How to Wear a Pocket Watch

Man holding pocket watch in his hand

How To Wear A Pocket Watch

If you are like us, then you like nice things. That particularly applies to how we dress and what we wear. The perfect way to finish a tailored suit or waistcoat and pants combo is with a pocket watch.

Pocket watches were once the standard for men's fashion. The advent of the World Wars found men turning to luminescent wristwatches instead. Once an heirloom passed from father to son, you likely are wondering how to wear a pocket watch today.

Types of Pocket Watches


Period timepieces date to the early 20th century and run on an internal wind-up mechanism. The highest quality are of Swiss origin and found from antique dealers.

Modern quartz pocket watches use an internal battery for power. New watches with classic mechanical movements are also available.


There are 4 main styles of pocket watches:

  • Open Face - No cover over the glass face of the watch
  • Hunter Case - Metal cover protecting the watch face that flips open to reveal the time
  • Half Hunter - Metal cover with a glass window to see the time without opening the cover
  • Double Hunter - Covers that open on both the back and front of the watch

Types of Pocket Watch Chains

The traditional way to wear a pocket watch is at the end of a chain called a fob. Like watch styles, there are 4 choices in pocket watch chain styles.

Albert T-Bar Chains

Named for Queen Victoria's husband, this chain has a T-shaped bar on one end. Best paired with a waistcoat/vest or jacket, the bar slips through the middle buttonhole. The pocket watch attaches to the other end and rests in the nearest breast or side pocket.

Double Albert

A T-bar chain with an identical second chain running to the opposite pocket. This second chain holds another item of importance and creates symmetry. A drink cabinet key, medal, or cigar cutter would attach to the other chain.

Belt Bar Chains

A simple hook designed to slip onto a belt or the top of the pants. This chain is best suited for an informal look with the watch resting in a trouser pocket.

Bolt Ring

Like the classic belt bar, this ring clips through a belt loop for storing the watch in your pants' pocket. These can also hang from a buttonhole on a vest.

Some chains feature another very short chain called an "inch drop". This is for attaching an extra item like a medallion, medal, or seal. If you have nothing to attach, tuck it inside the button panel of your waistcoat.

How To Wear A Pocket Watch To A Formal Event

A pocket watch will add an effortless touch of class to any formal ensemble. It is important to consider the color combination of your watch and attire. A gold pocket watch favors warm hues like brown. While cooler shades of grey, blue, and green compliment silver watches and chains.

Wearing A Pocket Watch With A Waistcoat

The classic way to wear a pocket watch is to attach it to a waistcoat. This looks stylish with a full three-piece suit or you can wear the vest alone at a summer wedding.

To attach your watch to your waistcoat, select a T-bar or bolt ring chain. Place the bar or ring through your waistcoat buttonhole before buttoning up. Leave a bit of the chain to show while keeping the watch in your chest pocket.

Wearing A Pocket Watch With A Suit

Formal events requiring a jacket still work with a pocket watch. Attach a single chain through your suit jacket's lapel buttonhole. The watch will slip into your breast pocket.

You can also slip the T-bar into one of the jacket's buttonholes. Choose a lower buttonhole as these should remain unbuttoned when standing.

How To Wear An Everday Pocket Watch

Pocket watches aren't only for special occasions. You can still pair your watch with a more relaxed look. A crisp shirt paired will look sharp with a watch attached to its buttonhole or your belt loop. Your watch will either rest in your shirt or trouser pocket.

How To Wear a Pocket Watch With Jeans

Jeans are actually designed for wearing a pocket watch. That little pocket right above your side pocket is for holding a pocket watch. Consider a modern snake link or leather belt loop chain to go with your dark wash slim or straight cut jeans.

It should go without saying that you won't wear a wrist or smartwatch when sporting your pocket watch. Have fun experimenting with what looks best with your personal style. You will love how dapper a simple watch update will feel.