best pocket watches

13 Best Pocket Watches That Are Timeless Classics

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A pocket watch is a subtle way to demonstrate both sophistication and style.

Beyond simply making a statement, a fine pocket watch should be made from a quality material, have a crystal that won’t easily scratch, all while accurately keeping time.

Not only will we review some of the most popular and highly sought after pocket watches currently on the market, but we will also go over a few key considerations that you should think about before making a purchase, essential care instructions so your pocket watch will look beautiful for years, along with answering a few common questions many men had when it comes to finding the perfect pocket watch for them.

Let’s get started:

In A Hurry? Our Top Picks:

Comparing The Best Pocket Watches

NameBest For…Score
Tissot Savonnette Pocket WatchOverall5
Hamilton 992B Railroad Pocket WatchVintage Pocket Watch4.8
Bulova Pocket WatchUnder $2004.7
Stuhrling Vintage Mechanical Pocket WatchGift Giving4.7
Charles-Hubert Pocket WatchSkeleton Design4.6
Regent Hills Pocket WatchUnder $5004.8

*Ratings regularly updated based on additional research, feedback, reviews, etc.

A Few Considerations Before Buying A Pocket Watch

When it comes to selecting a pocket watch, you can quickly get overwhelmed with all the choices available to you.

In order to find the best pocket watch to meet your needs, here are a few key features you should consider when buying a pocket watch:

Watch Case Metal

During our research we found that pocket watch cases came in a variety of different metals which may include the following:

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Aluminum

Along with other hybrid alloys.

If you are looking for a pocket watch that appreciates in value over the course of time, then those relying on the classic metals such as gold or silver will often be a much safer investment.

With that being said, hard metals such as stainless steel or titanium can withstand much more abuse should they be accidentally dropped, especially if it is a full hunter case watch, when compared to gold or silver.

Therefore, think about the type of material you want for your pocket watch before making your purchase.

Lastly, depending on the metal used, some companies such as Tissot have explicit cleaning instructions for each of their watches based on the metal used.

Window, Watch Crystal, or Lens

Watch crystals (sometimes referred to as the window or lens) come in three primary varieties (ranked best to worse):

  • Sapphire Crystal
  • Mineral Glass
  • Acrylic

Sapphire, one of the hardest minerals according to the Mohs hardness scale (9 out of 10) will resist scratches, scuffs, and most other moderate incidental damage.

Sapphire is a luxury crystal only found in pocket watches that cost several hundred dollars.

If you are looking for an heirloom piece that will retain its window clarity for years – go with a sapphire crystal.

Found in moderately priced pocket watches, mineral glass is a good and affordable crystal that can resist most scuffs and scratches.

While not as hard as sapphire, it delivers great value.

Acrylic should be avoided as it can get scratched rather easily.

The only instance where an acrylic window may make sense is with costume or novelty pocket watches.

If you are looking for a simple conversation starter or are doing a bit of cosplay, then acrylic will be good enough here.

Design

As you will see in our pocket watch reviews listed below, designs can vary greatly.

Some of the major categories include the following:

  • Skeletal
  • EDC / Rugged
  • Antique / Vintage / Old School
  • Tech / Smart Pocket Watches
  • Costume / Steampunk

Depending on the reason for your purchase may dictate the design style of the pocket watch you buy.

Skeleton

Often paired with a mechanical movement, skeleton pocket watches give you an inside look at the movement of gears within the watch.

This type of pocket watch usually has both a glass front and glass back safely behind a full hunter case.

Both mesmerizing and fascinating, skeleton watches expertly blur the lines between both being fashionable and functional.

EDC / Rugged

Men looking for a ruggedized pocket watch that can withstand daily abuse will want to find one with a bit sturdier of a design.

Typically featuring an oversized crown coupled with a waterproof case, these watches are often crafted from the strongest of metals including stainless steel or titanium.

If you want to keep your wrists free, then a rugged pocket watch can make perfect sense.

Antique / Vintage / Old School

Somewhere between the classic pocket watches of the 1800s and those made today, you can find design characteristics that harken back to the era of the elegant old antique railroad pocket watches.

Oftentimes featuring a Roman Numeral face, these watches are timeless and often will appreciate in value.

