History of Watches
Was there a beginning of time? Is time a problem? We need to keep track of time. Sometimes, we complain that time is passing too quickly and that it is flying by. Moon phases are important for farmers. In the past, the Egyptians also invented the sundial to measure time. Sticks and stones were placed in the sand. The day and night were eventually dissected into smaller and mechanical elements. A day was divided into 24 hours, with 60 minutes per hour. In 725AD, a monk managed to build a mechanical clock. China was the inventor of giant clocks. Some of the clocks were powered by dripping water from a chain drive. Sailors and policemen needed to monitor time. The personal watch was invented. Nowadays, watches are a fashion statement. By the 16th century, pocket watches were common in nature. The modern watch had already taken shape during that period. The mainspring was invented in the 1500s and it helped to power the watch. Watch making is an art that is passed down from one generation to the next. It was a challenge to keep the internal components lubricated. In 1704, jewels were used as these helped to reduce friction. It is common for the number of jewels to be advertised at the back of a watch. In general, most watches had at least 17 jewels. In 1750, enamelled dials enabled the watch to be seen at night. The first self-winding watch was invented in 1780 by Abraham-Louis Perrelet. By the 19th century, chronometers and second hands were introduced. Sapphire crystals are harder than hardened quartz. In 1884, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted. It is fundamental for international schedules. Various alloys were invented in the 1900s and some of them are resistant to shock and temperature variations. A watch strapped to the wrist was easier to review than a pocket watch. In 1914, Eterna invented the alarm watch. In 1926, Rolex invented the first water-proof Oyster case. The Hamilton’s Electric 500 was the first electronic watch and was produced in 1957. Electronic watches are way more accurate than mechanical watches. Modern electronic automatic quartz watches were invented by Casio. The first GPS watch was invented by Casio in 1999. Are watches dead with the advent of modern technology?
It is simply human nature that people want what they cannot have, and the wealthier someone is, the more willing they are to invest in the work of craftsmen. – Rick Sapp
The watch, regardless of its form, will survive the test of time because of Man’s need to control his destiny, to count his accomplishments, to cram a lot of activities into a single day or night. Time stands still for no one. The watch is the messenger. – Rick Sapp
Armand Nicolet – Swiss luxury watch brand. Everything is developed in-house and the company was founded in 1902.
Ball – Webb C. Ball was appointed as chief time inspector of American railroads in 1891. He created strict guidelines for timepieces and ensured that the timepieces kept to these guidelines.
Baume and Mercier – Created in 1918. In 1919, they were awarded the Geneva Hallmark for fine watch-making.
Blancpain – Founded in 1735. It is one of the oldest watch manufacturer’s around.
Breguet – They are known for complications like the Brequet overcoiled hairspring, tourbillion, minute repeater etc.
Breil – The watches blend art and technology. It originated from Italy. Many of the watches are chunky and bold.
Breitling – founded in 1884. Specializes in chronographs and timers. The first independent chronograph pushpiece was invented in 1915. The first self-winding chronograph was invented in 1969.
Bulova – This is actually an America company, but has Swiss manufactured watches. The Accutron collection was involved in the first Moon landing. There are also quartz variations.
Bvlgari – It was originated from Greece. The watches make up 29% of total revenue. They have manufactured their own in-house movements lately.
Carl F. Bucherer – Over 90 years of experience. Known for their elegant design and quality. The brand was re-launched in 2001.
Cartier – Founded in Paris in 1847. The first watches were introduced in the late 1800s. The popular ‘Tank’ watch was launched in 1919.
Chopard – Founded in 1860. The watches were introduced in Europe during the industrial revolution. It is also well known for their jewellery.
Corum – Founded in 1955. Every year, limited editions are released. They are known for high-quality, expensive watches.
Davudoff – Zino Davidoff focused on quality and travelled the world extensively for ideas in watch-making. He knows the meaning of dedication and craftsmanship etc.
Fendi – An Italian brand founded in 1925 that was known for their leather goods. All their watches use ETA movements. The production is now licensed to Taramax.
Frederique Constant – It is established in 1988. End to end involvement, from initial design to final assembly. The mission is to apply the values of ‘Design’; ‘Quality’ and ‘Innovation’. The slogan is to ‘Live your passion’.
Girard-Perregaux – Founded in 1791. It became a subsidiary of PPR in 2011.
Gucci – In 1921, it was selling leather goods and luggage. The goal is to marry sensibility with craftsmanship. The ‘green-red-green’ design is reminiscent in the 1950s.
Hamilton – founded in the US in 1892. They are known for their eye-catching shapes, materials and designs. Their watches have appeared in movies and they have an aviation heritage. Now, it is a member of the Swatch group.
Harry Winston – The first collection was introduced in 1989. They are known for their modern complications.
Hermes – It began as a saddle shop in 1837. It started producing watches and jewelry in 1950/1960s. The antique pieces are very valuable indeed.
Hublot – It was founded in 1980. Their ‘Big Bang’ looks like a huge porthole. It was later purchased by LVMH.
IWC Schaffhausen – It was founded in 1868 by F.A. Jones. Their famous watch collections are the Pilot’s Watches, Portguese, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Da Vinci, Portofino etc. Some of their watches feature a pocket watch sized movement.
Longines – The first watches were produced in 1867. It is now a member of the Swatch group.
Montblanc – Started in 1906 and sold pens. It entered watchmaking only in 1997.
Movado – Their famous models are the Calendomatic and the Digital series.
Omega – It was founded by Louis Brandt in 1848. They are well known and they produced a Speedmaster which was eventually taken on the moon.
Oris – Founded in 1904. Their movement 601 is very popular even today. They supply watches to the BMW Williams F1 team.
Patek Philippe – Founded in 1851. In-house manufacture and the master of complications. Fetches high prices at auctions.
Piaget – In 1960, they developed the thinnest automatic movement of 2.3mm. It also has the thinnest tourbillion movement of 3.5mm. They are known for their ultra-thin watches.
Rado – First collection was launched in 1957. Now, it is housed under the Swatch Group. Their watches contain hardmetals like tungsten, carbide, ceramics etc. Their watches have won many international awards.
Raymond Weil – Founded in 1976. They are known for their novel concept and design. Their watches are cultural icons. The Tango and Don Giovanni Cosi Grande watches are very classy.
Rolex – The name was registered in 1915. Their watch was awarded Class A precision in 1914, better than marine chronometers. The name was finally changed to Rolex SA.
Seiko – Founded in 1881. They created the first quartz chronograph. They are the official timer for sporting events and they have the higher class ‘Credor’; ‘King Seiko’ or ‘Grand Seiko’ line.
Tag Heuer – It has its roots from 1860. They created the micrograph, which was accurate to 1/100 of a second. Their watches are usually associated with racing and driving.
Tissot – Founded in 1853. They produced their first anti-magnetic watch in 1930. Some of their watches are made from plastic. It is a member of the Swatch group. They are known for their touch sensitive technology.
Ulysse Nardin – Founded in 1846. Known for marine chronometers. However, they produce complicated timepieces now.
Victorinox – Known as a knife manufacturer. It acquired Wenger in 2005 and supplies multi-purpose knives to the Swiss army.
Wenger – Founded in 1893. Started producing military watches in 1988.
Zenith – High end luxury Swiss watch manufacturer. They are known for their quality and precision. They produce their movements in-house. The El Primero movement has a high-beat of 5 Hz. It was purchased by LVMH in 1999.