A Short History of Watches

The first watches can be tracked to around 1524. These early watches were powered by a series of weights. Most of these early timepieces were notoriously inaccurate and only had one hand that had to be wound at least twice a day.

But the invention of the balance spring in 1675 changed timekeeping dramatically. The second-hand was invented and watches became accurate to within a fraction of a minute.

With the introduction of machines in the early 1800s, mass production became possible. Watch companies like Tissot, Elgin, Hamilton, Bulova, and opened their doors and started producing pocket watches en-masse. In 1868, Patek Philippe produced the first wristwatch. In 1871, IWC introduced the first waterproof case and in 1888, Cartier introduced the first ladies’ wristwatch.

From the time of its invention until World War I, the wristwatch was mainly something that women wore. In the midst of war, however, soldiers realized that it was much easier to glance at your wrist to check the time, than it was to fumble around in your jacket to find your pocket watch.

When the war ended, the soldiers got to keep their army-issued wristwatches. Soon after the war ended, it became common to see civilian men wearing wristwatches in public. By the 1930s, the wristwatch was the standard form of watch worn by men.

Meanwhile, the first quartz clock was introduced in 1928, with accuracy to a fraction of a second a day. This technology would eventually come to dominate the wristwatch industry. Other great breakthroughs included the first waterproof wristwatch (1926); the first automatic watch (1932); first chronograph watch (1936); the first wristwatch alarm (1947); the first battery-powered watch (1952), the first electronic watch (1960); the first mass-produced quartz watch (1969); and the first tactile touch watch (2000).

Categories: IWC, Other Swiss Watch Brands, Patek Philippe, Swiss Watch Tips & Trivia.

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