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Wrist Watches, History and Scope

Article by Ed Terran

By technical definition, not that you needed it, is “a watch is a timepiece that is made to be worn by a person”. What amazes me is that for all the people that wear watches on a daily basis, I bet very few of you take the time to wonder about the history of them or look at your watch and wonder how it does all the things that is does for you on a daily basis.

I would wager that the only time you really give a thought to your watch is when you forget to put it on, when the band breaks or when the battery dies. I mean let’s get real, as long as it is working like it’s supposed to, you really have no need to think about it.

A good portion of the reason they as so reliable is because so much has happened throughout time to make them as trouble free as they are.

The watch actually dates back to early time, pardon the pun, and the first portable watch was worn on a FOB and was known as a pocket watch and these made their appearance in the 1600s. Bet you didn’t know that watches were that old.

Today’s watches for the most part are either powered by light, battery or the kinetic energy of your movement or a combination there of. But back when they were in their infancy stage, watches had to be wound. You pulled a little pin out and manually twisted it many times back and forth until the internal spring was wound tight and it would slowly unwind and cause the gears to move which then made the hands move.

At first the watch merely told the user the hour, then the second and as technology evolved, the date and day of the month was added. As the Swiss watchmakers got better at making things small and more accurate the functions that were available on the watch began to grow. There were models that did not just a few things, but 33 things or more. One model could account for when leap year would actually happen and automatically make that adjustment and add or skip the day as needed. What is truly amazing is that all of this happened before and without the use of computers. Yes someone actually had to use a brain to figure it all out by hand and then they had to make it work in the real world.

As you should be able to tell by now, by the time we got to the complicated features available on the modern watches with the multiple time zone displays, split second hands and quartz technology and multiple functions. There was a lot of hard earned history behind the thought process and the early pioneers are the ones that really laid the ground work with all the development of the technology that makes today’s watches what they are.

So, the next time you strap on your trusty watch, say a silent thank you to the people that started it all way back when.

About the Author

Ed Terran is the pen name for the editor of a USA watches list and a UK watch list

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