Pocket watches were already a thing long before the introduction of the world’s first wristwatch. They are considered the oldest type of timepiece in the horological industry.
The world’s first pocket timekeeper was invented as early as 1510 by one of the most talented watchmakers of that era, a German named Peter Henlein.
The pioneer timepiece, named the Pomander Watch, sparked massive popularity and demand for pocket watches. They were all the rage for more than three centuries until Patek Philippe came up with the first-ever wristwatch. The genius watchmaker, whose brand is still one of the most refined to this day, designed the timepiece in 1868 for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.
Patek’s invention spurred the launch of many excellent watch brands (some of which are enjoying massive success to this day) and mostly brought the glory days of pocket watches to an end.
However, if we look at the last decade or so, it’s clear the popularity of vintage timepieces is on the rise. This is particularly true when it comes to pocket watches with chains that are selling in great numbers online. Such a trend has sparked many popular wristwatch brands to enrich their collections with pocket timepieces.
If you’ve been on the lookout for one of these, you might want to continue reading. In today’s article, we will cover the best pocket watches with chains you can get in 2021.
To make sure there’s a suitable watch model for all readers, the top 7 list contains pocket watches of varying styles and functionalities.
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At a Glance: TOP 7
- Most Premium: Tissot T8614059903300
- Cheapest: Manchda GM-HBH170
- Best Chronograph: Charles Hubert 3571
- Best Sporty: Stuhrling 990
- Best Skeleton: Charles Hubert 3792-W
- Best Quartz: Gotham GWC15026S
- Best Gold-Tone: Stuhrling 991.01
Best Pocket Watch With Chain (Top 7 Reviewed)
We open up the list with arguably the most premium and trusted watchmaker included in the article. Tissot watches have been around since 1853 and continue to enjoy amazing success in today’s competitive market.
Although the brand began its story with pocket timepieces, the production of these was on hold for decades. However, due to the increasing popularity and the craving for vintage items, they’re back. Back with a bang.
The model you see above is the most costly yet by far the most premium pocket watch with a chain covered in the article.
The case is made from palladium brass with strong anti-corrosion and scratch-resistance properties. It measures 51mm in diameter and 12mm in thickness. The chain is made from the same material.
The snow-white dial includes large Roman numerals and black minute markers and is the epitome of vintage style. There are two main hands indicating hours and minutes. For seconds, there’s an additional sub-dial placed at 6 o’clock. The watch’s face is protected by a scratch-resistant mineral crystal.
The most impressive aspect of this pocket timepiece is the movement. Tissot has opted for a highly accurate Swiss mechanical movement produced by one of the most trusted manufacturers, ETA. The 17-jewel caliber has a power reserve of 46 hours.
If you’re on an extremely tight budget or simply don’t want to invest a lot in this excellent gadget, this model from ManChDa is a great option.
ManChDa is a low-cost Chinese brand that focuses strictly on manufacturing pocket watches with chains at bargain-basement pricing. The GM-HBH170CA model is certainly a good representative of what the company has to offer.
Safe to say, at first glance, the model looks way above its price tag. It has a 47mm stainless steel case with a double cover (opening both at the front and at the back). The chain is made from the same material.
The white background of the dial combines neatly with gold-tone Roman numerals and the open-heart design in the center. This allows you to peek at the intricate workings of mechanical movement. The central part of the dial also includes a 12-hour time scale.
The only noticeable drawback of this ultra-affordable model is the quality of the movement. The Chinese caliber that powers the ManChDa timepiece can’t be compared with Japanese or Swiss mechanisms used with other models on the list. With that said, the quality-price ratio is still on point.
Charles Hubert 3571
The next on the list of best pocket watches with chains is this best-selling model from Charles Hubert Paris. It’s probably one of the most misleading brand names in the horological industry as the company is actually American.
The California-based brand has been around for 2 decades and has one of the biggest pocket watch collections in the low-to-mid price basket. On top of pocket watches, it also offers regular wristwatches and pendants. You can read about the brand in detail in our Charles Hubert brand review.
The model you see above is definitely a departure from the vintage theme of the previous two timepieces on the list.
It’s a good option if you prefer smaller-sized watches as it measures just 42mm in diameter and is 14mm thick. In contrast to the ManChda model above, this one has an open-face case. Both the case and the curb chain are made from stainless steel.
