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A Brief History of The Watch

Early mechanical clocks were far too large and bulky to carry. Portable time-keeping was simply not possible for centuries.

This didn't really change until the invention of the spring mechanism which allowed for portability and saw the introducion of small, relatively lightweight clocks designed for travel.

Watches

The Pocket Watch

The first real watch was created in 1524 by Peter Henlein. These early devices were pocket watches, usually attached to a chain. Classic designs include the full hunter and the half hunter. High quality pocket watches became something of a status symbol and were often made with gold or silver.

The reliability of the pocket watch was dramatically improved in the 17th century when Christiaan Huygens proposed using a spring based regulator mechanism.

The Wrist Watch

The wrist watch as we know it today was only created towards the end of the 19th century, invented by one Patek Philippe. Initially the wristwatch was seen as a fashion accessory for women. This changed in the early 20th century with the introduction of the first watches created by Louis Cartier.

Early watches required frequent winding, later ones saw the inclusion of self-winding mechanisms where movement of the wrist is used to automatically wind the watch.

The first battery powered watch was invented in 1957 by the Hamilton Watch Company. The first watch to use a piezoelectric quartz crystal as a timing mechanism was introduced by Seiko in 1969.

The wristwatch reached the moon in 1969 when the Apollo XIII astronauts wore the Omega Speedmaster - the Moon Watch.

The 1970s saw the invention of the digital watch, and these became extremely popular. These days tastes seem to be returning to the more traditional analogue style.

One of the latest innovations in watchmaking is the watch that can receive the time signal broadcast via radio. These watches set themselves automatically and can even adjust for daylight saving time.