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Evolution of Wristwatches

Andrew Collins

The evolution of men’s watches from pocket to designer fashion accessories has been a fascinating one. The invention of watches has shaped our world in a number of ways—our way of life and work.

A brief history of pocket watch

In 1505, German locksmith Peter Henlein was the first one to invent a portable pocket watch. It was named ‘watch’ by the sailors who replaced the hourglasses they used to mark their 4-hours shifts or watches.

It was originally an egg-shaped design that evolved into a much flat, rounder shape by 1675. For the next 200 years, they remained the dominant shape of portable wristwatches for men.

Throughout 200 years watchmakers, tinkerers and inventors worked to develop more accurate forms of watches to make them as reliable as a pendulum clock.

The first wristwatch

Although credit is given to Patek Phillippe for the creation of the world’s first wristwatch in 1868, many say it was developed by Abraham Louis- Breguet in 1810.

But it rose to worldwide popularity by the beginning of the 20th century.

Earlier, Americans overlooked the wristwatch as a fad for women. It was thought of as a joke that shall pass eventually. People thought that due to their size they would be extremely inaccurate. But that quickly changed with the advent of World War I in 1914.

American soldiers and aviators found an intriguing thing among their European soldiers. They began strapping their old pocket watches to their wrists to keep up with the wristwatches of European soldiers for quicker and easier access of time.

On the battlefield, time was an extremely important factor for the soldiers and aviators. It helped them to carry out their missions on time, as planned. With the first major war to have radio transmissions into combat, keeping the track of time became of utmost importance.

In 1916, New York Times published an article talking about the importance of the wristwatch, admitting it is more than a passing phase. Since then, the pocket watch became out of trend and the wristwatch became a standard means for both men and women.

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The early years

Major brands of watches like Omega watches and Rolex were mostly Europe based. Omega started in 1892 with the first minute-repeating wearable clock with a chime.

The early 20th century saw the rise of Rolex in London. Their wristwatches were sold to jewellers who would rebrand them under their own banner. Seiko was the first Japanese wristwatch brand to enter the market in 1913.

From then on, Patek Phillippe created their first minute-repeating watch for Ralph Teetor. And in 1925, they developed the world’ first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, several developments were introduced in the wristwatch industry with technological advancement.

Omega industrialises water-resistance, shock-proof, anti-magnetism diver watches around the 1940s.

In 1965, the Omega Speedmaster became the official watch of NASA.

Since 1969, Seiko begins to mass-produce what we now call quartz movement electronic watches.

Due to the globalisation of the market and increased availability of quality technology, the industry is growing with high-end designs of cheap branded watches, kids branded watches, Seiko watches for men and many more. From sports watches to tactical military watches to the finest designer luxury ones any style is available in online stores like Give & Take.

Andrew Collins

Hello, I am Andrew Collins, a Digital Content Writer, writing on behalf of Give And Take UK. It is a multi-brand online store for watches. Give And Take UK offers a wide array of affordable branded watches for men, women, and kids of various renowned brands like Sekonda, Seiko, Casio, Henley, Elizabeth Rose, and more.

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