Posted by Barney on December 12, 2001
In Reply to: Gold watch at retirement posted by ESC on December 11, 2001
: : : What is the significance of awarding a watch at a retirment and where/how did it start?
: : I think it's supposed to be an irony that "time" doesn't matter when retired. So a watch is sarcastically given in "roast" jest.
: Here's what I think. Totally a guess. I think it probably started when railroad workers in the U.S. retired. That was one of the few professions where a man could earn a pension during the 1800s. (Compared with, for example, coal miners who sickened and died before retirement age.) Most men had a pocket watch. Pocket watches were an important tool for RR men because the train being on time was a major goal, then and now. Accurate watches were called "railroad watches," a collector tells me.(Wrist watches weren't used until World War I. I seem to remember reading that at a military history museum.) A gold pocket watch made a nice gift because it had a nice big space on which to engrave the person's name. How's that for a theory?
I don't know the origin but I do know that the most logical explanation is seldom the right one.