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Watch Chains

Developed initially for functionality, the watch chain grew into a statement piece itself. From the elaborate chatelaines to the dapper fob decoration, watch chains evolved in parallel to the pocket watch to become an essential component of refined dress.

As early pocket watches became more refined, many wearers sought solutions to maneuvering their timepieces without worry of damage or loss. To be sure, these watches were designed to fit snugly into pockets, but the hurried wearer ran the constant risk of dropping or losing ones watch if not adequately attentive when slipping it back into its spot. The solution that emerged for this conundrum was the watch chain, which gave the wearer the freedom to attach his or her watch to a button lapel or belt loop.

Soon after, this utilitarian chain became elaborated, with its links conjured in precious metals like silver and gold and its terminal accented with elegant fobs featuring semi-precious stones and enamel inlays. Thus, antique and vintage watch chains serve as a reminder of both the past popularity of the pocket watch and the sophistication of its wearer.


Quick Facts

  • Watch chains did not emerge until the early years of the 17th century. Before that era, watch chains referred to necklace-like chains on which a portable watch pendant would be suspended
  • Prince Albert, ill-fated spouse of Queen Victoria, is rumored to have popularized the use of the watch chain in 19th-century England
  • To accommodate the day-to-day variety of women’s dress, some women’s watch chains featured an adjustable length

Recommended Items at Auction

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Two Antique Gold Watch Chains
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
Two Antique Gold Watch Chains
by Neue Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$50012 Bids
A STERLING SILVER ALBERT CHAIN
Mar 07, 3:30 PM AEDT
A STERLING SILVER ALBERT CHAIN
by Lawsons
Est: AUD160- AUD260
AUD603 Bids
Corrente de relógio em ouro de 800 milésimos. Peso aprox.: 26,3 g.
Mar 04, 7:00 PM WET
Corrente de relógio em ouro de 800 milésimos. Peso aprox.: 26,3 g.
by Palácio do Correio Velho
Est: €900- €1,800
€1,0003 Bids
10K Gold Ladies Pocket Watch Chain Slide
Mar 03, 9:00 AM MST
10K Gold Ladies Pocket Watch Chain Slide
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $250- $350
$152 Bids
Conjunto de fio e corrente de relógio em ouro 800‰ e outro, Peso total aprox.: 32,85 g.
Mar 04, 7:00 PM WET
Conjunto de fio e corrente de relógio em ouro 800‰ e outro, Peso total aprox.: 32,85 g.
by Palácio do Correio Velho
Est: €1,000- €2,000
€1,2002 Bids
THREE ANTIQUE GOLD PLATED ALBERT CHAINS
Mar 07, 3:30 PM AEDT
THREE ANTIQUE GOLD PLATED ALBERT CHAINS
by Lawsons
Est: AUD60- AUD90
AUD602 Bids
English 9K Yellow Gold Watch Chain, 20th c., L.- 14 in., Wt.- 1.48 Troy Oz.
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
English 9K Yellow Gold Watch Chain, 20th c., L.- 14 in., Wt.- 1.48 Troy Oz.
by Crescent City Auction Gallery
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$8001 Bid
LADY'S GOLD WATCH CHAIN WITH SLIDE
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
LADY'S GOLD WATCH CHAIN WITH SLIDE
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $250- $350
$1251 Bid
Watch chain 18K. - Fantasy link
Mar 06, 6:00 PM CET
Watch chain 18K. - Fantasy link
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €700- €900
€5000 Bids
Watch chain with pillbox pendant, silver.
Mar 06, 11:00 AM CET
Watch chain with pillbox pendant, silver.
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €50- €125
€500 Bids
Antique Bates & Bacon Designer Jewelry Watch Chain
Mar 14, 7:00 PM EDT
Antique Bates & Bacon Designer Jewelry Watch Chain
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$50 Bids
Vintage Antique Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
Mar 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Antique Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $200
$560 Bids
Vintage Antique 56" long Metal Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
Mar 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Antique 56" long Metal Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $200
$440 Bids
Vintage Antique Gold Filled Bock Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
Mar 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Antique Gold Filled Bock Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $200
$350 Bids
Watch chain with pearls 18K.
Mar 06, 6:00 PM CET
Watch chain with pearls 18K.
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €1,250- €1,750
€1,0000 Bids
Watch chain 18K. - Fantasy link
Mar 06, 6:00 PM CET
Watch chain 18K. - Fantasy link
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €1,500- €2,000
€1,1000 Bids
Yellow gold ring link watch chain, g 29.23 circa, length cm 64.5 circa. Marked 107 MI....
Mar 06, 10:00 AM CET
Yellow gold ring link watch chain, g 29.23 circa, length cm 64.5 circa. Marked 107 MI....
by Il Ponte Auction House
Est: €850- €1,000
€8000 Bids
Watch chain 18K.
Mar 06, 6:00 PM CET
Watch chain 18K.
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €2,000- €2,500
€1,5000 Bids
Vintage Antique 10k Signed Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
Mar 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Antique 10k Signed Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $800- $1,000
$4400 Bids
Vintage Antique Germany Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
Mar 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Antique Germany Link Chain Pocket Watch Chain - MAD MEN - Don Draper
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $200
$400 Bids
10K Yellow gold watch chain / necklace with slider and tassel.
Mar 07, 1:00 PM CET
10K Yellow gold watch chain / necklace with slider and tassel.
by Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen
Est: €700- €900
€6000 Bids
UHRKETTE, Portugal,
Mar 23, 10:00 AM CET
UHRKETTE, Portugal,
by zeitGenossen Antiquitäten - Kunst - Design
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Watch Chains


Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter

Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter

Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen

Goudwisselkantoor Veilingen

Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers

Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers

Mebane Antique Auction

Mebane Antique Auction