|Bookmark this page! |
In this day and age, watches are ubiquitous. No matter what a person’s income bracket, they will find some kind of a watch to wear. But have you ever wondered when this practice started? Here is some of the history of watches along with some other interesting facts about them.
The first watches appeared around 1600. They were basically miniaturized spring-powered clocks. These watches, however, weren’t yet quite small enough to fit on a wrist, so they were carried in pockets. To prevent loss, and likely to look cool as well, these watches were secured to suits with chains. Pocket watches, as they were and are known, are now quite rare, but it is possible to buy new ones if you look around enough. Unfortunately, it can be even more difficult to find a pocket watch of good quality, but some surely exist.
Wristwatches, the kind most people mean when they refer to a “watch” nowadays, came about in the early 20th century. They were made possible by then-new methods of miniaturization. Originally, wristwatches had to be made by hand, like pocket watches. But in 1854, the now-defunct Waltham Watch Company pioneered a way to mass-produce them. They continued to produce watches until 1957, when they closed.
Watches, whether pocket or wrist, were not too accurate originally. However, railroad companies were always looking for better ones, due to safety issues with train scheduling. This drove the watch industry to greatly improve the accuracy of their timepieces.
World War One drove the acceptance of wristwatches by men. Before that, only women wore them. But soldiers needed to be able to see the time without using their hands, and brought the practice home with them when the war ended. The original “men’s wristwatches” used in the war were actually just modified pocket watches.
In 1969, the first quartz watch was developed. It allowed far better accuracy than most mechanical watches could produce, but it would be years before this technology was developed enough to show its true potential. Only in the 1980s did quartz technology finally get good enough to take over most of the watch market.
Nowadays, most people use quartz watches for actual timekeeping purposes. Collectors and other watch enthusiasts, however, still like expensive mechanical watches for their meticulous craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal. This allows some old mechanical-watch companies to stay in business, even as millions of quartz watches come off of assembly lines in countries all over the world.