What gives this pocket watch a more modern feel is the inclusion of large Arab numerals and the chronograph sub-dials. The main dial as well as sub-dials are equipped with stylish turquoise hands. The chronograph function can be operated through the two pushers placed on each side of the main crown. The dial also features a date window positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock.
On the accuracy front, this Charles Hubert watch won’t disappoint. It’s powered by a Japanese quartz movement and shouldn’t lose/gain more than 20 seconds monthly.
If you’re looking for a pocket watch that looks extremely modern, Stuhrling Torero is certainly an option worth considering. It’s the most sporty and present-day model on today’s list.
Even if you’re a beginning watch enthusiast, chances are big you’ve already heard about the American brand. Despite affordable pricing, Stuhrling offers some of the most unique-looking timepieces in today’s market, many of which look way above their price tags (read also: Stuhrling Brand Review).
At the time of writing, pocket watches with chains make just a small portion of the entire Stuhrling watch collection. However, the ones that are available will easily turn many heads.
Stuhrling Torero is available in three design variations. Apart from the matte black you see above, there’s also the option of silver-blue and silver-black combinations. All versions are fully made from stainless steel and share equal measurements. The diameter is 48mm and the case thickness is 13,25mm.
The busily-arranged black dial features luminescent gold-tone hands and Arab numerals, ensuring easy time-telling in any light. It has two chronograph timers measuring minutes and seconds. The edge of the face also features a printed pulsometer. Last but not least, near 5 o’clock there’s a date window.
With an incorporated hinge that allows the watch to stand upright on a desk or other flat surface, this pocket watch may also be used as a desk clock.
The watch guarantees excellent accuracy thanks to a Japanese quartz movement.
On the durability front, protecting the face from scratches is mineral crystal glass. The timepiece also offers the best protection against water damage from all products on the list as it’s water-resistant up to 50m.
Charles Hubert 3972-W
Because of the high reputation of Charles Hubert pocket watches, it’s only fair to include more than one model on today’s list.
It’s clear to see this one is in great contrast to the chronograph model described above. Charles Hubert 3972-W is one for those that appreciate highly skeletonized dial design. A large chunk of the dial is see-through, allowing you to marvel at the complex workings of the mechanical movement even with both covers closed.
The watch is by far the biggest on the list. The diameter of the case is 53mm while it’s also considerably thick (16mm). The case, as well as the front and back covers and the curb chain, are all made from stainless steel.
As already mentioned, the timepiece boasts a skeleton design. The only opaque element of the face is where you can find the Roman numerals. The remaining dial part is all see-through and also includes a sub-dial measuring second at 6 o’clock. All three hands are turquoise. Protecting the dial from damage is mineral crystal glass.
If you’re looking for the best dollar-for-dollar quartz pocket watch on the list, look no further. This Gotham model is available for peanuts and, being powered by a reliable Japanese quartz caliber, delivers unbeatable accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month.
Gotham’s presence in the watchmaking industry is relatively short as the brand started selling its first products just a decade ago. The New York-based company specializes mostly in pocket watches but it also offers pendant timepieces and talking watches. If you wish, you can learn more about the company by reading our Gotham review.
The model you see above comes with an open face and polished brass case. It’s the smallest pocket watch on the list, measuring a mere 42mm in diameter. Considering that it’s a standard size of regular wristwatches, this Gotham model is for those who like to keep things light, small, and simple. The model also includes a 15-inch silver-tone curb chain with a belt clip holder attachment.
Gotham GWC15026S features an easy-to-read railroad-styled white dial with large Arab numerals as well as stick minute markers. Pointing to these are three black hands. In the center located is an additional dial with reddish numerals with a 24-hour scale.
Probably the biggest downside of going for this model is the acrylic window which isn’t as reliable as either mineral or sapphire. With that said, there’s not much room for complaints considering the bargain-basement pricing.
Closing the list of the best pocket watches with chains is this head-turning, gold-tone model from Stuhrling.
Stuhrling Modena is equal in size to the Toreno model previously discussed in the article but it couldn’t have been more different in terms of the looks.