If you are looking for a pocket watch that has that antique or vintage design flare but was made within the past few years, then you should have no problem finding one in our list below.

However, if you are looking for an authentic antique pocket watch that was made over a century ago, then you will either want to visit your local pocket watch dealer or simply visit auction sites like eBay as their selection can be vast.

Tech / Smart Pocket Watches

Not all pocket watches need to feature Roman Numeral markings or mechanical movement, in fact, some companies today make digital pocket watches.

Not only can you keep an accurate track of time through their quartz movement, but digital pocket watches often have other neat features such as an altimeter, stopwatch, barometer, etc.

We even came across a custom case that transformed the highly popular Apple Watch into a pocket watch!

Costume / Steampunk

Costume or steampunk pocket watches are perfect should you just be looking for a conversation starter, costume addition, or simply want a bit of design flair to your pocket watch.

Usually blending the lines between the antique Victorian-era and modern-day technology, steampunk is truly a design characteristic all on its own.

These pocket watches are oftentimes affordable and great for casual use.

Our recommendation here is to go with a design that matches both your style and intent of the purchase (casual vs. formal vs. family heirloom piece).

Open Face vs. Hunter Case (Closed Case)

Pocket watches come with two different case types – open face and hunter case.

While their origins are steeped in history, the open face and hunter case are starkly different from one another.

Open face pocket watches have no protective cover over the crystal – making it much easier to see the time at a quick glance.

This open face designed was popularized by the trainmen of the late 1800s and early 1900s as they could track the time of the inbound and outbound trains in an efficient manner.

Hunter case pocket watches originated in England and were used by men (hunters) during famous fox chases.

The hunter case provides protection of the crystal and must be pressed along the side in order to be opened like a clamshell.

The hunter case is available in two different types:

  • Full case
  • Half hunter

Full Case

The full case on the hunter will protect the watch crystal and gear access on the back.  Full hunter cases provide the most comprehensive protection in a pocket watch.

Half Hunter

The half hunter was a natural evolution on the full hunter case.  Rather than having to open the case in order to see the time, a half hunter case features a cut-out in the case that gives you a small window to view the watch hands in order check the time without fully opening.

Movement

When it comes to watches, you have five different movement types:

  1. Mechanical / Hand Wound
  2. Quartz
  3. Kinetic
  4. Automatic
  5. Solar (concept)

Here is how each movement type differs:

Mechanical / Hand Wound Movement

Mechanical movement is when the spring must be wound manually about once every 24 hours in order to maintain accurate time keeping.

Mechanical watches must be maintained on a regular basis as the spring within the pocket watch must be oiled.

While there are some DIY guides you can find online explaining how to do this, we would recommend taking your pocket watch to a trusted dealer instead in order to not cause any accidental damage.

Quartz Movement

Quartz movement is by far the most convenient as this movement is battery powered and can maintain accurate time for months or years on a single battery.

Found on both modern (after 1969) and digital pocket watches, it is low maintenance and great for casual use.

Quartz typically comes in a few different varieties – most notably Japanese and Swiss movement.

While the differences between Japanese and Swiss movements may not be of interest to the casual watch buyer, they are notable to collectors.

Japanese movement is more precise and accurate, whereas Swiss movement is simply a higher level of design aesthetics.

Kinetic Movement

Nearly identical to quartz movement, a kinetic pocket watch has some self-charging abilities allowing it to last longer between battery replacement.

While a single battery for a quartz watch can normally last a few years, a pocket watch with kinetic movement should lengthen that time by perhaps another year or so.

Automatic Movement

Automatic, also known as self-winding, is a watch movement not really found in pocket watches as it is designed to self-wind by the movement of your body.

Given that pocket watches don’t rest directly on your skin, this movement simply doesn’t make sense for a pocket watch – but instead a wristwatch.

Therefore, if you see a pocket watch marketed as automatic or self-winding, approach it with a skeptical eye.

Solar (concept)

A concept that hasn’t been realized fully yet, at BASELWORLD 2018 (the world’s largest watch conference), Citizen had introduced a concept solar pocket watch celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Able to be powered by sun light, it was a concept that really made a splash.

While we hope to see this available one day (for collector reasons anyways) chances are slim given that pocket watches naturally see very little daylight.

Which should you go with?

