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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 18K Yellow Gold Link Chain Necklaces
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Two 18K Yellow Gold Link Chain Necklaces
by Nye & Company
Est: $500- $800
$2501 Bid
Uhrkette 750 WG.
Dec 16, 10:00 AM CET
Uhrkette 750 WG.
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,2000 Bids
Watch chain with cachets and watch keys silver.
Dec 08, 11:00 AM CET
Watch chain with cachets and watch keys silver.
by Veilinghuis de Ruiter
Est: €25- €75
€250 Bids
Lot of 3 watch chains, one 585/14K rose gold, 39.15g, length 29cm, one pewter/metal, length 34cm and
Dec 03, 1:00 PM CET
Lot of 3 watch chains, one 585/14K rose gold, 39.15g, length 29cm, one pewter/metal, length 34cm and
by Auktionshaus am See
Est: €0- €0
€5000 Bids
Uhrenkette Um 1900
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Uhrenkette Um 1900
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
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5 UHRENKETTEN, UM 1880
Dec 12, 10:00 AM CET
5 UHRENKETTEN, UM 1880
by Schuler Auktionen
Est: CHF200- CHF400
CHF2000 Bids
Uhrenkette als Collier.
Dec 09, 10:00 AM CET
Uhrenkette als Collier.
by Dannenberg
Est: €850- €1,020
€8500 Bids
Chaîne de montre à maille gourmette
Dec 05, 12:00 PM CET
Chaîne de montre à maille gourmette
by Geneve Encheres
Est: CHF1,200- CHF1,800
CHF1,2000 Bids
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Long Art Nouveau Gold and Rhodolite Garnet Watch Chain
Dec 15, 12:00 PM EST
Long Art Nouveau Gold and Rhodolite Garnet Watch Chain
by Doyle New York
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
Antique, Gold necklace
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Antique, Gold necklace
by Rago Arts and Auction Center
Est: $600- $800
$1000 Bids
A collection of Silver items including Albert watch chain, Ingot, Thimble etc, 91.6g.
Dec 09, 10:00 AM GMT
A collection of Silver items including Albert watch chain, Ingot, Thimble etc, 91.6g.
by Potteries Auctions
Est: £35- £70
£350 Bids
Silver Albert watch chain with shield medaL, 76.3G.
Dec 09, 10:00 AM GMT
Silver Albert watch chain with shield medaL, 76.3G.
by Potteries Auctions
Est: £30- £60
£300 Bids
Pocket-watch chain in 14k gold as well as 3 in silver
Dec 17, 11:00 AM CET
Pocket-watch chain in 14k gold as well as 3 in silver
by Henry's Auktionshaus
Est: €350- €700
€3200 Bids
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €2,400- €3,000
€2,2000 Bids
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €700- €900
€6500 Bids
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €700- €900
€5000 Bids
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
English Victorian gold pocket watch chain - late 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €450- €550
€3000 Bids
French silver and enamel pocket watch chain - 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
French silver and enamel pocket watch chain - 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €200- €300
€1400 Bids
French silver and enamel pocket watch chain - 19th century
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
French silver and enamel pocket watch chain - 19th century
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €200- €300
€1400 Bids
English Victorian sterling silver pocket watch chain - Birmingham 1898
Dec 06, 3:00 PM CET
English Victorian sterling silver pocket watch chain - Birmingham 1898
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €150- €200
€1100 Bids
CATENA DA OROLOGIO IN ORO 9K
Nov 30, 5:00 PM CET
CATENA DA OROLOGIO IN ORO 9K
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €300- €500
€3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Watch Chains


Bertolami Fine Art

Bertolami Fine Art

Henry's Auktionshaus

Henry's Auktionshaus

Greenwich Auction

Greenwich Auction

Potteries Auctions

Potteries Auctions