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Watch chain

Watch chain

  • Place of origin:

    Balkans (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1899 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver wire chain with filigree appliques and metal beads

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Edmond Dresden

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In the 19th century, a pocket watch was a symbol of status for men throughout the world. They were usually worn with decorative chains which were objects of adornment in their own right. The type of chain used varied considerably from place to place.

This chain is a kind which was worn with Ottoman costume in the Balkans, particularly in the west, from Dalmatia south to Greece. The loop at the top end was hooked or fastened to the jacket at the shoulder, and the chain hung diagonally across the chest, with the watch, attached to the lower end, tucked into the wearer’s sash. The loose strap at the bottom would have held watch keys or other pendants.

This example was described as ‘Modern Egyptian (?)’ when it was bequeathed to the Museum in 1904. It is not typical of Egyptian watch chains, but the origin of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the founder of the ruling house, was Albanian, and it is possible that watch chains of this kind were worn by the upper classes in Egypt in the 19th century.

Physical description

Chain made from tubular loop-in-loop wire. One end of the chain consists of a single strand bent back on itself to form a double strip. The other end is made from three strands plaited together. The ends of each of these separate strands are caught in tubes of twisted wire: three tubes soldered together for the three plaited strands, two tubes soldered together for the double strand, and a single tube for one of the plaited strands which is longer than the other two and hangs free at the end of the chain. There are three slides threaded on to the double strands at each end of the chain. At the lower end, where the three plaited strands separate into two and one, the three slides are made from a filigree rosette with two rings on its back. At the upper end, below the loop where the single strand is turned back on itself, there are two similar filigree rosettes with a comma-shaped filigree slide between them. In the centre of the chain, where the double and triple strands meet, the double strands are threaded through three double tubes, like those at the end, with a filigree rosette, like those on the slides, soldered to the front. There are three spherical beads between these tubes, made of metal, with a filigree cap on each end. The central bead is larger than the other two.

Place of Origin

Balkans (made)


1850-1899 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver wire chain with filigree appliques and metal beads


Length: 62 cm overall

Object history note

Accessions register entry: 'Chain of plaited silver wire strung with silver-gilt filigree and silvered metal beads. / Three beads consist of spheres with a pearled band round the middle and a cap in filigree covering each end. Three consist of a double tube with flat filigree rosette on each side. One is a triple tube with one rosette. Two are similar rosettes each with a double loop at the back, while one if a flat filigree "cone" ornament similarly provided. All these are strung on a double (in parts triple and plaited) chain, two being riveted in place. / Modern Egyptian (?) / L. 24 1/2 in.'

Descriptive line

Silver watch chain of braided wire decorated with filigree beads and slides, Balkans, 1850-1899.


Silver; Brass


Braiding; Filigree


Jewellery; Metalwork; Clocks & Watches


Middle East Section

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