How the Watch was Worn (Cummins)

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Richard Watkins, Apr 28, 2015.

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  1. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Does someone have this book?

    I am after some general information on how men wore watches near the end of the 18th century.
  2. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    retired SW dev
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    In the early 18th century and earlier, if watches were worn by men they were held with a ribbon around the neck apparently.

    When waistcoats become short enough to see the fob and chain, they were worn in a pocked where the chain could hang down and be seen with its fob. As the waistline went up the pocket followed it to make the chain and fob display higher. This lasted into the 19th century. Men's chains of the wiastcoat or vest pocket type seem to appear around 1850 or maybe a little earlier. She referes to them as Victorian.

    I recall you were there when she mounted her marvelous display in York, PA. There are relatively few references to men's watch wear in her book.
  3. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
    NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member

    Aug 25, 2000
    Horological Bibliographer -
    Sussex New Jersey USA
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    #3 Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, May 7, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2017
    I personally have a copy of the book as published, as well as a printout of the final illustrated manuscript (which the author sent me to write a prepublication bookreview.

    The book is also available for borrowing through the National Watch and clock library.


    The First Book Ever on the Fashion of Wearing a Watch

    How the Watch was Worn - A Fashion for 500 Years. By Genevieve Cummins. Published 2010 by Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, UK. ISBN 978-1-85149-637-2. Hardcover, 272 pages, 30x24 cm. Fully illustrated in color (over 1000 images). US$ XX plus postage. Available at or consult at the National Watch and Clock Library in Columbia Pa.

    It has been about 500 years since people started carrying timekeeping devices around with them on their bodies, so it is a bit surprising that until now there has never been a publication dedicated to the question of 'How to wear a watch?'. Thanks to the Australian author Genevieve Cummins and the British publisher Antique Collectors Club that void has just been filled.

    The book will be formally launched in context of a special exhibit at the 2010 National Convention of NAWCC in Columbia PA in June. Ms. Cummins is the author of the definitive book on 'watch chains' ("Chatelaines - Utility to Glorious Extravagance", 1994, Antique Collectors Club, 311 pages, out of print), horological accessories which take a prominent position in this new title as well. But unlike in her first book, in her second book on the subject she takes a much broader view, going beyond just the object of the watch chain, and examining all the ways in which watches can be worn. In 13 chapters she explores all aspects of the watch as a fashion accessory, covering various watch forms and watch attachments, including various styles of chains and fobs, pouches and pockets, brooches, wristbands, rings, watch guards, watch belts, pendent watches, cufflink watches, etc.

    The core of the book is made up of over 1000 images (most of them in color, many in large format) illustrating historic watches in the context of appropriate period dress. These include historic images (both historic paintings, drawings and engravings showing people with watches, and historic photographs) as well as many newly created photographs combining historic costumes (both for ladies and gentlemen) accessorized with appropriate watches and chains. Separate chapters are dedicated to the 16[SUP]th[/SUP] and 17[SUP]th[/SUP] centuries, the 18[SUP]th[/SUP] century, and the Regency and Victorian eras. There are special sections on such subjects as: Watches for dolls, accessories to store the watch at night, and - the last chapter - the development of the wristwatch as a fashion accessory.

    While this book obviously will appeal to the horological collector with a special interest in the decorative arts aspects of watches, it also offers much new material to other, broader horological enthusiasts: By showing watches in their proper context of people and clothes over the ages it offers countless tidbits of information of the role of watches (and timekeeping) in a broader societal context. Furthermore this book may - in some instances - be just the publication that triggers some interest in watch collecting from a collector's spouse, who hereto had dismissed these objects as only technical toys, oblivious to their aesthetic charms.

    This book is an unusual, but most welcome addition to the horological literature, proving - once again - how multi-facetted learning and studying horology can be.

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki,
    Sussex NJ, March 2009


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