generations.

For anyone with similar interests it is a fascinating read. On my travels around the town I have found myself looking at places where the family had lived. Even without the local interest the book gives a fascinating insight into the importance of time in the 19th and early 20th centuries and key role of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

The book is also a veritable goldmine of interesting horological companies, great inspiration for anyone wondering what to call the latest kickstarter brand.

One slight disappointment for me was that the maps used on the inside and back covers do not actually cover Greenwich Park and as a consequence the Royal Observatory.

William Wood

Again I have to have been a little sceptical of this brand when they first popped up on Instagram, now with the launch of their second watch I have to admit that I was possibly a little quick to judge. The brand like many others just had to get itself of the ground.

The first watch the Chivalrous collection, as you can see above, was a fairly generic looking quartz powered two hander. One feature I did like, as a fan of solid casebacks, was the solid caseback incorporating a brass coin made from a melted down 1923 firefighter’s helmet.

The story behind the watch is quiet interesting, the company’s founder’s, Jonny Garrett, grandfather was William Wood a firefighter. The company, as many others, was launched after a Kickstarter campaign. They have susequently won the Esquire Self-Made Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. They aspire to becoming a British luxury brand that uses recycled firefighting material in a sustainable, cool and chivalrous way.

Their next step towards acheiving this goal is their second watch, the Valiant, an different take on a classic divers watch again using recycled firefighting materials.

In this case the strap is made from recycled fire hoses. For those that might not be keen on a red strap there is also a military version using ex-military fire service green hoses.

Apart from the straps and the firefighter’s helmet logo on the dial the watches follow the classic format.

Technical Specifications:

  • Swiss ETA 2824 or Japanese NH35 Automatic movement
  • Case diameter 41mm
  • Case thickness 16mm
  • Lug width 20mm
  • Water Resistant 100 metres / 10 ATM
  • 316L Stainless Steel case and metal band
  • Double domed sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating and blue tint
  • Rotating bezel with Super-LumiNova 12 dot
  • Super-LumiNova hands, indices and bezel 12 dot
  • Domed dial with date window and sweeping second hand
  • Crown inset made from original 1920’s British brass firefighters helmet

The watches are reasonably priced at £695 for the NH35 version or £995 for the ETA.

I am sure here might be many watch buyers that for some reason or other are not keen on the military associations of many of this type of watch on offer. These watches offer that alternative. You can discover more and buy the watches at https://williamwoodwatches.com/.