Although pocket watches are essentially a single design, there are a few different aesthetic elements that greatly affect the way the pocket watch is used and displayed. These elements can determine the value and age of the watch, as well as being ultimately more or less attractive to each owner and potential buyer.
Collectors tend to stick with one particular design over all others, or one well-known brand that specialised in a certain design. Pocket watches are often classified by the type of face display they are endowed with - there are five main types: open-face, half hunter, full hunter, double hunter and the half double hunter.
The open face pocket watch is self-explanatory; its design has no cover and the time can be read without having to remove any obstructions. Open face pocket watches are quite common nowadays, but were not at all popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly as the porcelain faces used could be damaged easily and needed the additional protection of a cover. This is why the full hunter was developed: a pocket watch complete with a cover that opened and closed on a hinge.
The full hunter pocket watch design often featured an ornately engraved outer casing with initials or even a picture or photograph displayed on the inner. Timekeeping, however, could become quite a hassle when the cover had to be opened every time the owner wanted to check the time, and this is why the half hunter was invented.
The half hunter pocket watch featured a cover that included a crystal or hole that allowed the owner to see the hands of the watch without having to open it - making reading the time much easier than a full hunter case.
The double hunter pocket watch has many of the same features as the Full Hunter - with the front face of the pocket watch covered with a protective lid - but the difference with a double hunter case is that there is a lid which opens on the back of the pocket watch too. This is designed so that the mechanical movements of the pocket watch can be viewed. It also makes the pocket watch easy to stand on its own so that the time can easily be read. On double hunter pocket watches, the ''12'' would be located just below the stem of the pocket watch; which would mean when the watch is sitting on its own, the time would be facing the correct way.
The double half hunter pocket watch is a combination of the double hunter and the half hunter pocket watches. It has all the features of a double hunter pocket watch, which includes having a front and back hinged lid which fully opens, but the difference is that it has a window on the front lid of the pocket watch, which then enables you to view the dial of the pocket watch whilst having the luxury of a protective covering to prevent the dial from being damaged. With these pocket watches you can also have the option of having a pocket watch with viewable mechanical movements from the front or the back of the pocket watch, which gives it a beautiful antique feel to it.
Another factor to consider with pocket watch design is the placement of their stem (sometimes referred to as the pendant). Traditionally the stem would be located above the ''12'' on an open-face pocket-watch, allowing the owner to hold the watch by the pendant and read the time. Full and half hunter pocket watches, however, would traditionally have the stem located next to the ''3'' so that the watch could be held by the stem with one hand whilst the cover was opened with the other.
There are many different designs available for all these types of pocket watches, with polished and brushed finished covers, silver, gold, engraved patterns with shields, chrome, viewable mechanical movements, rose gold plated, silver & gold plated, masonic pocket watches - the list is huge. If you're looking for something in particular, it would be hard not to find exactly what you are looking for here at Pocket Watch.
Lastly, another consideration in choosing your pocket watch is selecting the right movement for you. Take a look at our informational page which helps you choose which movement is right for you.