In the beginning people could only tell the time from sun dials which they placed over doorways of their homes or businesses, showing midday and the four stages of the sun as it travels throughout the day, the other forms of clocks for telling time were water clocks, not easy to transport when you were on the move. In the 1500’s with the invention of the springs, portable clocks and watches were produced. One locksmith from Germany Peter Henlein created the “Nuremberg Eggs” which could be put on the table instead of being hung from the wall, they only had an hour hand as the minute hand was not introduced until much later and they lost time as the spring unwound but they were popular with the wealthy individuals as they were a truly portable timepiece. Have a look at womens mvmt watch review for more info on this.
With the invention of the humble spring the world of clocks and watches took a giant leap into the forward. Men didn’t wear wrist watches back in the 1800’s they were thought to be too feminine and only ladies wore them. Men had a watch on a chain which they kept in the pocket of their vest which was called a fob pocket. Remember in the old movies, there would be someone standing at the train station taking out his watch on a gold chain from his fob pocket checking the time, today the fob pockets are still on the vest of men’s 3 piece suits. It wasn’t until someone tied one of these watches to his wrist with a piece of string so he could kept track of time and keep working that he asked a watchmaker to make a watch he could wear on his wrist, a couple of lugs were attached to the sides of the watch and a strap was put on so he could wear it.
It took a long time for this to become popular as the first real use was in the military and watches were worn by soldiers so they could synchronise battle plans, check time without fumbling with a pocket watch, Soldiers wore watches in the Boer War and in WW1. After the Great War more men were wearing watches as they had done during the war and it became recognised as a tribute to those who had served their countries on the battle fields so from this time on women weren’t the only ones wearing watches. By 1920 it was fashionable for men to wear a watch and new designs were being made by a whole range of watchmakers, glass faces were replaced with plastics, different metals were used for the casing, minute hands were added and the rest is history.
When I was child, watches weren’t really worn by children unless you were from the upper class as most families couldn’t afford to buy their children a watch, when out playing one day I remember asking my friend what the time was but neither of us had a watch so he pulled up his sleeve looked at his arm and said “A hair passed a freckle” and we burst out laughing, it shows how far we have come over a short period of time. How many children have a watch today?
The first watch I ever got was back in 1960. Two sailors we knew had just returned from Singapore and brought these watches back for us as gifts I do remember they didn’t last all that long maybe because I didn’t know how to treat or look after it properly, I probably over-wound it, breaking the main spring.
A few years later I was given another watch from a close friend of the family he was an American Pilot and it was a gold Bulova which I still have to this day although I don’t wear it. Every time I see or think about it, I see the person who gave it to me, unfortunately he passed away a short time ago so he and his watch are constantly on my mind.