Watch fobs make great collectibles because they’re mostly obsolete, and they are small. The Indian Motorcycle Company made watch fobs, as did many other brands that wanted a tiny sliver of advertising displayed over a watch pocket…
A watch fob is an accessory to a pocket watch. It is like a small “leash” that aids the pocket watch owner to locate and remove the watch from a pocket – particularly a watch pocket, which is rarely put on clothes anymore. Sometimes watch fobs were coded or numbered to help locate the owner if someone found a lost watch fob. Usually, watch fobs were made of a strap of leather or cloth that had attached to it a medallion or small ornament imprinted on it. It was worn so that the watch itself remained in a vest or trouser’s watch pocket (a tiny pocket) with the medallion or ornament end hanging out over the edge of the pocket where it can be seen.
Since hardly anyone carries a pocket watch today, except perhaps as a statement of fashion or individuality, watch pockets have almost gone away completely. While many trousers and jeans feature a tiny pocket called a watch pocket, usually connected to the right, front pocket, they are normally not big enough to hold a pocket watch. And since vests are rare too, using a pocket watch with a vest is not usually a viable option. What many people do today is to attach a watch fob to a longer chain so that the pocket watch can be carried in a regular front pocket and still have the fob end hang over the edge of the pocket where it can be easily seen.
In the earliest part of the 20th century, before wristwatches caught on, companies like Indian Motorcycle, John Deere, and Harley Davidson offered watch fobs. Often, a watch fob was presented to an employee on their birthday, retirement, or another significant event. Fobs made of silver, gold, brass, or other metals are highly collectible.
An Indian motorcycle watch fob from the 1930s somewhat resembles an Indian head nickel, except the profile is smaller in relation to the size of the entire fob, and is facing left instead of right. “Indian Motorcycle” is inscribed along the top arc of the fob, over the Indian head.
If you are ever given, or find an Indian Motorcycle watch fob from the first incarnation of the Indian Motorcycle Company (1901-1953), you may have something very valuable. They sometimes sell for over $200.