The watch cap, as with the majority of clothing in men’s closets today, has its roots in both war and work. From anti-monarchy revolutionaries in America and France donning Liberty Caps in the tradition of the ancient Roman pileus, felt caps given to freed slaves by their former masters that later came to represent freedom in a more generalized way. To the fisherman and hunters of Monmouth, Wales who knit short wool caps to cover their ears while in the field or on the open water, records of which date back to 1576. Though the ones we have from Knickerbocker MFG can trace their immediate history to a more modern source, WWII.
Crewmen aboard naval ships were issued a short, wool knit cap to wear to keep warm while on deck. The caps were just long enough to cover their ears but knit dense enough to stand up to anything that got thrown their way.
Knit with cotton instead of wool by Artex Mills in New Jersey, the Knickerbocker caps are one of the easier to wear interpretations of the original caps. The one I bought last year quickly became a nighttime dog walk necessity of mine, and was a great way to keep warm while hiding a bad hair day from the rest of the world.