Why I love ... fob watches
In a feature designed to lift self-isolation spirits, we asked people to share their passions.
Here retired lecturer Rob Walls, from East Yorkshire, talks about his love of fob watches.
The time-pieces have seen something of a resurgence thanks to BBC TV thriller series Peaky Blinders.
The White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland also wore a pocket watch, while Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s amateur detective, would be under-dressed without one.
The correct name for a watch collector is a horologist. I don’t consider myself as a horologist as I can’t repair them but I do take off the back and admire the precision of the wheels and the clockwork motion and the beauty and fine detail inside a watch.
I put a small amount of watch oil in and close them up.
I like to keep them wound up and I wear one most days. I do like a nice watch and I have six in working order.
My first pocket watch was a Hunter made of brass. A Hunter has a closed case. It was given to me as a 21st birthday present by my late wife.
This was the mid-1970s at the end of the hippy days. I always wore a denim waistcoat, so the watch looked the part of “being me” and it went along with the badges on my shirt and the patches sewn on my jeans.
I still treasure the watch and it now has a long link chain and a brass claw holding an agate marble.But it’s not just about the watch, it’s the chains and the fobs and all you can attach to them.
I have a World War One trench pocket watch with a World War Two compass on a silver double Albert chain.
This has a 1935 silver sports fob on the T-bar – the bit you put through your buttonhole.
These are all military issue ... we can only imagine the stories they could tell.Among my eclectic collection of fobs, I have a pocket barometer by Aitchison, of London. This was before he met Mr Dolland and opened an optician’s.
I also own a pomander on a single chain, chatelaine, propelling pencil and, my latest addition that I do treasure, small 1920s mirror that has an Egyptian pyramid look.
I also have a number of watch stands which are on my bedside cabinet – all with a different watch to hold.
I have stands with steel cases on leather straps to hold miners’ watches and an ornate white marble one.
However, the star lot is a Mauchline Ware stand with a picture of Bridlington sea front.
It holds my gold pocket watch with a gold double Albert chain, gold compass fob and a gold letter seal on the other end. That’s the one which is worth the money.
I do have a small wooden pillar box with a round glass front which holds my 1950s Dan Dare pocket watch. This one I dropped but I had it repaired for all the right sentimental reasons.
As I wear a watch you have to wear a waistcoat to show it off. The denim one is long gone but I do own a number of them, essential wear for the ageing hippy along with shirt and jeans without the patches.
My hippy days are still with me, as I do have a few badges and brooches, but the hair is a lot shorter these days.
I like to spend my time looking for the more unusual things in the ‘time-piece world’. I visit antique fairs and car boot sales looking for the next addition to my collection. I would like to think my son or grandson would like them in the future.
Watches, chains, fobs, stands and waistcoats are inseparable and should all stay together.
They are of course still of use to tell the time and they do look good when you are dressed to go out.
Most important of all, as a grandfather to two wonderful children, you can only play What time is it Mr Wolf? with a pocket watch!