A watch pocket is a pocket sewn into a garment, typically a vest, that is intended for use as a carrier for a watch. Pocket watches were made to fit into a person’s pocket and are attached to a length of chain that can then be fastened to a waistcoat or belt loop. Such watches were especially popular among men wearing three-piece suits that consisted of pants, a coat, and a vest. The vest of the suit would typically have a small pocket on one or both sides at about the midsection that was intended to be a watch pocket.
Though originally intended for a timepiece, such watch pockets also became popular for holding other accessories. These could include cigar cutters, eye pieces, or vesta cases for carrying small matches and keeping them dry. Such items were also sometimes attached to chains similar to pocket watches as both fashion pieces and to keep them from being dropped accidentally. These chains were often elaborately decorated and could be seen running from a man’s side or waist to the watch pocket on his vest.
Pocket watches declined in popularity following World War II, and wrist watches became more popular and standard as worn timepieces. However, as the three-piece suit’s popularity continued past that, the watch pocket could still be seen in men’s apparel. Watch pockets are especially evident in many older movies from the early to mid 20th century. The images in these movies lead to the view of a wealthy businessman or bank owner becoming almost synonymous with the image of a man wearing a suit with one hand placed firmly in his watch pocket.
The three-piece suit declined in popularity, however, and the vest part of the suit was left behind in the 20th century as businessmen, and businesswomen who began wearing suits, moved toward simpler two-piece suits. During this time, the watch pocket all but disappeared. During the early 21st century, however, the three-piece suit saw a mild resurgence once more, and as the vest came back, the watch pocket returned with it. Though pocket watches have remained less popular than wristwatches, there are still some men and women who wear pocket watches at formal occasions. Regardless of what timepiece is worn, the watch pocket allows a person wearing such a suit to have more options for how he or she stands and how the suit appears to fit on him or her.