A Military Connection
It’s not clear where the first Watch Cap originated- with versions of the age-old beanie dating back to the 1500s, and in various cold-weather locations; from Monmouthshire to Scandinavia. The Watch Cap was born out of necessity- with versions known to have been worn during the conflicts of The Lower Canada Rebellion and the Crimean War- both of which were fought in extremely cold conditions during the 1800s.
However, the most notable link to the modern-day watch cap is the version issued to sailors by the US Navy during WW2. Sailors would often wear the beanie when on “watch duty” or on the lookout for enemy ships or subs. They were traditionally made from wool yarn, to protect the wearer from harsh winds, and featured a patch on the rim that showed the sailor’s name & service number.
While the modern-day watch cap is found in a wider variety of colours and often without the name tag, one thing that has remained a constant is the styling of this timeless piece. Photographs of the USN from the ‘40s-’50s show the sailors wearing their beanies rolled up above the ears as we would today. It’s this combination of effortless styling and wearability, durability and warmth that allowed the watch cap to transition from military uniform to workwear & eventually popular culture- favoured by actors such as Steve McQueen.
Not Just For The High Seas
Today the watch cap is a staple in every wardrobe, but what makes it really stand the test of time is its versatility. Something that is notable with this piece is that it’s not just confined to one style. The watch cap makes an appearance in a variety of fits- from street-style to more classic tailoring & haute couture. There are connotations of exploration, adventures & casual Americana, and it’s particularly popular amongst subculture groups such as skaters, ‘hipsters’ and even bikers- everyone knows about helmet hair!
Our latest Watch Cap is probably our most wearable piece yet. We’ve left off the label, focusing instead on perfecting the fit and fabric. Inspired by the original 1940’s military version, our P&Co watch cap is made from an 80% lambs wool blend for a super soft, durable & itch-free hat. The high wool content also makes this piece extra warm- ideal for the cooler nights.