Mechanical movement is great if you want that old-time antique feel to your pocket watch.

However, if you want to just simply set your watch once and don’t want the regular time maintenance of a mechanical pocket watch, quartz or kinetic will be a better pick.

It is worth noting that quartz movement is a modern invention for watches and isn’t time tested.  If you want a family heirloom piece, you may be better off going with a mechanical pocket watch here.

Waterproof

Whether your daily job finds you in water-prone areas, or perhaps you just simply want a bit of extra protection should you be stuck in a sudden rainstorm, you might want to consider a waterproof pocket watch.

Most modern pocket watches we reviewed can withstand about 30m / 100ft of pressure.

This of course varies from one brand to another.

Therefore, you will want to verify this with the company before making a purchase if it’s an important feature to you.

Now if you decide to get an old school pocket watch from the early 1900s (or earlier), they aren’t going to be waterproof.

Making them very susceptible to damage from liquids.

Brand

As is often the case with watches and fashion, brand name is equally important as the movement and design of the watch itself.

Therefore, if you are looking for a collector’s pocket watch, then you should consider a brand that has a rich history in this product category.

During our research we came across the following pocket watch brands that have been put out some quality pocket watches over the years:

  • Elgin
  • Charles Hubert
  • Danbury
  • Geneva
  • Pencron
  • Quintel
  • Waltham
  • Patek Philippe
  • Tissot
  • Bulova
  • Hamilton

Price

Whether you are buying a potential family heirloom piece or one that is more decorative, pocket watches can vary wildly in price.

For one of acceptable quality, expect to pay around $100 to $500.

Those priced below $100 will often compromise on both the quality of the metal case along with the crystal.

Pocket watches with a price tag greater than $500 often have both precious metals for the case (gold, silver, or platinum) along with a beautiful sapphire crystal.

It’s worth noting that watches priced above $500 may appreciate over the years.  However, this isn’t certain and is worth researching should you wish you resell your pocket watch at some point in the distant future.

Size & Weight

Given that pocket watches are intended to be carried with you and easily accessible, the size and weight of your pocket watch is important.

You don’t want a watch that will be too unwieldy or simply weigh down your pocket in an ill-fitting manner.

Most pocket watches have a case diameter of about 45 mm (which is about the size of a slightly larger wristwatch), and weight around 75g (~2.5oz).  For reference an iPhone X weighs about 6 ounces.

Jewels

When reviewing pocket watches, particularly antique pocket watches, you will often see the mention the number of jewels on the pocket watch – usually either 17 or 26 jewels.

You might be wondering what this exactly means.

While it sounds both elegant and expensive (and of course watch companies want you to think this), the jewels within pocket watches are there to serve a functional purpose in reducing friction between the movement mechanisms in mechanical watches (source).

They carry with them no additional value for the pocket watch itself.

The only exception to this would be with pocket watches made in the 1800s.

Nearly all modern pocket watches use synthetic ruby or sapphire to reduce the friction between the movement, whereas old antique pocket watches may (but not always) use real ruby, diamond, or garnet – this would only likely be prevalent in really old pocket watches.

Chain & Fob

The quintessential accessory to the pocket watch is the chain and fob.

Pocket Watch Chains

Pocket watch chains typically measure about 14″ (or 35cm) in length.

Now depending on where you plan on storing your pocket watch be it in the vest of a 3-piece suit or simply your pants pocket, you may want to get a chain that is either longer or shorter than what originally came with your pocket watch.

Many companies do offer different chain lengths.

However, if the watch you select doesn’t have other chain lengths to choose from, there are several online or brick-and-mortar stores that offer differing chain lengths that come in a variety of metals in order to seamlessly compliment your new pocket watch.

Fobs

More of an accent piece than serving any true function, pocket watch fobs are placed on the end of the chain and can vary in both design and size.

Similar to cufflinks, fobs are a great way to showcase your own personal style.

Best Pocket Watches of 2019 Reviewed

1. Tissot Savonnette Pocket Watch

Best Overall

Swiss watch maker Tissot is one of the few highly regarded modern watch companies that still makes a pocket watch.  Unlike so many that have streamlined their product catalog, Tissot offers a variety of pocket watches including this Savonnette pocket watch.

