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It’s hard to imagine a world where wristwatches don’t exist. They’ve been an important fashion accessory for centuries, and they are still popular with consumers today. The advancements of timepieces over the last 100 years has seen the introduction of wristwatches that can be used underwater and in space. Now our watches are becoming digital, as new technology brings forth a new age of watchmaking.
However, classic wristwatches will always be desired, as they have been since their introduction in the early 19th century. So, when exactly were wristwatches first invented, and what caused them to become something that we still wear over 200 years later?
By the early 1800s, the technology of clocks had improved greatly, and watchmakers were benefiting from the developments that were being made. In 1810, the horologist Abraham Louis-Breguet made the first self-winding wristwatch for the Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat. Murat’s fame brought the timepiece mass public attention, and soon after this, the watch became a must-have accessory for women everywhere.
Wristwatches were worn exclusively by women for almost 100 years, with men continuing to wear pocket watches until the First World War. US and British soldiers adopted wristwatches at this point, as they were easier to handle during battle.
Soon after the war ended, the market for men’s watches exploded. Suddenly, watches were for everyone, and this led to a revolution within the watch industry. Watchmakers saw an opportunity to market watches as a necessary male item, one that embodied the spirit of strength. Companies mass-produced watches and through clever advertising, managed to convert the image of a military item into a necessary timepiece that civilians should own as well.
In the latter half of the 20th century, wristwatches went through a series of developments, many of which have affected the watches we use today. The Japanese watchmaker Seiko invented the first quartz movement which saw a battery used in place of a spring. This revolutionized the watch industry, and watchmakers around the world began to experiment with new technology and designs.
In 1961, the first watch was worn in Space, by a Russian Astronaut. This led to many companies racing to create the next watch that would be worn in Space. Today, we have watches that can withstand the deepest depths of the ocean in order for people to go diving with a timepiece, and some wristwatches can go into space and still work perfectly.
The most radical developments of the wristwatch have definitely occurred in the last decade or so. Now, many brands are creating smartwatches, that can be charged like a phone. These new wristwatches can do so much more than just tell the time, and give an insight into what the future of timepieces will be like.
It’s clear that over the past couple of centuries, wristwatches have transformed in many ways. But, one thing has remained the same and that is the incomparable global popularity of the wristwatch.
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