Whilst the previous Stuhrling timepiece boasted a strong, sporty design, this one combines elegance with vintage. The gold-tone stainless steel case measures 48mm in diameter and is 12.6mm thick. The caseback is transparent and includes a desk stand making sure the product fits more than just one purpose. The pocket watch includes a chain that’s also made from stainless steel.
The arrangement of the dial is really busy and it offers some interesting functions. A large part of the face is skeletonized, allowing you to track the passage of time while peeking at the complex workings of the Japanese automatic movement. The combination of turquoise hands, gold-tone Arab numerals, and silver background certainly grab the attention.
The face includes two additional sub-dials performing different tasks. The first, located at noon o’clock, is the Sun/Moon sub-dial indicating the current moon phase. At 6 o’clock you will find the second sub-dial responsible for the Dual Time function. Also known as the GMT, it allows you to keep track of additional timezone. You can learn more about dual time function by reading our Introduction to GMT Watches.
Durability-wise, the model has an upper hand on most of the timepieces on the list mainly due to its 50m water resistance. Furthermore, it comes with a scratch-resistant mineral crystal lens.
Pocket Watches With Chain: Buying Guide
While we have high hopes that at least one of the pocket watches reviewed in the article has caught your eye, we do know that there’s no accounting for taste and just because we love all of them, doesn’t mean you will as well.
Hence, below you will find a quick-to-read Buying Guide in which we highlight the most important metrics you should look out for while searching for the perfect product on your own.
Further down the article, we’ve also answered some of the most popular questions covering the subject of pocket timepieces.
Even the most splendid-looking pocket watches will count for nothing if the durability is not up to the required standards.
It’s true that pocket watches aren’t as prone to damage as regular wristwatches because they’re usually in our pockets. However, as you will learn in the latter part of the article, there are various ways of wearing your pocket watch and different risks associated with them. Hence, you should still make sure the sturdiness is on point.
a) Glass – let’s start with the most damage-prone part of any watch – the dial window. While with regular wristwatches it’s always highly recommended to go for a mineral or sapphire crystal glass, in some cases an acrylic dial window is okay with a pocket watch. This is true when the timepiece is equipped with a case opening.
b) Case – the ruggedness of the case is just as important because it can further boost the protection of the face. Consider pocket watches with stainless steel or brass cases. If you’re aiming for a more refined timepiece, going for titanium or ceramic model is also a good idea.
c) Chain – apply the same tips as with the case and you’ll be fine.
d) Water resistance – this metric can be very important but it doesn’t have to be. It all depends on your everyday life and how you plan to use the watch. For example, if you want to use it during sports or with a high risk of exposure to water, you should definitely aim for some sort of water resistance. A 5 ATM/50m rating is a good benchmark. In other cases, as long as you use the watch with caution, you can get around even without any level of waterproofing.
The movement is the engine of your watch and should also be high on the priority list. The quality of the movement you get will largely depend on your budget.
Unless you’re hunting for bargain-basement products, try to avoid Chinese movements (whether quartz, automatic or mechanical). Instead, opt for Japanese or Swiss calibers. Movements produced in any of the two countries are highly regarded amongst watch aficionados all around the globe and should deliver years of hassle-free use.
Should you pick a battery-powered or automatic/mechanical movement? This depends on your own preferences. If you value unbeatable accuracy, go for a quartz pocket watch. On the other hand, if you prioritize the bigger complexity and higher level of craftsmanship, an automatic or mechanical model will probably suit you better.
Ask yourself a question: do I prefer a classic, simple approach to pocket timepieces or am I looking for a model jammed with extra functions?
If you’re in the first group, consider getting a timepiece with a clear, legible face with large numerals and hands. That will do.
However, if you’re looking for some additional perks, consider more complex models. Some of the functions that are quite popular amongst the wearers include:
- Day/Date calendar – usually in the form of a display window
- GMT function – allows you to track time in a separate timezone. Can be either in the form of an additional hand or a separate sub-dial
- Chronograph – extremely popular amongst the wearers that are into sports. Helps you take separate measurements of seconds, minutes, and hours.
Last but not least, remember that the watch should first and foremost feel great on you. Go after a model that matches your own style and will look good in more than one setting.
Chain Pocket Watches: FAQ
Now that you’re more than ready to look for the best pocket watch witch chain on your own, it’s finally time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by folks just dipping their toes into the sector.