What makes the Savonnette so special is that it effortlessly balances between both being an affordable pocket watch while still carrying on the Tissot legacy.

The compromises made in this pocket watch include the reliance on a mineral crystal and a Swiss quartz movement.

These compromises make for a much more affordable price tag that is well within reach for many.

With a 48.5 mm round case design, it should fill out your palm nicely while also carrying a bit of heft.  Made from stainless steel, the watch will naturally resist water and never have rust build up along the edges – making it a potential pocket watch to pass down from one generation to the next (although quartz still hasn’t proven itself given that its a rather new invention).

One unique feature within this pocket watch has to do with the face.  With roman numeral markings along with a date view at the 6 o’clock mark, you should have all the critical information at just a glance.

While the mineral crystal isn’t nearly as hard as sapphire found in some of the higher end watches available, the hunter case will fully protect the window when not in use.

Overall it’s a great value and great quality, especially from Tissot.

Type: Swiss quartz

Pros

  • Beautiful Swiss made time piece
  • Affordable considering the craftsmanship
  • Hunter case offers added protection

Cons

  • Compromises on both crystal and movement

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for a nice pocket watch but don't want to spend a fortune, this is one of the best modern offerings out there. The Swiss craftsmanship is second to none.

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2. Hamilton 992B Railroad Pocket Watch

Best As A Family Heirloom

The Hamilton 992B was one of the most popular brands of watches used by the trainmen in the early-to-mid 20th century.

Made in the Lancaster, PA by the Hamilton Watch Company, it truly is a remarkable timekeeping piece.

While the 992B pictured above is by far one of their most notable models, Hamilton made a variety of other pocket watches which include the following:

While their roots were once based here in the United States, they are now part of Swatch (you can learn more about their history here).

But back to the Hamilton 992B and what makes it so special.

Most notably, the American craftsmanship.  Widely considered to be among the finest jewelry that this country has ever produced, the Hamilton 992B Railway Special gave the watch owner a clear and easy to read view of the time.

But what makes this watch even more special is when the back case is removed.  There you can see an intricate view of the inner workings of how this pocket watch operates.

Needless to say, it worked well for the trainmen at that time.

Of course, with the adoption of the wrist watch, the Hamilton 992B eventually fell out of style.

If you want to learn more about the history of this unique pocket watch, we recommend checking out this page – it was by far the greatest resource we came across when learning about the Hamilton 992B.

When searching sites like eBay, you can routinely find this watch still available for a few hundred dollars (prices naturally vary greatly depending on both watch condition and time of year).

While absent of any sort of waterproof protection or sapphire window, it is a beautiful watch that deserves to be passed down from one generation to the next.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Rich in history and accurate time keeping
  • Elegant design showcases fine American craftsmanship
  • Mechanical design will work for generations
  • Great choice if buying for a pocket watch collection

Cons

  • Must be serviced regularly at a jewelry store
  • Lack of any hunter case exposes the mineral window
  • Watch chain must often be purchased separately

What You Need To Know

If you want a family heirloom pocket watch, the Hamilton 992B is rich with history, especially if you live in the USA. It's one of the last great pocket watches ever made.

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3. Bulova Pocket Watch

Best Watch Under $200

Bulova is well known for their high-quality time pieces, and this pocket watch is no exception.

Featuring a classic hunter case and face that draws the eyes exactly where they need to be, this watch is as elegant as it is affordable. To make the watch personal, there are places for engraving on either the back, front, or inside font for further customization.

Given that this is made with modern design aesthetics including the Arabic numbers (instead of roman numerals) along with a second hand and date window, this pocket watch is ideal for both casual and formal occasions.

The chain of this pocket watch also features a strong clip at the end that can be easily fastened down.

If you plan on getting this as a gift, this watch does include a presentation box.

While it’s one of the better pocket watches under $200, the Bulova does make some compromises on both the crystal and movement.

Unlike many of the other pocket watches reviewed, this one relies on quartz movement (battery powered) instead of mechanical movement and has a mineral glass crystal.

The crystal likely won’t be too big of a deal, given that its behind a hunter style case, but the movement hasn’t withstood the test of time like more classic mechanical watches.

