The History of Watchmaking


Lai Yu, Contributor

Having the ability to know time is a necessity. It gives people the ability to organize our lives like no other. It makes sure they are able to get as much of their work done before a day can be completed. A watch is a power over your time. For this reason, it should be no surprise to want this power with you everywhere you go. It is this concept that started the development and assembly of the first watches.

The first watches were made in the 16th century and were recorded to have their start in Germany, inside the city of Nuremberg. These first watches were designed by the clockmaker, Peter Henlein, and the watches would be called the “clock-watch.” However, it is also named in a more similar term, that being called a, “ball watch.” These watches were expensive and were prone to many failures which made the watches practically useless. It was unable to correctly tell time, and at times, its hands were hours away from the actual time. These watches were usually just kept as an accessory to show off wealth during the time. They were not used for their intended purpose. However, the next breakthrough would change all of that with the invention of a new style of watch.

File:German - Spherical Table Watch (Melanchthon's Watch) - Walters 5817 - View C.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

After the clock-watch, the pocket watch was popularized and this time it became more accurate with the actual time. These were worn as its name implies, the pocket. The pocket watches came into being during the 17th century, as styles changed and people recognized the importance of a handheld time keeping device. However, despite people knowing its importance, it was still only made for the wealthy, as it was still expensive. This caused watches to be only affordable to the upper class, until much later. The Industry Revolution, and mass production of items, brought prices down and made them obtainable to the masses. Even today, unique pocket watches are still one of the most sought after devices in the world.

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The pocket watch proved to be a missive step for the portable clock, as its use become known world wide. However, things were only going to get better for these devices, thanks to a person named, Abraham-Louis Breguet. He would come to design the first conceptual wrist watch for the world. This would lead many others to create their own variants of his design and start businesses to produce these watches. Some of these people like, Hans Wilsdorf, would come to make big name in luxury brands, like Rolex in the modern area. These watches became more practical, easier to use, and of course more accurate. With it,  many other types of watches would be made. These watches could not only tell time, but also the date. In addition, solar and lunar cycles as well  were added, which made the customizability almost limitless for designs. The watch would also come to obtain a new innovation, know as the automatic movement. Unlike the manual movement watches which required manual cranking to wind the hand so it can move, automatic movement can wind itself. These watches became more useful for people. With this invention, it revolutionized the time keeping scene, by making the watch a staple in a person’s life.

RGM Watch Co.

With the wristwatch, a brand named Seiko would come to have their own concept of what the future of watch making should be. They realized that a curtain material, known as quartz, could help the watch by improving its accuracy, by making the speed at which the hands move more accurate. They would do this by making the quartz vibrate in the watch, to move the hands at a much improved speed. This function was far different from a normal traditional watch that utilized a multitude of gears and cogs to mechanically move the hands to their correct position to tell time. A quartz watch utilized an electrical current passing through a crystal to move the watch. Soon after, a watch fully controlled by electrical currents would be made. Vintage 8223-8029 Seiko Watch | Luxury Seiko Quartz Watch Vintage – Vintage RadarThe smart watch is the latest iteration of the wrist watch. These are not powered by the traditional mechanical movement or a quartz one, but instead a full battery. These watches utilized these batters to run electrical currents through the watch’s components and to a screen that would show the time instead of normal watch face. These watches would be proved to be more advanced than normal watches, as they can now utilize many features- such as measuring blood pressure, heart rates, and sugar level. These watches while popular, are still in their infancy stage, and they are expected to get even more advanced with time. There is speculation that it could replace smartphones. Introducing Apple Watch Ultra - Apple

The watch is an incredible invention. It is one of the best products humanity has ever created.

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