”[…] Though unsatisfactory, my research has not been entirely barren,” he observed, staring up at the ceiling with dreamy, lack-lustre eyes. “Subject to your correction, I should judge that the watch belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it from your father.”
“That you gather, no doubt, from the H.W. upon the back ?”
“Quite so. The W. suggests your own name. […] Jewelry usually descends to the eldest son, and he is most likely to have the same name as the father. […] It has, therefore, been in the hands of your eldest brother.”
“[…] He was a man of untidy habits, — very untidy and careless. He was left with good prospects, but he threw away his chances, […] and finally, taking to drink, he died. That is all I can gather.”
” […] When you observe the lower part of that watch-case you notice that it is not only dinted in two places, but it is cut and marked all over from the habit of keeping other hard objects, such as coins or keys, in the same pocket. […] Finally, I ask you to look at the inner plate, which contains the key-hole. Look at the thousands of scratches all round the hole, — marks where the key has slipped. […] But you will never see a drunkard’s watch without them. He winds it at night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady hand. […]”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - « The Sign of the Four » (1890).