How to collect antique pocket watches

Written by peggy hazelwood
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How to collect antique pocket watches
Collect antique pocket watches for a look into the past. (very old clock image by JoLin from

For a glimpse into yesteryear, collect antique pocket watches. Pocket watches were not commonly made until after 1700. When collecting antique pocket watches, a good reference guide is essential to determine the value of a specific watch. Individual preference for brand, style and age of the watch, will also guide you in finding the right timepiece to suit your taste and budget. Certain antique pocket watches are rare, and that makes them highly collectable but also more expensive.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Seek antique pocket watch forums on the Internet, such as Reading the forum listings is a good way for novice antique pocket watch collectors to learn tips from more experienced collectors. The more seasoned collectors offer advice to new collectors on what to collect, where to look and other topics related to pocket watches.

  2. 2

    Determine the brand, style and age of the antique pocket watches you want to collect. Some collectors start with a watch that was handed down from a family member and look for other timepieces like it. Some collectors only want to collect railroad pocket watches, which were made to be highly accurate timepieces. From 1890 to 1910, standards evolved for how railroad watches would be made. Some collectors look for watches with ornate or unusual designs. Read through a reference guide, such as the Complete Price Guide to Watches, to become familiar with the choices and prices.

  3. 3

    Decide how much you want to spend and if the collection of antique pocket watches will be simply a collection or an investment. Watches can be purchased for a range of prices, all the way up to £6,500 for a Waltham Model Appleton Tracy antique pocket watch. A good starting point may be watches under £32 to £65.

    How to collect antique pocket watches
    Some antique pocket watches include a chain. (watch image by Karol Grzegorek from
  4. 4

    Shop at antique stores when you're ready to collect antique pocket watches. The dealers of watches can often provide background information about their wares and help educate you on specific watches in their inventory. Visit several shops to compare prices, conditions and brands to see what supply of antique pocket watches is available in your area.

  5. 5

    Go online to auction web sites like eBay to compare the inventory of antique pocket watches. In a slow economy, some sellers who are in need of cash sell their collections, so the supply of antique pocket watches may be good and prices lower than normal. Be sure to ask questions of the seller before bidding on an antique pocket watch.

  6. 6

    Attend watch shows, antique shows and flea markets to see antique pocket watches in person before buying them. When sellers can describe features in person, the buyer can become better educated about antique pocket watches they want to collect. Another advantage of shows is the chance to look at individual watches up close to check for defects and workmanship, and to see if the antique watch is in working order.

  7. 7

    Care for your antique pocket watches by displaying and storing them properly. Pocket watch display cases are available online starting at about £19 and go up to £130 or more. These cases have a glass top to protect the watches while still allowing you to view them.

  8. 8

    Protect your antique pocket watch collection by insuring it. Ask the agent you have your homeowner's insurance policy with if they can add a rider to the policy for an additional cost, starting at about £32. A personal possessions policy for about £195 is another option to cover your watches.

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