Type: Japanese Quartz

Pros

  • Classic hunter pocket watch with a modern twist
  • Elegant design makes it well suited for both formal and casual scenarios
  • Inside case can be engraved for customization

Cons

  • Has compromising materials

What You Need To Know

Overall, this is an excellent watch with superior time-keeping power. Great as a gift, but no one will blame you if you want to keep this one for yourself!

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4. Stuhrling Vintage Mechanical Pocket Watch

Best For Gift Giving

If you’re looking for a classic vintage pocket watch to keep you on time, then the Stuhrling watch may be what you are looking for. Featuring a skeleton dial and roman numerals around the edges, it is a beautiful watch.

Whether you are giving it as a gift or simply buying it for yourself, the 23K gold presents itself incredibly well.

To help keep the cost much lower, Stuhrling relies on their own proprietary Krysterna crystal on both the front and backside of the watch.

While absent of any traditional hunter case (so you will have to be careful), the crystal should still be strong enough to resist some surface scratches and scuffs.

Given that this is mechanical pocket watch, it doesn’t rely on a battery, and will need to be wound about once a day.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Glass front and back allow you to see the interworkings
  • Roman numeral dial gives it a vintage feel
  • 23K gold case is beautiful
  • One of the best watches under $100

Cons

  • Great for formal use, but perhaps not as a heirloom

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for a new pocket watch that is elegant and antique looking, then the Sturhling makes a great choice. This mechanical skeleton pocket watch is both affordable and beautiful - makes as a great gift.

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5. Charles-Hubert Pocket Watch (Classic Collection)

Best Skeleton Design

The Charles-Hubert Paris pocket watch is similar to the Stuhrling, though perhaps a bit more ornate. It features the skeleton face and a small inner dial. The back is also clear, allowing you to view all the elegant and intricate gears as the watch keeps time.

This classic railroad style watch has an open face design which allows you to easily check the time in an efficient manner.  Made from brass, this watch is incredibly durable.

In addition to the watch, Charles-Hubert does also include a steel chain with clip (not pictured) and navy blue and black gift box.

While the movement of this watch is listed as Swiss Automatic, it is a classic mechanical pocket watch that must be hand wound daily.

As is the case with all watches from the Classic Collection, Charles-Hubert offers a lifetime warranty on the movement of the watch.

Customers love how heavy this watch is in their hand. It’s got a nice feel to it; but not too heavy that it weighs down your pocket.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Skeleton dial provides view access of the inner workings
  • Movement backed by a lifetime warranty
  • Beautiful blue dials contrast nicely against the gears

Cons

  • Made from brass and may tarnish over time

What You Need To Know

The perfect pocket watch from the Classic Collection beautifully showcases Charles-Hubert craftsmanship. The skeletal dial is a conversation starter and one that you will want to keep looking at.

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6. Regent Hills Open Face Mechanical Pocket Watch

Best Watch Under $500

Unlike the Tissot or the Avalon, this pocket watch by Regent Hills is an open faced pocket watch. While this does expose the mineral glass to the elements, it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the watch.

Additionally, the partially skeleton watch face and back is stunning to look at, and makes for a fantastic conversation piece.

It has a dual time display, as well as a 60 second face, a long stainless steel chain, and durable mineral crystal glass to keep this watch going. It also relies on mechanical winding which keeps accurate time for about two days.

Men love the way this pocket watch looks, due to it being so ornate, but they also like the way it feels. It’s a heavier, bigger pocket watch that sits nicely in the pocket, and with the addition of the skeleton face, it’s a timepiece that is certainly timeless.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Time-tested mechanical movement
  • Dual time display
  • Skeleton front and back is beautiful

Cons

  • Expensive

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for a gift or simply want a great pocket watch that's under $500 then the Regent Hills is a fine choice. The dual time display coupled with the open face design gives you critical information at a glance.

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7. Avalon Skeleton Pocket Watch

Pocket watches are a very personal timepiece, more so than a wristwatch or a cellphone. For many, a pocket watch is a symbol for getting older, but for some, it’s a fashionable statement.

This mechanical pocket watch by Avalon is a thing of beauty as it not only has a skeleton front face, but back side as well allowing you to see completely through the skeleton dial.

While the watch appears as a smooth silver, to keep its lower price point, Avalon relies on a durable stainless steel instead.

