Wrist Watches in History, require accurate timekeeping, and if you’re out and about, chances are you won’t be able to view a clock or have your phone turned on. When you need to keep track of the time of day (or night), a wrist watch is ideal. In other words, it allows you to stay current.
One of the more unusual developments that is unique to our species as a whole is our ability to recognize the passage of time. Sure, your typical creature can detect when it’s day and when it’s night, but being able to consciously tell how quickly we cycle between the light and the dark – as well as how quickly months, seasons, and years pass – is something uniquely human.
Time, for lack of a better phrase, has shaped our planet in far more ways than can be adequately discussed here. And it continues to pervade how we perceive the passage of our individual lives as well as the passage of humanity as a whole.
Wrist Watches in History, are not, however, without flaws. As a result, we needed something to help us tell time. We, being the daring animals that we are, devised methods of measuring the passage of hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds, and so on that were more trustworthy than our own estimations. We then improved on those inventions since we were dissatisfied with the results.
And so on, till we are here today, still trying to make things better, easier, more accessible, and more accurate. We now wear considerably more complicated smaller copies of those timepieces on our wrists. But there has been a lot of history and progress between then and now. And, while we can’t possibly cover everything, we’ve attempted to put together a realistic account of the events that led up to the birth of wristwatches, as well as the story of how they became what they are today.
The sundial was invented long before written history began. That indicates we’ve been measuring time longer than we’ve been keeping track of it.
Wrist Watches in History,so it’s plausible that time telling existed before language. Regardless of assumption, the sundial was prevalent by roughly 3,500 BCE in both China and Egypt, two of the oldest attested civilizations. Anaximander, a Greek inventor, built the first Greek metal sundial in 600 BCE.
What is a Sundial
A sundial is defined as “a device that is used to show the time of day by the location of the sun and that consists of a plate with markings like a clock and an object with a straight edge that casts a shadow onto the plate” by Merriam-Webster. A sundial is essentially a clock that uses the movement of a shadow to show the time.
The sundial, on the other hand, has several significant disadvantages. Varied longitudinal locations, for example, provide variable shadow lengths and, as a result, different rates for the dial’s shadow hand to move.
A sundial and its markings must therefore stay motionless at all times in order to constantly display the proper time. Even more obviously, sundials, by definition, do not function at night.
Dime of Time
To bridge the time gap between when the sun sets and when it rises again, humans experimented with other means of tracking the passage of moments. Candles that burned at a consistent rate were invented around 1500 BCE. Around the same period, the hourglass became a popular time measuring device.
Water clocks, which functioned similarly to the hourglass, became popular around 1000 BCE. Mechanical clocks did not begin to replace their water equivalents until 1100 CE.
Mechanical clocks began to appear all across the known globe, constructed of a series of pulleys, counterweights, and bells (the word clock really derived from the French for bell), but they were no more accurate than the water clocks that they had replaced. On any given day, they could lose a half-hour or more. They remained thus until Galileo discovered the pendulum in 1594.
To be clear, Galileo did not use his discoveries to construct a better clock. A Dutchman named Christian Huygens realized the significance of Galileo’s findings in 1657, 63 years later. His mechanical clock was the world’s first relatively accurate clock, losing only up to 15 seconds every day. While the pendulum clock became increasingly popular, it was still far too large to be considered even relatively portable.
The World’s First Pocket-Sized Portable Clock
In 1505, Peter Henlein, a German locksmith, built the world’s first portable pocket-sized clock. It got its name from sailors who used it to replace the hourglasses they used to time their four-hour shifts, or watches.
Since then, the moniker has stayed. This egg-shaped form eventually evolved into the far more popular flat pocket watch, which had become stylish enough to be commonplace by 1675. They would continue to be the dominant form of carry-able watch for the next 240 years.
These pocket timepieces would follow the same trajectory during that time as their huge mechanical forebears. Pocket watches were occasionally more accurate than water clocks due to better technology and smaller size, sometimes losing hours every day. Watchmakers, tinkerers, and inventors continued to produce innovations that increased accuracy to the point where they were as dependable as full-sized pendulum clocks.
The Second Nature
Some claim that Abraham Louis-Breguet invented the wristwatch in 1810. Famous watchmakers Patek Philippe claim to have invented the world’s first wristwatch in 1868. However, its global popularity may be traced back to the early twentieth century.
The wristwatch wasn’t taken seriously at first in America since it was seen as a fad for women and a passing trend. Because of their size and resemblance to a skirt, they were supposed to be incredibly inaccurate. However, this altered dramatically upon the onset of WWI in 1914.
While fighting through Europe, American soldiers and aviators discovered an unusual link with their European counterparts: they had begun fastening their old pocket timepieces to their wrists for better and faster access. Keeping a tight watch on the time was – and still is – critical for an aviator or soldier, since it guarantees that their job is carried out as planned. And, as the first major battle to employ radio transmissions into combat, precise timing was critical.
Wrist Watches in History,the New York Times published an article in 1916, approximately halfway through the war, conceding that the wristwatch was more than a passing fad and was, in fact, valuable and important. The pocket watch gradually fell out of favor, and the wristwatch became the traditional method of timekeeping for both men and women.
Omega introduced their first wristwatch, the world’s first equipped with minute-repeating – a wearable clock with a chime – in 1892.
Wilsdorf & Davis, which would later become Rolex, was founded in London, England in 1905. Their early wristwatches were sold to jewelers who rebranded them with their own names.
Hans Wilsdorf established the Rolex brand in 1908.
Seiko developed the first Japanese wristwatch in 1913.
Patek Philippe released their first five-minute repeating complex women’s wristwatch in 1916.
1917: The British War Department begins giving wristwatches to soldiers as regular equipment
John Harwood, a British watchmaker, patented the self-winding wristwatch in 1923.
Patek Philippe built the first minute-repeating men’s watch in 1924 for automobile engineer Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control.
Patek Philippe created the world’s first known perpetual-calendar wristwatch in 1925.
Rolex proves the waterproofness of their Oyster watches by transporting one across the English Channel on the wrist of swimmer Mercedes Gleitze. The watch still works well after 10 hours in the water.
Wristwatches outnumbered pocket watches by a 50:1 margin in 1930.
Rolex unveiled the world’s first self-winding watch with a perpetual rotor in 1931. This technology is still used in the watch industry today.
Omega introduced the world’s first commercially available diver’s watch in 1932.
1940: Omega commercializes advances in water resistance, shock resistance, and anti-magnetism.
Patek Philippe begins investigating electronic applications in watchmaking in 1948.
1953: Rolex releases their now-famous Submariner watch.
1957: Omega launches their Seamaster and Speedmaster wristwatch lines. Casio Computer Co. was founded, albeit its first watch would not be available until 1978.
1959: Seiko and its daughter business Epson begin constructing the first electric quartz watch movement.
The Omega Speedmaster became the official watch of NASA in 1965.
Seiko launched commercial production of its quartz movement electronic watch in 1969. Neil Armstrong is the first person to set foot on the moon, and he does it while wearing an Omega Speedmaster.
Wrist Watches in History, large number of designers and watch makers have emerged in recent years, many of whom produce extremely high-quality timepieces in a wide range of price ranges and designs, thanks to the globalization of the market and the greater accessibility of high-quality technology.
Any style is accessible if you’re ready to look for it, from tactical military watches to the finest luxury yachting watches. The wristwatch’s legacy lives on, and it has become a significant element of everyday life as a piece that demonstrates both personal taste and dependable functionality. Remember, the clock is ticking if you haven’t already added one to your EDC gear.