What are the leading pocket watch brands?
When it comes to today’s watchmaking industry, there’s a little number of brands that specialize exclusively in pocket watches. The reason for this is simple: despite the steady growth in popularity, these are still nowhere near as in demand as the regular wristwatch type.
If you’re looking for proven quality, consider some of the well-known watchmakers that have been around for decades, if not centuries. A few names that instantly spring to mind are Bulova, Seiko, or Tissot. Another affordable brand that’s definitely worth a try is Stuhrling from who we included as many as two models on today’s list.
How much does a pocket watch cost?
Like in the case of a regular wristwatch, the prices vary greatly. Some of the budget Chinese brands offer pocket watches with chains at price points starting from as low as $9. On the other hand, we have top-shelf watchmakers such as Rolex or Omega that can set you back well into five figures.
What are the best pocket watches for investment?
If you’re looking to invest in a pocket watch with a vision of long-term profit, prepare to break the bank. Timepieces that are likely to hold (and increase) value usually come from the very best and most expensive brands in the industry, such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Longines.
On top of the right selection of the brand, for a pocket watch to be considered valuable, it should have intriguing and distinctive complexities, and be preserved in good condition.
What are the different styles of pocket watches?
There are four main styles of pocket watches. These indicate how much of the watch’s face is visible.
- Open – this type has no cover over the dial at all
- Hunter – A metal cover surrounds the watch face. To reveal the time, you need to open it
- Half-Hunter – The face of the watch is half-hidden. It features a metal cover with a glass pane that allows you to view the time. The cover may still be opened to see the entire watch face.
- Double-Hunter – The watch has a cover that can be opened on both the front and the back
What are the parts of a pocket watch?
A pocket watch consists of a few parts we could call “main”.
- The watch itself (face) – it contains the clockwork and the dial, as well as any metal covers. It’s essentially the heartbeat of any pocket watch.
- Fob – on the opposite end of the pocket watch chain is a fob, which is a little adornment. These can be exceedingly extravagant, as was the trend during the Victorian era, or quite basic. They were designed to make it easy to remove the watch from a pocket.
- Attachment – most modern pocket watches come with attachments instead of fobs. This might be a T-bar or clip that holds the pocket watch in place, for example. Despite T-bars being the most prevalent, belt rings that attach to a trouser belt loop are also available.
- Chain – that’s the part that links the pocket watch to the fob or the attachment. There are a few chain styles to pick from but the two most popular are Single Albert and Double Albert. The first type attaches to the vest or waistcoat by the end. The second type attaches the chain to the waistcoat or vest by the middle (normally a central T-bar) while the end of the chain is kept in a separate pocket.
How to wear a pocket watch?
There’s no fixed way a pocket watch needs to be worn and you can adjust it to your own preferences.
So, a left or right pocket?
This depends on what is your dominant hand. In general, right-handers should keep the watch in the left pocket and the left-handers in the right. Such a setting allows you to draw out the pocket watch while leaving your dominant hand free.
With a waistcoat
Pocket timepieces were usually paired with waistcoats in the past. While few individuals wear waistcoats as part of their regular wardrobe these days, they are nevertheless frequently seen at weddings and other formal events.
In such a case, place the pocket watch in one pocket of your waistcoat, thread the chain through your buttonhole, and tuck the other pocket’s end of the chain or the fob.
The watch is kept secure in your pocket, while the elegant chain is left on display.
With a suit
Because waistcoats aren’t as widespread as they once were, you’ll need to know how to wear a pocket watch with a suit without one. This is perfect for formal events when you don’t want to wear a three-piece suit.
Your pocket watch should be kept safe and accessible in your suit pocket, which can be either the breast pocket or the front pocket.
With a shirt
You may still wear a pocket watch with only a shirt if it’s a less formal occasion that doesn’t require a suit jacket or a waistcoat. Depending on the fastening, attach the pocket watch to a lower shirt buttonhole or your belt loop, then store it in your trouser pocket.
Wearing a pocket watch isn’t limited to formal occasions. It may offer a sophisticated touch to a smart-casual ensemble and even work with jeans.
Simply tie the end of the chain to your belt loop and tuck the watch into your pants pocket to wear a pocket watch with jeans.