While stainless steel isn’t a precious metal like silver, it will be able to withstand much more abuse.

Included with this mechanical pocket watch is a 14″ steel link chain that gives you a great range of motion whether you decide to store the watch in your pocket or vest.

As is the case with most mechanical pocket watches, you will have to hind wind this pocket watch about once every day or so in order to keep accurate time.

Backed by a 2 year warranty, it’s a fine watch that may look expensive, but has a much more friendly price tag.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • 17 jewel mechanical pocket watch keeps accurate time
  • Smooth stainless steel alloy body will resist damage
  • Roman numerals give it a classic pocket watch feel

Cons

  • Lack of hunter case may cause the crystal to be scratched
  • Relatively unproven watch maker

What You Need To Know

Overall this is a fine pocket watch for someone just getting into horology. The skeleton pocket watch design along with the roman numeral marketings will always remain timeless.

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8. Gotham Open Face Pocket Watch

Like the Hamilton 992B, this pocket watch features an open face design for quick and easy time keeping. While it is simple in design, the expert craftsmanship makes this a phenomenal conversation starter.

With a slightly smaller size, this open face pocket watch can easily be tucked away in either a vest or pant pocket.

The stainless steel chain is great for keeping your watch secure when you are outside the home.

Overall we think that this open face pocket watch is perfect for those men just starting to get into horology.

The Arabic numbers on the watch face coupled with the inset PM (military time) hours are a classic design that gives it a more upscale and functional look.

While it may not be an heirloom piece like the Hamilton 992B, it is extremely functional and modern.

Type: Japanese Quartz

Pros

  • Great railroad design allows easy time tracking at a glance
  • Included stainless steel chain should hold up well
  • Japanese quartz movement should keep accurate time for years
  • Classic pocket watch that offers a timeless style

Cons

  • Quartz movement still hasn’t been proven

What You Need To Know

If you like the look of open face pocket watches and don't want to pay a fortune, then this is one of the better watches for under 100. The open case and crystal will display the time beautifully.

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9. Spovan Digital Pocket Watch

Best Digital Pocket Watch

This pocket watch is an interesting piece because instead of the standard analog dial, it is a digital pocket watch. This allows the pocket watch to have numerous other functions like a barometer, thermometer, and even a altimeter. Essentially, if you find yourself outdoors often and want a few more functions rather than simple time keeping, then this digital pocket watch is a great choice.

With a built in water resistance of 30M (100′), it can withstand getting wet without losing complete functionality.

To further lend to the ruggedness of this digital pocket watch, the Spovan PeleusTech relies a on thick and smooth silver chrome case that will fit well into the palm of your hand.

Unlike other pocket watches that are clad with a stainless steel chain, this pocket watch relies on a synthetic necklace.

Given that it’s made from an metal alloy rather than something a bit more lightweight, many men have said that it is a bit heavy.

If you aren’t completely sold on the one dimension of a pocket watch and are looking for greater value in the form of additional functionality, then this digital pocket watch is a great selection.

Type: Digital

Pros

  • Highly functional digital pocket watch
  • Made from a smooth chrome case giving it added ruggedness
  • Water resistant body should do well when outdoors

Cons

  • It’s a bit heavy when compared to others

What You Need To Know

If you find yourself outdoors often and want functional time keeping piece that is also a barometer, thermometer, and even an altimeter, then this digital pocket watch is a great pick. Perfect for men who love Swiss-army type products, this watch does a bit of everything.

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10. SIBOSUN Antique Skeleton Mechanical Pocket Watch

Fully embracing both the mechanical and skeleton design, this pocket watch by SIBOSUN is the ultimate conversation starter when it comes to pocket watches.

Completely transparent on both the front and back, it gives you an inside look through the skeleton dial as to how a pocket watch truly works.

Unlike so many other pocket watches priced under $200, this pocket watch relies on mechanical movement that must be wound daily (about 10 to 15 times) in order to keep accurate time.

Rather than having a hunter case like many others, this pocket watch is an open case – evoking the same style as the classic railroad pocket watches (almost touching on steampunk design as well).

However, it’s not without its faults.

Most notably will be the time markings.

Unlike railroad pocket watches and even those prior to the 19th century, this pocket watch has very minimal time markings on the face.

