The invention of timepieces dates back before the common era. From water clocks being the oldest clocks to sundials that were invented by the Egyptians thousands of years ago, timepieces have had a long history, which continues to get better with design and technology updates.
For centuries, watches are not just seen as an essential need but have been worn as fashion accessories that can enhance one’s style quotient and become a status symbol. To know all about the latest in watches, check this great blog.
In this article, we discuss the history of watches, when were they invented, the invention of wristwatches, and the future of wristwatches.
When Were Watches Invented?
The first mechanical watch was invented in the 13th century. These initial watches were visibly larger and appeared in churches and markets. These clocks were built by locksmiths and would strike hourly with a loud sound to tell the time.
With the invention of balance and spiral spring, precision in watchmaking came about in the 15th century. It was Christiaan Huygens who created the first watch with balance and spiral springs. The spiral spring replaced the long pendulums and made it possible to create miniature watches.
The first pocket watch, which only displayed the hour, were created way before wristwatches. The minute and second hands were added at the end of the 16th century.
It was only in the 17th century that mechanical watches gained popularity. Pocket watches became popular as people started to prefer carrying timepieces in their pockets rather than depend on huge community clocks for knowing the time. In the late 17th century, Abraham Louis Perrelet invented a clock mechanism that was more precise and paved the way for thinner, smaller watches. This was the invention of wristwatches.
Invention Of The Wrist Watch
The first wristwatch was created in 1812 by Abraham Louis Breguet. It was made for Napoleon’s sister, Queen Caroline Murat, who was a fashionista. Watches at that time were worn around the neck by women as pieces of jewelry. In the 19th century, this trend of wearing a watch as a jewelry piece had gained momentum and was seen as a status symbol.
The first men’s wristwatch was designed by Cartier. Louis Cartier designed the Cartier Santos, a pilot watch for his friend and flying legend, Alberto Santos Dumont. The Cartier Santos series is still a central collection for the renowned brand, Cartier.
The first world war further changed the way watches were worn. During the war, it became essential to have a timepiece that’s more functional and practical than a pocket watch. This is how wristwatches became the inevitable choice. By the time the soldiers returned from the war, they had already grown accustomed to wearing wristwatches. The post-war period witnessed a fast evolution in watchmaking as watchmakers started designing watches for harsh weather conditions, deep-sea diving, and military conditions.
The first automatic self-winding watch was developed in the 1920s, and Rolex was one of the first brands to launch the self-winding movement watch with their Oyster Perpetual collection. In the 1970s, the quartz revolution led to the creation of battery-powered wristwatches.
Quartz watches were inexpensive and efficient, causing a crisis for mechanical watchmakers. This caused a significant decline in the Swiss watch market as it was primarily focused on traditional watchmaking. However, the mechanical watch market recovered in the 1980s due to the high-quality craftsmanship and easy functionality.
The Future Of Wrist Watches
With the development of technology, wrist watches have become more than just timepieces. A smartwatch that knows your location has voice-calling technology, and can even tell your heart rate, has gradually changed the perception of watches itself. Smartwatches today also have an in-built app that can track your health throughout the day, even when you’re resting.
However, with time being a feature for every gadget, from smartphones to cars, wrist watches have become less popular. Only time will tell regarding the future for wristwatches.
From the sundial to smartwatches, timepieces have seen an evolution like no other product. As time gets embedded in almost every gadget, the need for wristwatches seems to dwindle. However, classic wristwatches with high-quality workmanship are still considered as a valuable fashion accessory worth investing in.
Since millennials mostly use smartphones to know the time, the shift of watches from pocket to wrist and back to the pocket seems like a cycle. However, as people use smartwatches for things more than just telling the time, this could lead to the resurgence of technology-driven wristwatches.
As history suggests, watches have been around for a long time and have easily adapted to the need of the moment. Wristwatches could see a major comeback in the future in ways we’re still unaware of.