How did the clock turned into a wristwatch? A brief history

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Since last few centuries wrist watches have been used in many cultures as symbols of social status. Among many other reasons, only three are, perhaps the most dominant to attract people to use them on their wrists. These are:

  1. Precision
  2. Elegance
  3. Convenience

This, however, does not mean that they are simply bought for their technical reasons or just the practical benefit of telling time. They are also used as an aesthetic accessory. The aesthetic value of watches is clear from the fact they are used both by men and women. This shows a universal aesthetic appeal to both genders. So function and beauty are both combined and that is the reason that watches are the most collectible of all jewelry types.

People even collect watches simply as a hobby. It does not matter, whether you are after modern watches or just like to collect the vintage or antique timepieces; the hobby of watch collection is increasingly becoming a high turnover business. Not only that, many people consider it prudent to invest in designer wristwatches for future value.

Like everything else, watches have their own history. Before the 20th century, clocks were mainly used as pocket watches or clocks with a pendant attached to something. With the coming of new industry, sports, technology, fashion, trends, styles etc. these clocks changed into wristwatches with many different kinds. Who introduced the first concept of wearing clocks on wrists is any body’s guess. However, the popular opinion is that a nanny needed to free her hands by holding the clock as she either did not have pocket or there was no chain attached to the pocket watch. She used a silk band to tie the watch around her wrist and since then the idea of wristwatches developed. The idea was further taken by designers and once it hit the worldwide market, leather straps were introduced to replace the silk bands.

It is said, that the regular wristwatch as we see it today was not yet adopted unless Louis Cartier made one for Santos Dumont who was the pioneer of flying. The Louis Cartier watch became the first model for the development of other wristwatches at mass level. Most classical watches of that time were round in shape. But as time passed, other shapes were introduced like the polyplan shape of Movado. Patek Philippe went a step ahead with the innovation and introduced the rectangular shape. Other watch makers like Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, Jaeger Le Coultre and some others entered the market and produced a variety of shapes and designs.

It was in 1920 that Rolex made its debut and manufactured its Prince model which was dual time and had the second hand larger than the minute hand. Jaeger Le Coultre did not remain behind and jumped high by introducing “Reverse”. It derived its name from its function which was it could turn 180 digress along with its case. It became very popular and stayed as market leader for a number of years.

The history of wristwatches is a very deep subject and these paragraphs are just like to scratch the surface of the vast and massive amount of knowledge buried in history.

 

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