Famous Pocket Watches in Literature and Film

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There's a timeless allure surrounding pocket watches. More than just timekeeping devices, they symbolize eras gone by, moments captured in time, and the relentless ticking of existence. As reflections of society and culture, literature and film often feature these horological gems, giving them roles that are sometimes as pivotal as the protagonists. This blog looks at some iconic pocket watches featured in classic novels, films, and TV shows.

The White Rabbit's Pocket Watch - "Alice in Wonderland"

Lewis Carroll's fantastical tale, "Alice in Wonderland," introduces us to the perpetually late White Rabbit. His pocket watch, a symbol of the relentless march of time, is central to the story's whimsy. As Alice chases the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, we're drawn into a world where time behaves peculiarly—much like the rabbit's watch, which always seems to be running late. It's a beautiful reminder of time's sometimes chaotic and unpredictable nature.

The Gold Pocket Watch - "Pulp Fiction"

Quentin Tarantino's cult classic "Pulp Fiction" features a gold watch with a backstory as intricate as the film's non-linear plot. Passed down through generations, this gold watch survives wars and captures the essence of legacy and the lengths one might go to preserve family honour. The watch's tale, narrated by Christopher Walken's character, Captain Koons, is a poignant moment in the film, emphasizing the weight of time, memory, and sacrifice.

The Broken Pocket Watch - "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Ernest Hemingway's novel, set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, features Robert Jordan, an American in the International Brigades. His pocket watch, which is broken yet carried throughout the story, symbolizes the fractured nature of war and the timeless limbo it creates. While not a Canadian work, Hemingway's ties to Toronto – where he worked as a young journalist – add a layer of connection for Canadian readers.

Hermione's Time-Turner - "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

Though not a traditional pocket watch, the Time-Turner used by Hermione in J.K. Rowling's third Harry Potter instalment deserves mention. This magical timekeeping device, worn around the neck, allows Hermione to attend multiple classes simultaneously. More than just a plot device, the Time-Turner speaks to themes of destiny, free will, and the intricate web of time.

Harold Lloyd's Pocket Watch - "Safety Last!"

In the world of silent film, few images are as iconic as Harold Lloyd hanging from a large clock in "Safety Last!". While the clock isn't a pocket watch, the theme of time is ever-present. Lloyd's character is in a race against it, leading to comedic and nail-biting scenarios. For Canadians, it evokes memories of a time when silent films were a favourite pastime, even in the country's northern reaches.

The Pocket Watch in "The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything"

Originally a novel by John D. MacDonald and later adapted into a film and TV movie, this story revolves around a mysterious pocket timekeeper that can freeze time. This narrative delves deep into the ramifications of controlling time and the moral dilemmas that accompany such power.

Final Thoughts

With their intricate designs and ticking mechanisms, pocket watches are more than just tools for telling time. They're powerful symbols, representing the moments that shape our lives, the history we carry with us, and the future we chase. Literature and film, in their unique ways, capture this essence, weaving narratives that leave an indelible mark on our psyche.  The pocket watch, in its timeless glory, remains a cherished emblem in the annals of storytelling.

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