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Wristwatch - A Time Keeping Companion

Oh yes, it is that time again to dive into yet another completely bland and plain blog. But this time we have another story for you. If the title didn’t already give it away, even though it really should have, we are going to help you out. This one is about wristwatches. Within this blog your eyes will dance upon the words, and allow your mind to open up as you learn the rich history about the famous wristwatches that have crept their way into our wardrobes. Not only that, but you will find out some modern fun facts on the way. So, strap in, get a nice cup of tea, your cat, maybe some reading glasses, and make sure to turn of that cellphone – you wont want any distractions from this one. We are not trying to excite you here, remember, we are pretty boring.

The Early History of the Wristwatch

Picture of a wristwatch vintage advertisement.

The history of the wristwatch isn’t exactly what you’d expect, and quite honestly, upon learning it we were rather taken aback as well. However, you may be surprised to note that the wristwatch is a rather recent, but not so recent, fashion trend in human history. As you may have expected, the wristwatch has evolved from the infamous pocket watches of old. But you may be surprised as to how that may have happened, and what caused the evolution. Originally called the arm watch (as records show) in the 1570’s which was accounted as the first actual record of a wristwatch. The arm watch did not start to gain prominence until the 1900’s but was first worn by a prominent social figure in 1812 who just so happened to be the Queen of Naples. Yes, Naples had a queen. During 1880, the wrist watch got its first major mass production debut by the German military when 2,000 units were produced by Constant Girard for German Naval Officers. Soon after, the wrist watch appeared on a Brazilian aviator named Alberto Santos-Dumont who wanted to have the ability to tell time whilst in flight, without removing his hands from the controls of his aircraft. You may be surprised to hear the name of the individual who made that very watch for Alberto: Louis Cartier.

Oh yes, that’s right.

Louis Cartier the founder of the extremely famous, luxurious, and rather expensive jewelry company in France – Cartier. Louis, along with watchmaker Edmond Jaeger were the two individuals who constructed the customized wristwatch for Alberto. That watch gained much fame from his flights, and surely boosted the Cartier brand substantially.

World War I

War is never a good thing. But one could always argue that war does tend to bring about all sorts of innovations in technology, government, people, and even fashion. World War I was not exception when it came to the wrist watch. At this time, pocket watches were in wide use. When deployed, soldiers wanted to keep an eye on the time; however always reaching in to grab their pocket watch wasn’t always the most efficient way to carry out their duties; especially if they were carrying gear, or trying to survive. In the trenches, solders were then given something that was then called a “trench watch”. These early wristwatches were worn on the wrist with a leather strap. This advancement allowed the soldiers to be more equipped for warfare and still be able to tell time. It did not take long for the wristwatch to become a standard accessory in the officer’s kit. Advertisements started to pop up as the men in the military were required to purchase a specific type of watch which was not supplied by the military, specifically one with unbreakable crystal to withstand high combat situations. These watches also needed to be seen in the dark which was accomplished by radium. In 1917 with influence from the war, Cartier invented the Tank Watch. He was inspired by the Renault tanks that he observed on the Western Front. This watch is still available today, but it’s much more expensive than our watches! This watch will run you $1,900 or more.

Wristwatches Modern Advancements

Wristwatches were soon begging to get into everyone’s wardrobe. However, wrist watches were predominantly only worn by women before the 20th century. Contrary to its use in the first world war, this was only for mere decoration, and not by any means, meant to be practical. In the 1930’s the Breitling Watch Company unleashed the worlds first patent for the stopwatch. In the 1950’s the world saw a major leap in watch technology when electric powered watches hit the market for the first time. The balance wheel within these watches was powered by a solenoid which is a thin wire wrapped around a metallic core that produced a magnetic field when a current was run through it. The quartz watch was the baby of the electric watch, which came to be in 1969. The quartz watches removed all the mechanics and moving parts from previous watches and replaced them with battery power. With this advancement, wristwatches became more shock absorbent, maintained a better accuracy on time, and required less maintenance to keep them going. The battery power removed the need for the winding motion to keep them telling time, however, many wind-up watches are still available today for those vintage lovers. Those vintage style watches are generally hand crafted, in entirety, by an artform that is not found, or common, in today’s world of mass production.

The Wristwatch of Today

We all know they are here. Wristwatches are becoming integrated with our technology more than ever before. But the love for the quartz, and mechanical, watches are still here with us. With the cellphone and being connect a large factor in today’s world, and the fact that most cellphones already had the time on them, made wrist watches less of a practical need in modern society. However, they are still seen as a fantastic fashion accessory – and we all know how good you really want to look for that special someone 😊.

Fun Quick Facts About Wristwatches

  • In most watches catalogs and in-store displays you’ll find the time is displayed as ten minutes past ten o’clock or sometimes ten minutes to two o’clock. The popular meaning for this is that it’s “Happy Time” or that the clock is smiling which becomes an emotional marketing tool to encouraging you to feel good when you’re looking to buy that particular watch or clock.
  • Many years ago, devices for telling the time were created by the Egyptians around 1500BC. Known as sundials time was measured by a shadow falling in sections across a marked area. Water clocks were used later with more accuracy.
  • Rolex created the first wrist watches with the date on the dial, and the first watch to display two different time zones at the same exact time.
  • During World War One it was common for men to wear watches on their wrists rather than on a chain around their neck. This simple change made it easier for men to tell the time without moving their hand. Previously men wore pocket watches on chains and women wore wrist watches.
  • Of all the colors available for watches most people will own or be given a black watch during their lifetime. The unisex color is a favorite with men’s watches and ladies watches alike.
  • Continuing the fashion of watches, Breguet watches began in 1775 with Abraham Louis Breguet setting up his watch-making shop in Paris.

We hope you enjoyed learning about your favorite wrist companion! Next time your eyes dart to the timekeeper on your wrist, maybe you will think about the years of history that went into making that very watch! Make sure you checkout our collection of watches and see if any suit your style here!






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