A Brief History of Watches. Watches have a lengthy history. What is the history of watches, though? “When was the watch invented?” you might wonder. Or perhaps you’ve always been curious about how they’re made? Watches are no longer the same as they once were. Consider the case of a smartphone.
Clocks can be considered one of the oldest devices, having been built by our forefathers in Babylon, the origin of human civilization, around 600 years ago. Clocks forged the look of contemporary civilization we live in today by providing us with the ability to measure time, create timetables, and govern the flow of our daily routine.
Ancient Egyptian architects began creating tall obelisks near their temples and royal houses around 3500 BC, which is when the first constructed clocks were recorded. The function of these huge stone constructions was to cast a sun shadow on the intricately painted spirals that were put on the ground (sometimes incorporated into walkways), allowing visitors to easily discern the position of the shadow and the current time of day.
Despite the fact that the first sundial models were made in Babylon, Egyptian scientists enhanced their use and precision during a three-thousand-year period, during which they discovered the winter and summer solstices, as well as the division of daytime into “hours” and much more.
In Ancient Greece, the greatest period of sundial invention occurred.
Su Sung, a prominent Chinese inventor, created the most intricate water clock in the 11th century BC.
German locksmith Peter Henlein is credited with inventing the first modern mechanical clock (1510).
Quartz crystals are utilized in the majority of global clocks because they can create 1-second pulses.
Pendulum clock designs can be seen in Leonardo Da Vinci’s works.
Plato, the legendary Greek philosopher, and inventor invented the first water-based alarm clock.
We know it can make and receive calls, send and receive texts, track fitness statistics, and perform a variety of other tasks. It’s fascinating to look back in time to see where watches came from in the first place, especially at this point in time when technology is so sophisticated. From the time watches were invented till now, we take a look at the history of watches.
The Clock’s Invention
We must first review the history of timekeeping technologies before discussing watches and their invention. Though basic time-telling devices such as sundials were utilized by early civilizations, the English invented the first clock in 1275. They were so primitive at first that all they could do was ring a bell every hour. Engineers and blacksmiths worked together for hundreds of years and were eventually able to create clocks that resembled the mechanical clocks we have today. They also began to experiment with metals other than steel, which had hitherto been the only option. Silver, bronze, and brass were among the metals used.
History of the Pocket Watch
When did the pocket watch first appear? Because these were such primitive times, John Calvin, a great religious figure, actually forbade the wearing of jewelry in Switzerland. This created a huge market for anyone in Switzerland who could make pocket watches. The first of them, like the first clocks, was built in the late 1500s and only featured an hour hand. The industry was further sponsored and progressed as the utility and popularity of pocket timepieces became clear. As a result, the parts became more reliable, and minute and second hands were added, as well as an expanding customer base.
The industrial revolution had taken root in the nineteenth century, and every industry was seeing significant advancements. Superior products reduced prices, and mass production was among the most significant developments. Pocket timepieces were one of the industries swept up in this wave of production, and they eventually made it to the mass market. Previously, only the wealthy could buy such pricey and opulent timepieces. Commoners may now afford them as well.
Despite the fact that wristwatches had been around for millennia, they were not widely used. They were, in reality, primarily worn by rich women. The reason behind this was that all timepieces were once prohibitively expensive for the average person. Then, even as the prices dropped, just a few individuals wore them because they were considered a woman’s look, and few women wore watches. The introduction of wristwatches by men in the military shifted this trend. This began in 1880 when Constant Girard chose to provide wristwatches to his German navy officers. In the years that followed, doing so grew increasingly popular.
Application on the Battlefield
We’re discussing the history of timepieces, yet watches have a history that dates back to the dawn of time. Though WWI had many far-reaching consequences, one of the lesser-known was the usage of military wristwatches. Soldiers in the trenches didn’t want to take their watches out of their pockets every time they needed to check the time, so they didn’t. They chose the more practical wristwatch, which could be examined instantly and did not require the soldier to take one hand away from their weapon. In addition to convenience, having time on hand was an important aspect of military operations. The rationale for this is that even if soldiers couldn’t communicate, they could coordinate attacks. Instead, they’d agree to assault at a specific moment and confirm cooperation with their watches.
Wristwatches are taking over the world.
Men’s wristwatches were acceptable and fashionable after the war. To promote watches to other men, watch companies began to use representations of soldiers wearing wristwatches. Men who had worn them throughout the war had grown accustomed to wearing them and wanted to keep doing so. As a result, the popularity of wristwatches skyrocketed, allowing them to practically monopolize the pocket watch market.
Money poured in for research and development once the watch industry grew to be a multibillion-dollar sector. Chronographs, quartz movements, helpful bezels, and other features were added as a result. As a result, the range of duties that watches can do has broadened, as has the market for them.
Watches are becoming more intelligent. Computers have shrunk dramatically in size during the previous two decades. They started with computers the size of entire rooms and progressed to personal computers. Following that, we created computers and smartphones. We can now integrate complex computers into tiny compartments that fit on our wrists in the current age. Smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, are the outcome. Although there is still a considerable market for vintage-style watches, clever technologies are rapidly transforming the watch industry.
