Have you ever pondered on why there are little pockets on your jeans/trousers? Most time there are significant things that are ignored. Some may see it to be too small therefore, useless. But in the olden times, it had an important purpose of holding a pocket watch.
The fact of pockets been seen everywhere can be traced back to the design for “waist overalls,” this was the original name for the blue jeans then made by Levi Strauss & Co. The pockets appear on the design in the patent Strauss and J.W. Davis received for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket Openings,” way back on May 20, 1873, and were first put into mass use in 1890 with the “Lot 501” jeans, which in today’s version is the Levis 501 jeans today.
“The watch pocket was a feature of our first waist overalls,” Tracey Panek, the in-house historian at Levi Strauss & Co., told INSIDER in an email. “The oldest pair of waist overalls in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives [from 1879] includes the watch pocket.”
According to Panek; ”This small pocket can’t be found in suit pants, it was meant to hold pocket watches, that is why it’s been found in jeans pocket. Suit jackets already have pocket watches, which makes one on the pants superfluous- Levis Strauss himself- for example, kept a pocket watch in the vest of his business suit.
Pants with the tiny pocket are called “five-pocket pants,” but the tiny pocket isn’t actually the fifth one. The fifth pocket is actually on the back-left, added to Levi’s 501 jeans in 1901.
“Our 19th century overalls had a single back pocket on right side of the pant beneath the leather patch,” Panek said. “It was riveted in the top two corners and included our recognizable arch design, called the Arcuate, stitched with a single needle sewing machine.”
Nowadays, no one carries around a pocket watch. People prefer to check the time on their phones or wristwatches. Panek told INSIDER that the small pockets are kept on Levi’s jeans today to maintain the integrity of the original design.
“The watch pocket was an original element of our blue jeans, like the rivets on our pockets, button fly, arched back pocket stitching and leather patch,” Panek said. “To preserve the integrity of the early design, Levi Strauss & Co. maintains the watch pocket.”
Panek continued; ”Other pants have the pocket as homage to the pocket watch. The style gives pants a more casual look because they don’t look like they’re meant to be matched with a jacket”.
Panek told INSIDER; ”Different brands have different ways and spots they put the small pocket”. ”Some put it in the front, next to a bigger pocket, while others have a smaller pocket within the regular-sized side pocket”.c
”But in the case of Levi’s jeans, they’ve have maintained the same pertain since the 19th century. Except one, was during World War II”.
“One interesting fact about the watch pocket is that during WWII the two corner rivets were removed as a way to conserve metal for the war effort,” Panek said. “The rivets returned to the watch pocket after the war.”
Today, there isn’t really much you can do with the tiny pocket. Some people suggest using them to keep coins or keys, but the disadvantage is that items tend to dig into your hip. Others as well recommend them for matches, condoms, and tickets. The pockets though are useful for carrying small pieces of hand jewelry for a few moments. For instance; you can put your passport in there if you’re not with a purse, wallet or handbag. In this present time, people ignore them and see the pockets as a piece of history that’s still with us. Even if they don’t use pocket watches anymore, the pockets are still around.