Given that its fully skeleton dial, the simple line markings rather than Roman Numerals or Arabic numbers will slow down its efficiency when checking the time.

Another compromising on the design is the crystal.

It’s made from acrylic.

Making this a costume purchase rather than an heirloom piece that you can pass down to future generations.

Flaws aside, it still is a great little pocket watch that is affordably priced.  The mechanical skeleton design is great for those looking to get their very first pocket watch.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • This skeleton dial provides one of the best unobstructed views of the gears at work
  • The open face design on both the front and back is rarely found in pocket watches
  • Great pick for the money
  • Borders on steampunk design

Cons

  • Acrylic crystal makes this ideal for casual use

What You Need To Know

If you want a skeleton pocket watch yet don't want to put out several hundred dollars, then this watch is great alternative.

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11. Steampunk Pocket Watch

Best Steampunk Design

Like the dragon pocket watch we reviewed, this is another one with roman numerals and an interesting color palette. However, instead of browns and golds, this one is black and blue. The case is intricately designed with swirls and gears evoking a steampunk style that will be sure to turn a few heads.

It comes with a long chain with a clip, so you can safely store it in your pocket without fear of it coming loose.

It uses mechanical movement to remain precise for several hours between winding, making it great for those that want that antique feel.

If you are doing a bit of cosplay or you simply love the steampunk style that is found in so many video games like Final Fantasy or Cyberpunk, it does a great job at blending those lines.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great for casual use
  • Steampunk design will generate conversations

Cons

  • Compromising components

What You Need To Know

This is the perfect steampunk pocket watch. With a mix of both modern and antique design aesthetics it functions well as a casual time keeping piece.

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12. Carrie Hughes Mechanical Skeleton Pocket Watch

This handsomely crafted watch has got to be one of the most intricate watches on this list. The case is phenomenal; it features a carving of a Chinese lung dragon alongside a fiery phoenix, all surrounded by clouds engraved in an Oriental style.

Where there is no metal, the watch can be seen clearly underneath, and when you open it up, a fantastic gold and brown color-scheme makes for a beautiful frame around the golden gears that make this watch run.

The hands are very fine, with the hour hand being more ornate than the minute hand. Roman numerals in a deep rose gold decorate the outside, set upon what appears to be wood.

This is an ideal gift for yourself or someone you love; it’s positively phenomenal, and incredibly cheap.

Type: Mechanical hand-wind

Pros

  • Great costume or casual pocket watch that will strike a conversation
  • Mechanical movement
  • Cheap price

Cons

  • Highly compromising components allow for a lower price

What You Need To Know

The unique hunter style case features a dragon and phoenix that will be sure to start a conversation or two. With an affordable price, it makes for a great casual piece.

Read hundreds of other reviews here on Amazon.

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13. Mudder Vintage Pocket Watch

Protected behind a hunter case, the Mudder vintage pocket watch is the perfect little costume companion to take with you when outdoors.

While sure, its a quartz pocket watch that has an acrylic crystal, it functions well for simply keeping time.

With the oversized Arabic numbers coupled with the larger hour, minute, and second hands, you can easily get the precise time when simply flipping this case open.

Whether you are purchasing this as a conversation starter, costume design, or as a unique gift, it presents extremely well given the price.

Type: Japanese Quartz

Pros

  • Vintage-inspired look gives it a antique and classic style
  • Affordable
  • Hunter case protects the fragile crystal

Cons

  • It’s not an heirloom piece like others reviewed

What You Need To Know

If you want a simple quartz movement pocket watch that will complement your style, then this pocket watch by Mudder makes a fine choice.

Read hundreds of other reviews here on Amazon.

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How to Care for Your Pocket Watch

When it comes to getting the most from your new pocket watch, we strongly recommend that you read the user manual that came with it.

Caring for your new pocket watch will largely depend on both the metal and crystal that the watch relies upon.

Whether its stainless steel, silver, gold, brass, etc. each metal will have its own care instructions.

Furthermore, some pocket watches, particularly those that are antique, or vintage may require them to be oiled.

If this is the type of pocket watch you purchased, then you will want to bring your watch to a trusted jeweler.

Trying to service and oil a pocket watch yourself may very likely lead to incidental damage.