The first automatic, self-winding watch was created in the 1920s. Rolex created headlines in 1926 when they unveiled their waterproof Oyster case, which helped to boost their advertising effort thanks to the popularity of wristwatches. To demonstrate the Oyster case’s waterproofness, creator Hans Wilsdorf gave swimmer Mercedes Gleitze a Rolex while she attempted to cross the English Channel. The effort to break the record was thwarted due to unfavorable weather conditions. The watch was unharmed during its stay in the freezing water. The wristwatch’s success was unstoppable. Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual, the first self-winding mechanism, in 1931, to replace the hand-wound movement.
When you go watch shopping online, you’ll notice that the majority of the timepieces you see are substantially different from those used in the past. Because everything you see today is the result of hundreds of years of progress. There is now a piece for everyone, no matter who they are or what they want. It’s simply a matter of going out and looking for it.
The company “Seth Thomas Clocks,” which first opened its doors in 1813, is the longest continuously operating clockmaker in the United States. In one of his plays, Ancient Roman playwright Platus railed about sundials that “cut his existence into bits.”
The first clocks were made to regulate religious prayers, but with the development of train networks in the 18th and 19th centuries, timekeeping and clock production became more standardized.
Governments, corporations, and religions have always needed and used timekeeping devices, but the invention of compact, portable pocket watches, and wristwatches altered all we knew and paved the path for the contemporary civilization we live in today.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the history of clocks, this is the place to go. Learn everything you need to know about their history, timelines, and cultural impact in only a few minutes. You can now read everything there is to know about those facts right here. This is the spot to go if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about legendary clock inventors. Clock innovators have changed the way we live our everyday lives and function in complex modern societies from ancient times to the current age of industry and research.
Despite the fact that sundials drew a lot of attention from Greek and Roman scholars, they were only utilized sporadically in continental Europe after the Roman Empire fell. Government, trade, and churches were the primary users. With the coming of the Renaissance and the expansion of knowledge, production, and trade with distant Middle Eastern and Asian lands, this position changed. After new knowledge of mechanical clocks arrived in Europe from China and Islamic lands, the art of mechanical clock building began to expand slowly.
Various clock designs began to develop in England, France, Italy, and Germany by the late 14th century, culminating in Peter Henlein’s creation of the first so-called “pocket watch.” His innovation ignited the imaginations of other innovators, who eventually improved the portable clock into a device that was inexpensive, long-lasting, and accurate.
Aside from mechanical advancements (such as mainsprings, balance springs, and automatic winding systems) and increased production capacities, the use of timepieces altered dramatically with the tides of fashion. Male pocket watches became popular in the late 1600s and were used for about 250 years before being completely superseded by wristwatches, which soon conquered the world after World War I ended.
The desire to measure time has existed for millennia: the sundial was invented by the ancient Egyptians 5,000 years ago. Reading the time required sunshine, therefore it could only be done during the day. The water clock was the first timepiece that did not require sunlight to function. In the 14th century, it was followed by the hourglass and the wheel clock. The latter, while containing the first essential elements now present in mechanical watches, was extremely inaccurate. It had a “Unrast” a less accurate predecessor to the balancing wheel.
Because watches were so huge back then, they were frequently worn on a chain in the back pocket. However, chain watches were still a long way from becoming widely available. Watches and other high-end things were ornamented. Large clocks in church towers and marketplaces have been visible to the general public since the 13th century, delivering aural information on the full hour or the start of a fair. Clocks were first constructed by locksmiths, but due to increased demand, the watchmaking profession began to emerge.
Balance and, above all, the spiral spring were invented in the 15th century, allowing for the creation of precision timepieces. The coil spring replaced the long pendulum that had previously been utilized, laying the groundwork for watch miniaturization. Christiaan Huygens designed a watch with a spiral spring and balance in 1673 that was already tiny and portable.
In the late 1980s, the market began to revive. Because of their easier-to-understand functionality and the expertise required for their creation, mechanical watches have regained popularity, particularly in the higher price range. The term “Swiss made” resurfaced as a quality indicator and dominated the watch market. Although the crisis forced several businesses into bankruptcy, it also had some positive consequences: new production processes were invented, and corporations were reformed to focus on their most profitable series. The watch business shifted its focus, with the Swiss watch industry no longer focusing solely on the high-end market, but also on lower-cost quartz-based watches that could compete with Asian timepieces.
Mechanical timepieces, on the other hand, are more popular than ever. Made in Switzerland is synonymous with precision, craftsmanship, and high-quality manufacturing. A high-quality wristwatch does not have to cost a small fortune. Luxury timepieces, on the other hand, remain a potential investment. In comparison to their short-lived, low-cost electronic cousins, they also have different emotional worth. Some luxury watches last several generations thanks to the use of high-quality materials and craftsmanship, and with proper care, they constantly improve in value.
In today’s market, there is a huge selection of wristwatches in every price range. You may rely on certified, used luxury timepieces purchased from Watchmaster if you wish to treat yourself to outstanding quality at a lesser price. There is something for everyone’s taste, from low-cost digital watches to the still-popular and technically complex mechanical watch and the cutting-edge smartwatch.