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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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LADIES BUCHERER SWISS MADE WATCH ON A DOUBLE LONG CHAIN IN BLACK CASE
Oct 28, 9:30 AM AEST
LADIES BUCHERER SWISS MADE WATCH ON A DOUBLE LONG CHAIN IN BLACK CASE
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD559 Bids
Two 14K gold watch fob chains, 32.4 dwt.
Oct 28, 9:00 AM EDT
Two 14K gold watch fob chains, 32.4 dwt.
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $1,100- $1,300
$9204 Bids
GROUP OF 5 ALBERT CHAINS
Oct 27, 10:30 AM BST
GROUP OF 5 ALBERT CHAINS
by Sterling Vault Auctioneers
Est: £80- £120
£401 Bid
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9CT ROSE GOLD ALBERT CHAIN & T-BAR 36.4 GRAMS WEIGHT 36 CM L
Oct 28, 9:30 AM AEST
9CT ROSE GOLD ALBERT CHAIN & T-BAR 36.4 GRAMS WEIGHT 36 CM L
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD600- AUD1,200
AUD6001 Bid
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Drei div. Uhrenketten,älter
Oct 29, 11:00 AM CEST
Drei div. Uhrenketten,älter
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€51 Bid
Old watch chain with original tag
Nov 17, 6:00 PM EST
Old watch chain with original tag
by Captain Ahab's Antiques
Est: $35- $75
$250 Bids
Long watch chain Doublé with
Nov 02, 10:00 AM CET
Long watch chain Doublé with
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€700 Bids
Lot 2 necklaces/watch chaines
Oct 28, 11:00 AM CEST
Lot 2 necklaces/watch chaines
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €120- €480
€1200 Bids
Kurze Uhrkette, GG 585, mit Schlangenanhänger, Bernstein, kleiner Diamant, Altschliff, 19 g
Oct 29, 12:00 PM CEST
Kurze Uhrkette, GG 585, mit Schlangenanhänger, Bernstein, kleiner Diamant, Altschliff, 19 g
by Auktionshaus Plückbaum
Est: €0- €0
€5000 Bids
Modern Watch Chain, 15.5", Gold Tone
Nov 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Modern Watch Chain, 15.5", Gold Tone
by Maria's Vintage & Estate Treasures
Est: $20- $30
$150 Bids
Vintage Retractiable Watch Chain Brooch, Brassy Gold Tone, Early 1930's-1940's
Nov 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Vintage Retractiable Watch Chain Brooch, Brassy Gold Tone, Early 1930's-1940's
by Maria's Vintage & Estate Treasures
Est: $30- $35
$250 Bids
A GENTLEMAN'S WATCH WITH GILT CHAIN
Nov 09, 9:30 AM CET
A GENTLEMAN'S WATCH WITH GILT CHAIN
by Nagel Auction
Est: €400- €401
€4000 Bids
LOTTO DI TRE ANTICHE CATENE PER OROLOGI DA TASCHINO IN ORO
Oct 28, 3:00 PM CEST
LOTTO DI TRE ANTICHE CATENE PER OROLOGI DA TASCHINO IN ORO
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €30- €50
€300 Bids
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Bronzed metal pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Bronzed metal pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€900 Bids
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Silver tailcoat watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Silver tailcoat watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€700 Bids
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Niello pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Niello pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€1200 Bids
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Bundle with 3 pocket watch chains
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Bundle with 3 pocket watch chains
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€900 Bids
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Golden pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Golden pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€6500 Bids
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Golden pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Golden pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€6000 Bids
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Golden pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Golden pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€5500 Bids
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Golden pocket watch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Golden pocket watch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€4500 Bids
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Golden pocketwatch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Golden pocketwatch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€7000 Bids
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Hair pocketwatch chain
Oct 30, 1:00 PM CEST
Hair pocketwatch chain
by Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter
Est: €0- €0
€1300 Bids
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Antique Watch Chains, two gold-plated, one ~10K [136554]
Oct 29, 8:00 AM PDT
Antique Watch Chains, two gold-plated, one ~10K [136554]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $160- $300
$800 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Watch Chains


Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter

Galerie + Auktionshaus Peter Klöter

Albion Antique Auction Centre

Albion Antique Auction Centre

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction