When a character in my historical novel, American Gold, wanted to know the time, would he or she check a pocket watch or a wrist watch? Another one of those nitpicking details I needed to check that had nothing to do with the plot!
Because American Gold takes place during 1911- 1913, my male characters would check a pocket watch to see the time or to determine compass direction. Prior to the war, a women might wear a wrist watch, but a “real man” would not.
During World War I, soldiers discovered how inconvenient it was to take out your pocket watch when you were otherwise occupied. After WWI, men began to change to wristwatches.
The watch to the left is similar to my grandfather’s silver one. When I took it to an appraiser, I learned that the chains on these old watches are often worth more than the watch.
If you’re wondering how to use a watch to determine north/south, you can find out here.
My grandmother also had a pocket watch, but hers could also be attached to a decorative pin and worn as a brooch. The gold case is elaborately decorated with scroll work and yellow, white, and rose gold.
Although her watch no longer works, I can’t bear to part with it because it is so beautiful. It’s similar to the one pictured on the right, but the photo does not do it justice.
These mementos of days past remind me that our ancestors appreciated the extra work required to make utilitarian things beautiful.
A friend once said her father told her, “surround yourself with beautiful things.” I smile just thinking about that. It’s one way to make our personal worlds a little more beautiful.