The pocket watch and waistcoat are synonymous with the iconic and classic, British gentleman’s style. Made famous the world over by figures that have spanned generations on both the silver screen and in reality, it is a look that is certain to remain timeless.

Getting the look right though is something not all manage to pull off. The wrong watch with the wrong waistcoat is just part of the concern. How you add the watch to your waistcoat is the potential game changer.

Getting the correct fusion of style is essential to ensuring that your timepiece and your clothing work together seamlessly to create the look you desire.

In this month’s blog, we look at how you should wear a pocket watch with a waistcoat so you can remain on trend whether it be today or in years to come.

How to choose the ideal waistcoat for your pocket watch

If you want to combine the timeless qualities of both the waistcoat and your watch, it would be beneficial to start by ensuring your wardrobe has the right waistcoat for the job.

At first glance, many waistcoats may look identical to one another. It is this where people often make a mistake. For example, a Marc Darcy waistcoat for a wedding will be significantly different to a waistcoat for work, even though they share fundamental similarities. Getting the difference between them established will make things much easier when it comes to combining your pocket watch and waistcoat for the ideal outfit and accessory combination.

With waistcoats readily available in tweed, wool, cotton, and polyester, and each of these with huge varieties of colour, and patterning, there is plenty of choice. How do you know which one works best for your watch though?

Look at what you are planning to do when wearing your watch with your waistcoat. Are you at work or a formal event, and ultimately look at what you feel comfortable and confident in?

Consider the fit of each waistcoat, and whether it has a suitable place for your watch to be attached. Then look at the occasion you will be hoping to wear them both. Does the waistcoat suit the event, or are you just choosing it because you really want to wear the watch and waistcoat combo?

Tweed, for example, is a staple of a day at the races, or an event like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and will suit a more autumnal wardrobe. Lighter materials will work well in the workplace or at a wedding and suit more of a summer-season collection.

As we said, ultimately, you should feel comfortable and confident. If you don’t, you’ll be doubting whether you have the right waistcoat for your watch.

How to attach a pocket watch to a waistcoat

If you have narrowed down your waistcoat options, or are now considering which ones to shop for, you should begin to look at how your pocket watch will attach to it. Pocket watches have evolved since their inception back in the 16th century, and there are now three types of chains available to help you attach your pocket watch to your waistcoat. Each delivering a slightly different style.

The three varieties of pocket watch chain are: T-Bar, Bolt Ring and Belt slide.  Practice

  • The T-Bar pocket watch chain: This is the type of pocket watch chain that is normally attached to your waistcoat and is threaded through the buttonhole to keep it in place. The watch can then go in a pocket, to keep it safe and accessible.
  • The Bolt Ring pocket watch chain: This pocket watch chain will attach to the belt loop on the trousers or buttonhole with the watch then going into the pocket.
  • The Belt Slide pocket watch chain slides over the belt from behind. The chain should hang on the outside of the trousers with the watch going in the pocket opposite your dominant hand.

What pocket watch should I choose for my waistcoat?

Pocket watches come in four styles, and much depends on your personal preference as to which one should go with your waistcoat. There is no hard and fast rule regarding which style suits a waistcoat the most, however, it would appear people are starting to put more consideration into this, especially if they want their watch to be recognised.

For example, certain outfits may suit the watch being seen as more of a visual accessory, others may have their appearance increased by the watch chain tucking into a pocket. These two different dress styles can lead to you needing two very different types of pocket watch.

The four types of pocket watch are:

  • Open-faced pocket watch. These are the traditional pocket watches that have no protective cover over the watch face. Often it is best not to put in a pocket out of the possibility of scratches and dirt getting into the watch from the pocket.
  • Hunter pocket watch. The Hunter pocket watch has its watch face covered with the time being revealed when the cover is opened. These are often a preferential choice to go with suits and waistcoats.
  • Half-Hunter pocket watch. The Half Hunter is much the same as the full Hunter but instead has a small window that the time can be viewed through. The cover can still be opened if preferred.
  • Double-Hunter pocket watch. A hunter pocket watch where the cover can be opened on both the back and the front.

Where Should a pocket watch be positioned on a waistcoat?

When combining a pocket watch and waistcoat, you should aim to combine comfort as well as style. Always ensure that the watch is placed in a pocket opposite the dominant hand. This will not only make it much easier to access but also accentuate the curve and look of the chain.

Typically, look for using a buttonhole that is directly above the pocket or in the middle. This would normally be the third or maybe fourth buttonhole. In some cases, there is an additional chain, known as the Double Albert. If your watch is adorned with one of these, you simply attach the extra chain that has a medallion or pendant on it into the pocket opposite your watch.

How to wear a pocket watch and waistcoat together

We have already mentioned the type of waistcoat you should consider at certain times of the year but what about the watch itself and the type of waistcoat that complements it?

Pocket watches are commonly gold or silver, and a clean gold pocket watch will suit a particular waistcoat much better than a silver one. Likewise, there are certain styles where a silver pocket watch enhances an item of clothing much more than a gold one could.

Gold pocket watches suit the warmer tones. Browns, dark greens and the typical autumnal colours help make a gold pocket watch really stand out.

A silver pocket watch will look more vibrant and appealing when it is accompanied by a grey suit or a navy one. You then simply turn up the colour through the shirt that accompanies the waistcoat. Have the colour of the watch chain match that of the watch and consider using accessories to work with it. Look at cufflinks, your tie and even any jewellery that you may like to wear. If you have a gold pocket watch with a gold chain, have gold cufflinks or a bracelet.

When should you combine a pocket watch with a waistcoat?

The combination of a pocket watch and waistcoat lends itself to a host of opportunities, but you want to be careful you don’t try too hard to fit the two together.

Weddings are of course a common scenario, but other formal settings will also see the look you desire being one that is appreciated by others and enjoyed by you.  Just remember the watch colour and jacket shades we referenced earlier!

If wearing your waistcoat, you decide to go open collar, the addition of a pocket watch is probably best avoided. The pocket watch has a history of heritage and sophistication and as a result, your outfit should tell the same story. Therefore, a tie to complement your shirt and waistcoat will really help increase the emphasis of your watch.

Keeping your pocket watch clean and safe in your waistcoat

A pocket watch is a delicate timepiece and one that you may want to show off on occasion. As a result, scratches, chips, and smears need to be avoided to have the watch seen at its best.

Before attaching your pocket watch to your waistcoat, check the pockets are free of debris. Sometimes the smallest bit of dirt or some leftover rubbish could be tucked away inside and cause damage to your watch. Wipe it down with a lint-free cloth to remove fingerprints and any smears, and follow our guide to cleaning a pocket watch to make sure everything else is well looked after.

If you are looking for a pocket watch to complement your outfit, why not speak to us at The Clock Clinic? We are experienced horologists that have spent years within the industry selling, restoring and purchasing pocket watches from all over the world. With dutiful attention and a considerate nature, we can restore your existing pocket watches back to their best. Our watch repair service is available by appointment only, allowing our dedicated team to commit to giving you a premium service. If you have a pocket watch in need of repair, get in contact today.