Pocket watches have been around since the 16th century. The early vintage model was of a more square design, and somewhat larger than today's versions. In the early days only the rich were able to own one, as it was a true status symbol of wealth and authority. In the same era, mechanisms were introduced to bring time-telling precision, and some of the earliest models even had an alarm.
In the 17th century clockmakers became instant artists with their different designs and craftsmanship that went into each pocket watch they made. It was around this time that we began to see the cases, and later the dials actually signed by the watchmaker; a tradition that is still followed by the finest watchmakers today.
By the 18th century the use of diamonds in the construction of the pocket watch was beginning to be seen, and the use of oil to smooth the movement of the hands was first introduced. In the last half of the 18th century the use of three hands became the industry standard, making telling time considerably more accurate.
The glory days of the pocket watch came in the 19th century. Watchmakers such as Ulysse Nardin, Minerva, Heuer, IWC, and many others became established in this period. The quality and craftsmanship was further refined during this era, as they were beginning to be produced on an industrial scale. The introduction of the crown winder was also introduced around this period.
By the early 20th century things changed for the watchmakers, certificates were issued to those who created the best design and precision pocket watch. Unfortunately, we began to see their popularity rapidly fading as wristwatches were becoming more and more popular. Although pocket watches are not used as much today, the old antique pocket watch of years gone by played an important role for many centuries.
Today there are many different makes and designs available with some crafted to resemble the antique pocket watches of yesteryear. For the person who wants something just a little different in a time piece, they make very fine gifts, and with all the different designs and colors available today you are sure to find just what you're looking for.
The price range today varies considerably from the just a few dollars to nearly whatever price you are willing to pay. Many may look quite expensive with their faux diamond or jeweled faces, but may cost very little. However, there are still many finely crafted models to be found. Most of the major watch offer excellently crafted specimens.
Without all of the hard work of many days in design and construction that went into the old antique pocket watches of years ago, today's pocket watches are quite inexpensive by comparison. Through time the processes have been refined.
If you're looking for a unique gift for that someone special, have a look at the pocket watches available today. Even if they do not use it as a time piece, I think they will find it a special keepsake to be treasured for a lifetime.