What Is a Watch Fob?

One of the most fashionable and useful accessories in America through the turn of the twentieth century was the watch fob. Watch fobs are still in use, although not in a fashion sense. Watch fobs range from simple stop watches to elaborately decorated family heirlooms.

What Is a Watch Fob?

A watch fob is a chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch worn hanging from either a vest or waist pocket.


The watch fob, or pocket watch and its attached chain, was developed in Europe in the sixteenth century and was most popular in America from the mid-eighteenth century until World War I, when the wrist watch was invented. The invention of the wrist watch negated the need for watches to be carried in the pocket, which caused watch fobs to slowly fall out of favor.

Traditional Fob Materials

The fob (chain) itself can be made of any type of metal such as silver or gold, as well as ribbon, thread, leather, plastic, boar's hair or even braided human hair, which was popular in the Victorian Era.

Fun Fact

Presently, the term "fob" is used interchangeably as the actual chain or cord that attaches to the pocket watch, or the pocket watch itself. Further, the term "fob" can represent an object other than a pocket watch, such as a medallion, charm, or virtually anything that can fit into a vest or waist pocket.

The Watch Fob Today

Today, watch fobs are still worn for both function and fashion, and they are avidly collected by antique dealers and hobbyists. Watch fobs are most commonly used by nurses or other medical professionals for a variety of tasks, including taking pulse and respiration rates.