Historical information

Fob (or pocket) watches were developed in Europe in the 16th century and gained wide usage during the mid 18th century until World War 1 when the wristwatch was invented. These watches were designed to be carried in a small pocket and attached through the means of a 'fob' which could be a chain or made from a variety of materials such as leather. Their popularity peaked in the nineteenth century where they were an important part of middle and lower class society as well. The inclusion of the word RAILWAY on the face of the watch suggests a possible use by an employee of the railways.


This item is of social significance as fob / pocket watches were valued as an essential object in all levels of society. For some occupations, such as the railroads, it was a necessary tool of the job.

Physical description

Steel Railway Lever open face pocket / fob watch dated 1920s-1930s. The white dial has large black arabic numerals and outer minute divisions around the edge. A circular insert and small hand to show the seconds is at the bottom of the watch face. The hour hand is a rounded leaf shape, and the minute hand a thin diamond shape. Both hands and the small rounded end of the second hand reflect a metallic blue sheen in the right lighting. The words RAILWAY LEVER, 15 JL and SWISS MADE are on the dial. The lever set on watches was a requirement for railroad watches. It required a two step process for the hands to be adjusted. 15 JL refers to the movement being a 15 jewel one.

Inscriptions & markings

The front dial of the watch has the words 15 JL, RAILWAY LEVER, and SWISS MADE.