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History of Watches

History of Watches

Timepieces have been part of human history for time immemorial, and their journey from the crude sundials to the cool fashion items is fascinating. Read on to know more about the development of the art of keeping time...
Shashank Nakate
Egypt and Mesopotamia were the regions where stationary as well as portable sundials were first developed. An old sundial from ancient Egypt (1500 BCE) can be found even today. However, even before the creation of sundials, Egyptians made use of pyramids. It is believed that one of the earliest watches was developed in Italy.

Winding the Key Back

Portable clocks operated by springs were the earliest forms of modern timepieces. The development of the mainspring helped make watches portable. Only one hand (hour-hand) was present in these watches. Made of brass, these timepieces had a cylindrical, drum-like shape. Striking movements and alarm mechanisms played an important part in the working of these timepieces.

Pocket Watches
The timeline of pocket watches extends from 1600 A.D. to 1657 A.D. Also known as watch fobs, pocket watches were made to fit in pockets. These watches were round in shape, but the mechanism was the same as earlier forms of timepieces. The verge escapement mechanism was used in these watches. It was used in driving a foliot. One of the parts was dumbbell-shaped. Weights were present on its ends. It facilitated the back and forth oscillation. There was, however, great scope for improvement in these watches. The focal point of improvement was the steep torque curve. The device, called 'fusee', proved to be of great use in evening the steep torque curve. The fusee was a conical pulley connected to the mainspring barrel; a chain was wrapped around the fusee. The fusee became a standard device being used in pocket watches. It was used in watches for a long time, till the 19th century.

Wrist Watches
The wrist watch was first created by Patek Phillipe in 1868. The commercial aspect was introduced to the activity of wrist watch making in 1880. Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany had ordered as many as 2,000 watches for the naval officers of Germany. This event was important from the point of a rise in popularity of wrist watches. Alberto Santos Dumont, an aviator from Brazil, wanted a watch which would allow viewing his timing (during flights) without having to take hands off the controls. The 'Santos watch' was developed by Edmond Jaeger in an attempt to make a timepiece suitable for this need. 1911 was when the Santos wrist watches went on sale. The trench watches used by soldiers lost their popularity owing to their bulky size. These watches resembled pocket watches. In the year 1923, a self-winding system was developed by John Hardwood. Technological development in the field of wrist watches opened the market for these goods. Today, many famous watch brands are available in the market. The best men's watches are made in Germany, Switzerland, and Britain.

Electric Watches
The period between 1950 and 1969 saw the development of electric watches. An electromagnetically driven tuning fork was the core of electric watches. A battery-powered solenoid was used for the purpose of operating this tuning fork. 1957 was when these watches started appearing in the market. There are many brands of expensive watches for men and women in the market.

Pocket and wrist watches were handy therefore, became popular in no time. Today's watches have undergone a great deal of improvement in terms of technology being used. The best watch brands ride on the wave of latest technological developments and offer quality products. Today's watches even partner smartphones to remind us of our tasks and correspondence! The world of 'watchcraft' is certainly ticking over!
Black Wristwatch
Vintage pocket clock