Common Questions About Pocket Watches

When researching all the types of pocket watches available to purchase, we kept seeing the same questions that came up time and time again, therefore, we wanted to take a quick minute to answer any of these questions should they currently be on your mind:

What is a good family heirloom pocket watch?

Of all the modern pocket watch brands being made today, Tissot represents one of the finest qualities currently available.

They make a variety of pocket watches that are available at different price points, movements, and crystals.

Made in Switzerland, they carry on the quality that many collectors seek in timekeeping pieces.

Should I buy an old pocket watch and have it restored?

Given that pocket watches aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, many collectors like to buy watches that were highly regarded years ago.

Some of the famous pocket watch brands that collectors gravitate to are the following:

  • Hamilton
  • Waltham
  • Elgin
  • Ball
  • Illinois

A list of notable watchmakers and the companies that they worked for can be found here.

These brands feature intricate details and movement that still look beautiful today.

Many trusted jewelers should have no problem servicing these watches as well.  However, we would strongly recommend that you do your research before having them work on your pocket watch.

How come pocket watches aren’t as popular anymore?

From our understanding, in the 1800s and earlier, pocket watches were largely a status symbol of the wealthy.

However, later in the 1800s railroads were quickly spreading across America.

At this time, many of the railroads shared a single track and were running into each other due to ill-timed trains.

Not only did this wreak havoc on the transportation system but it also became a risk for those working on the railroads at that time.

To stop these accidents from occurring, railroad companies such as the New York Central Railroad put out a request to watch companies to create a pocket watch that had Arabic numbers (instead of roman numerals) and to keep accurate time (+- 30 seconds) for a few weeks at a time.

This allowed the watchmen on the train to keep strict time schedules that would prevent accidents from occurring.

To ensure consistent time keeping across the entire train fleet, the watchmen had to bring their pocket watch to inspectors and have them synchronized.

This ushered in a time of when pocket watches were made to serve a function rather than a fashion statement.

Furthermore, when World War 1 came about, pocket watches were replaced by trench watches which allowed the commanding officers to quickly check the time without having to search their pockets and likely to keep their hands on their rifles if necessary (source).

The easy and efficient function of the trench watch quickly replaced the pocket watch as the standard.

Where to buy pocket watches?

Depending on the type of pocket watch you plan to purchase will oftentimes dictate the retailer.

If you are looking for an authentic antique pocket watch then there is no better place to go than either a local specialty jewelry or antique store.

There you can often see for yourself just how elegant these old time pieces are with your own hands.

Now if you live in an area where there is simply no jewelry stores around that carry pocket watches, then the next best alternative would be online.

In addition to vintage pocket watches, many of the following online retailers also have a wide variety of modern pocket watches as well:

Best Pocket Watch: Selection Process

Selecting the best pocket watch of 2019 was rather difficult.  With a mix of both modern and antique pocket watches available, its was hard to sift through all the options.

However, we feel confident that our list above is one of the most comprehensive available.

We hope that the information contained within this buying guide proved useful in finding the perfect pocket watch for you.

About The Author

Shawn Burns

Shawn is the founder and senior editor at Tools of Men, the leading style and grooming source trusted by men in 187 countries. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. He is an expert in all things men's grooming related. His work has been mentioned on countless sites including AskMen, Vice, WikiHow, and the New York Times.

2 thoughts on “13 Best Pocket Watches That Are Timeless Classics”

  1. Gary Robinson says:

    Shawn: I found your article very helpful in my search for a pocket watch. One correction you might want to consider regarding the Armourlite Tritium Watch, tritium does not charge in the sun and then glow in low light conditions. It continually glows; one just can’t see that in daylight. I have several quality tritium equipped wrist watches and they work great! Tritium is the radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen and it has many uses. It is used as a radioactive tracer, in radioluminescent light sources for watches and instruments. In addition to being used as a component in nuclear weapons, as a radioactive label in chemistry lab work, as a tracer for biological and environmental studies, and for controlled nuclear fusion, tritium is used for self-powered lighting (https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-tritium-607915). – Gary

    1. Shawn Burns says:

      Hey Gary,

      Thanks for the insight! Updated the article and linked to a Wiki article that can better explain the science behind it than I can. 🙂

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