Do You Have the Time?
When my Grandpa was alive, and in his younger years, he enjoyed "tinkering" as he'd call it. Basically, he'd be in the garage or his basement workshop taking something apart to figure out how it worked only to put it back together again in better shape than he found it. I can still picture him in his red and black check flannel shirt jacket with a trucker cap hunched over some little object at his workbench. One of the items he was constantly picking up at garage or estate sales to tinker with were pocket watches. He didn't discern between collectible, valuable or mass-produced watches - he was just going to tear them apart anyway. He only wanted to see if he could get them running again. It was like his own little challenge to himself. You'd find fixed pocket watches all over my Grandparents' house. He never sold them. He'd give them away to friends and family over the years or leave them in random drawers throughout the kitchen once he was done. I have several he'd given me over the years. I even have the little wooden box with all the gears, extra watch chain and tools he'd used to try and repair these little bits of history.
|My Grandpa's watch repair supplies, a Victorian watch hutch & the centerpiece - an antique pocket watch that my Grandpa once gave me
now nestled in the hutch. I love how the hutch looks like a little piece of furniture!
Recently, I discovered a little more about antique pocket watches. Unlike my Grandpa, rather than leaving their watches randomly strewn throughout the house, the Victorians (and earlier periods!) used these ingenious little "watch hutches" as a place to keep their watches when at home while having them do a bit of 'double duty' as it were. Naturally, upon learning of the existence of these ingenious little devices, I tumbled through the rabbit hole to learn more.
During the 19th Century people used pocket watch hutches as a sort of keeper to protect them from loss or damage. These watch holders also converted any pocket watch into small table or mantel clock for a room that didn't have a clock. They also made perfect bedside clocks, before the advent of alarm clocks. Some pocket watch holders imitated other clock cases, only in miniature. Each evening the pocket watch owner would place his watch into the hole where the clock face would be. Larger versions may have set atop the fireplace mantel or on a desk in the gentleman's study.
|This adorable example is available on Ruby Lane from As Good As Old.
The French called them "porte montre," meaning “watch stand.” Parisian artisans fashioned ornate watch holders for wealthy travelers visiting Paris on the Grand Tour (to learn more about the Grand Tour, click here.). Pocket watches were a necessity during this era and fine shops along the Palais Royal specialized in selling unusual and whimsical accessories to house them.
|This Argentinian watch hutch, circa 1880-1910s, is a recent purchase for my personal collection.
I think it'll be perfect to hold one of the many pocket watches my Grandpa gifted to me over the years.
|Personally, although more rustic & probably handmade, I think this vintage folk art watch hutch from Collectors-Row is a wonderful example made for the mantle. It even opens from the top to provide even more storage options. Talk about character!
|Notice the pocket for the watch in the steeple of this fine porcelain example, circa 1820, from Classic Tradition.
|This circa 1860s ladies' watch holder was created as an upholstered replica of a Jacobean chair features a drawer for pins or button hooks & is available on Etsy from the Quirky Antiques Store. Notice the small hook at the top of the chair to hang the watch from.