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A Brief History Of  Watch

Watches evolved from portable spring driven clocks, which first appeared in 15th-century Europe. Portable timepieces were made possible by the invention of the mainspring in the early 15th century. In the 16th century Peter Henle who was originally a locksmith was credited  as the inventor of the “mini clock” or clock watches which is a wearable “clock”. How ever Many historians disagree with this as there are many Germans clock makers were creating miniature clocks at the same period. The miniature clocks powered by winding a mainspring which turned gears and then moved the hands, and kept time with a rotating balance wheel. However this miniature clocks evolved into smaller size clocks that can be kept in the pocket. Thus pocket watches was born.

In the 1960s, watch that runs on electricity was invented. This watch kept time by a quartz crystal which vibrate when electricity runs through it. These watch are known as quartz watch.

The quartz watches eventually took over the market from the mechanical watches in the 1980s.
The word “watch” was believe to have originate from the old English word “woecce” which meant watchman. This is because the watchman use the watch to keep track of their watch (shift).

In 1571 Robert Dudley presented a wristwatch which was described as an “arm watch” to Queen Elizabeth I. The concept of watches which can be worn on the wrist were first exclusively worn by women while men used pocket watches until the early 20th century. Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria introduce pocket watch with attached chain known as “Albert chain”. The pocket watch comes with a chain attached to it and a clip on the other end. The clip were secure to the outer garment as the pocket watch is tuck into the outer garment’s pocket. This is to prevent the pocket watch from dropping on the floor or got lost.

Wristwatches, often marketed as bracelets, for women until the late 19th century. At the end of the 19th century the military men start to wear wrist watch in the form of a pocket watch with strap. This is to help them to synchronizing the army movement plan without their enemies knowing it and as it was not practical to use pocket watch while mounting on a horse in a war, the officers began wear the watch on the wrist it is more practical and easy to view it.
In 1893, a company in London by the name Garstin Company design, patented and produce a wristwatch called “Watch Wristlet”, this create a market for men’s wristwatches.

Manufacturers began producing purpose-built wristwatches in the early 20th century. In 1903 Swiss company, Dimier Frères & Cie patented a wristwatch design with the now standard wire lugs. In 1910 Rolex became the first wristwatch to receive certification as a chronometer and it also win an award in 1914 from Kew Observatory.

The Quartz Crisis

The rush to develop the first quartz watch begins not long after WWII ends.Seiko produce one of the first quartz clock called Seiko Crystal Chronometer QC-951 and it was use in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Then Seiko and Longines unveil the first quartz pocket watch in 1966.In the late 1969, Seiko unveil the world’s first quartz watch called Astron.The Ebauches SA Beta 21 which is the first quartz analog watch develop by the Swiss was unveil to the public in 1970 at the Basel fair. In the same year Pulsar, the world’s first electronic digital watch was introduce by Hamilton Watch Company which was marketed in 1972. It comes in a 18-carat gold case.The all electronic digital watch was also the first to use a digital display illuminate by the LEDs. It was sold for about US2100/- which is equivalent to about US12,200 in 2015 US dollar value.

Omega Marine Chronometer the first watch ever to be certified as a Marine Chronometer was introduce by Omega in 1974.Omega Chrono-Quartz the world’s first analog/digital was introduce in 1976 and a year later, the first completely LCD chronograph wristwatch was introduce by the same company.

However the Swiss mechanical watch which dominated the world market did not anticipate the rise of the quartz watches. They never expect the quartz watches would gain momentum.

Many watch-making industries in other countries start to further develop the technology and started the mass production of quartz watches and made them affordable. The popularity of the quartz technology upset the economy of the Swiss watch industry resulted in a reduction in the size of the industry which see the drop of watch employment from about 90000 to 30000 between 1970 and 1988. The crisis reach a critical point in 1983. The Swiss watch industry, which had 1,600 watchmakers in 1970,declined to 600 by 1983.

Upon realizing that the crisis has reached a critical point, the Swiss research consortium, in order to revive the Swiss watch industry, they introduced the SWATCH.

The Swatch was sold in a sealed plastic case, sold as collectible items as well as a disposable commodity as it has only few moving parts. In less than two years almost three millions were sold.The Swatch achieve huge success and become the world largest watch manufacturer.

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