Handsome and Useful


Art Nouveau Hammered and Gold-Filled Watch Fob with Cigar Cutter (LEO Design)


The earliest known reference to a pocket watch was in the mid 1400's—though (for many centuries after that) they were strictly the province of the wealthy.  In the Nineteenth Century, improved mass production made pocket watches more affordable and, thus, more common.  Now the middle class (and the professional working class) could afford to buy such a convenience.  Additionally, it was in the second half of the Nineteenth Century that time became increasingly standardized, that is, unified into larger zones across states and counties (mostly to accommodate the boom in railway scheduling).  Prior to this standardization, every village might have its own time zone, based on the local town square clock.  It was during World War One that wrist watches were first manufactured.  Soldiers found it much easier to glance at the wrist rather than use a hand to pull-out and read a pocket watch.  After The Great War, pocket watches became very popular with civilians—and the pocket watch declined in popularity.

Pocket watches usually were worn in a special pocket in a man's vest.  To make retrieval of the watch easy, a chain was attached to the pocket watch and a fob was attached to the opposite end of the chain.  The fob—usually a decorative or impressively sculpted piece of metal—would hang outside of the man's watch pocket.  When the watch was needed, the man would grab the loose fob and pull out the watch with it.  Women's watches, though a little less common, had a similar, more feminine fob.  And men who had active, physical work, might attach the watch chain to a belt loop or button hole (as a fob might be pulled-out accidentally in the course of physical activity).

The Art Nouveau watch fob, shown above, was patented in 1916.  It has a stylized fish-form silhouette, is hammered and then gold-filled.  Note the clever cigar (or cigarillo) cutter near the fish's tail.  A man could use this handsome and useful  watch fob when smoking.  The silvery "fins" could be squeezed together to close the cutter blades.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com)

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248