The story of the wristwatch is a both remarkable and interesting story. It all started as an instrument for soldiers in the 1880s to coordinate attacks without the enemy intercepting any signals, which prove to be a very efficient tool on the battlefield. At this time no manufacturer actually made purpose built wristwatches so imaginative soldiers took the matter in their own hands and strapped their pocket watches on to leather strips and tied it around their wrist for a more accessible view of when to charge or hide. A man named Hans Wilsdorf whose goal was to build affordable wristwatches for everyone later recognized this amazing solution. His company was created 1905 and is today the most famous watch brand in the world. Rolex.
During the First World War the standard pocket watch began to fade out due to the complicity of digging in your pocket and see the time whilst the enemy shot at you. From this time wristwatches grew more and more in popularity creating a big post war market for this new way of seeing the time. As time went by these watches became more and more sophisticated and in 1923 the world’s first self-winding clock was introduced and the same principal technology is used in some watches even today.
The success of the wristwatch was now clear to see and by the 1930s the ratio between wristwatches and the traditional pocket watch was 50:1. The market for these convenient little clockworks grew explosively and it didn’t take long for everybody to wear one every waking hour.
In 1969 the quartz watches, using an electronic oscillator regulated by a piece of quartz was introduced and only 11 years later it had taken over most of the watch market from the mechanical watch industry thanks to the advantages of not being required to be wounded up. This type of clock began being used on walls and is very present today in schools, offices etc. But among the luxury brand the old fashioned mechanical watch stayed because these watches were an absolute piece of art with many man-hours behind them. Todays watches don’t require any winding, they use the movement of the arm when the wearer walk or move the arm to generate energy that is being used to move the dozen of gears and the clock hands.
Since the introduction of cell phones the upcoming generations haven’t seen the wristwatch for it’s sole purpose, it has more and more become an accessory or a symbol of success. But it has survived this trial and is still very present in today’s society. Rolex is a great example that shows great engineering and quality can never be outdated.