Historically, jewellery items made for  gentlemen were quite scarce. Apart for pocket watches there were few  “toys for the boys”. The watch chain served as the central focus for  male adornment. Items that were attached to watch chains included medals, fobs, toothpicks pencils, vesta cases, Masonic balls and most commonly, sovereign cases.

Originally, a pocket watch was attached to a single strand of gold or  silver chain, while a fob or decorative ornament was secured to the  opposite end. Grasping the fob, the gentleman would be able to simply  pull the watch out of the trouser pocket with great ease.

In  the Victorian period, the fashion changed to the watch being carried in  the waist coat. The chain was strung from the waistcoat pocket to a  special button hole in the centre of the waistcoat. Originally this was a  single chain, however, Prince Albert of England started the trend of  wearing a double chain, thus utilising both the left and right waistcoat  pockets while giving the gentleman more space for ornaments and  gadgets. These double chains are known as Alberts, they were mainly used  for day wear and featured a swivel on each end with a t-bar in the  centre which passed through the buttonhole. A fine multi-stranded chain  with an ornate slide and tassel was used for more formal occasions. Many  designs were incorporated in the links, but the curb link was by far  the most popular. In America a fine chain that passed though the button  hole without the t-bar was also in vogue.

Watch chains were  mainly crafted in gold and silver, in the 1920’s alternating gold and  platinum links became the fashion. The watch chain passed into history  with the advent of the wrist watch. Today, Albert chains often adorn the  necks women, sometimes incorporating their original accessories  such  as elaborate engraved fobs, watch keys or lockets.

The Albertina was the lady’s equivalent to an Albert chain and will discussed in a future “Learning Lounge”.

-Ronnie Bauer