Blog by Gifts of Ireland

How to Wear a Pocket Watch - The Art of the Celtic Watch

celtic pocket watch


The Irish Pocket Watch

Pocket watches are said to have originated as early as the 14th century, where they were referred to as pocket clocks. The early concepts contained only the hour hand and not the minute hand but later the minute hand was added. The creation of a watch has always been a specialist craft, and many hours go into creating a beautiful working system of wheels and hands. Pocket watches are now seen as a statement piece and you will see many being worn in different styles. They prove to be a great gift for the groomsmen at a wedding. The Irish Celtic pocket watches are a popular item because not only are they a creation to behold on the inside, but they are also decorated beautifully with the symbolism of Celtic Ireland on the outside.

Although some tweaks have been made and the range of designs has increased over the past century, the way to style a pocket watch has remained largely unchanged. Here is an overview of the different types of pocket watch chain and how to style each.

The classic way to wear a pocket watch is at the end of a chain (called a fob) in your vest or waistcoat pocket. The fob should pass through the buttonholes in the middle and terminate in a pocket on the other side, anchored by another object such as a cigar cutter. However, there are other types of pocket watch chains available to allow you to safely attach your timepiece to your clothing. Here is an overview of the types of chains, and afterwards we give you some tips on how to wear your pocket watch.

Chain Styles

The T-Bar Chain

The T-bar is a versatile chain that comes with the watch, and gives you the option to wear it attached to the inside of a waistcoat. The T-Bar chain is probably the best option if you are wearing your pocket watch to a wedding or more formal event. This chain allows the watch to be placed easily and securely in your pocket, while leaving the chain displayed. 


 The T-bar used with a waistcoat


The Bolt Chain and Belt Bar

If you're not wearing a waistcoat, the bolt or belt chain is a good option to go for. These chains allow you to attach the watch to a more casual ensemble. The chains can be supplied in different levels of thickness, depending on the occasion you are wearing it for.


Pocket watch with belt bar for a more casual look


How to Wear a Pocket Watch

For an Occasion 

You'd sometimes see this ensemble at a wedding, with the groomsmen wearing their watches attached to their waistcoats for the occasion. Yes, they may have the time on their iPhone in their back pocket, but that doesn't exude the sophistication that the occasion calls for! To wear a pocket watch with a three-piece suit, you simply bring the chain through one of the button holes and attach the fob to one of the pockets. Instead of the fob, a T-bar can be used or a bolt ring as displayed above. 

If you're wearing a suit that does not include a waistcoat, you can still wear a pocket watch. Simply bring the chain through a buttonhole in your suit jacket instead. You can also use a belt loop chain to slip the watch into the pocket of your suit trousers.

For Casual Wear

Jeans and a pocket watch, despite what you may think, can be done! The bolt of fob chain is the more casual chain option, or even a leather strap. You could style with dark jeans or chinos, or a fitted style of pant. We suggest pairing your jeans or chinos with an Aran sweater or crisp shirt for a simple yet clean, put-together look.


 Leather strap attachment with T-bar style


Wearing a Pocket Watch at Work

    Not many jobs involve throwing on the newsboy cap and heading out to the farm or the building site these days, but nevertheless the pocket watch can still be a useful way to tell the time without the distraction of a watch around your wrist. If you choose to bring a pocket watch with you, make sure that the chain is a heavy durable one and attach it to your overalls. Make sure it's safely tucked into your pocket to avoid it getting caught up in any tools.


    We believe that the Irish traditional style pocket watch is a timeless accessory and a statement piece that is here to stay. How you wear it is up to you. With so many watch faces and designs to choose from, there is always a piece for you. We leave you with a video of how the Mullingar Pewter pocket watches are made in the midlands of Ireland: 


    Looking for something to complement your pocket watch? Now that you know how to wear a pocket watch, why not browse our men's traditional Irish clothing for a tweed cap or waistcoat to complete your look! Or, have a look at our other Irish gifts for men for some gift inspiration.

    I am also delighted to offer you a 10% discount coupon on your purchase of our pocket watches. Use POCKET10 at the checkout when you add your favorite watch to your shopping basket and enjoy! Click here for the complete range of watches.


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    1 comment

    • Eli Richardson
      Mar 07, 2023 at 20:13

      I loved your guide about wearing a pocket watch for a special occasion or a casual setting. I’m currently obsessed with pocket watches ever since I started watching a TV show where everyone wears one, so I’ll follow your tips to buy my first pocket watch next week. I appreciate your tips about wearing a pocket watch to add sophistication to your outfit.


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