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The birth and history of pocket watches

Watches are devices that denote time. Watches strapped around the wrist are known as wrist watches and those carried around in the pocket are known as pocket watches.

The Pocket watch made its appearance somewhere in the 16th century. Their use was much in evidence until the period after World War I. It was during this period that the wristwatch began to replace pocket watches. The initial pocket watch was a bulky device and was worn like a chain around the neck. As the pocket watch was developed it became less bulky and easier to carry around in the pocket.

Railroading began to be steadily developed during the last half of the 1800s. This led to an increased usage of the pocket watch. The association of the railroad and the pocket watch occurred due to the famous train wreck that occurred in Kipton Ohio. An engineer’s watch had stopped for four minutes and this led to an improper time resulting in the trains being on the track at the wrong time. In 1893 strict standards were set for the pocket watches of the railroad staff so that no more tragedies of this nature would occur.

Pocket watches are available in two styles namely hunter case and open face pocket watch. As the name suggests the open – face pocket watch is one that does not have a covering for its crystal face. The hunter case style pocket watch has a metal case to close over, thereby protecting its face and crystal from dust, dirt and scratches. In between there is the half hunter type of pocket watches where the face of the watch is covered with glass and is marked. This allows one to read the time without the need to open the watch face.

Like the two different types of pocket watches, watch movements too were different. The initial designs had the time set by a key – wind and key – set movement. In this type a key was used to wind the watch and set the time.

1850 saw the introduction of the stem - wind, stem – set system. In this type the stem was placed on the side of the watch and was turned in order to set the time. With the progression of timeArticle Search, newer methods of setting the time were found.

Pocket watches lost its popularity when wristwatches were introduced. At first the wristwatches were considered feminine but during World War II many officers found that a wristwatch was much easier than using a pocket watch. This led to the trench watch that had the features of both the pocket watch and the wrist watch. 

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