Watch Time Line

The earliest known date of a watch being produced was in 1524. Other watches appeared in 1548, and were probably of German or French origin. The Swiss and the English products do not occur till about 1575.

Before 1600, the timepieces of the day were driven by weights, and therefore were impractical to transport on one’s person. The main problem in portable timekeeping was the driving power. The

Watches history
Watches history

first movements were made of steel, but brass movements appeared shortly thereafter. The first movements were straight verge movements, with no balance springs. These first timepieces were notoriously inaccurate. Most watches had only the hour hand and had to be wound twice a day. It was before the introduction of the gear cutting engine and steel production was not as precise as it is today. The variations in quality, and the fact that many steel alloys had not even been discovered at this time, meant that timekeeping was not the art it is today.

After 1600, watches were becoming more a jewelry piece. The cases were of gilt metal or precious metal, and were engraved, jeweled, pierced and enameled for decoration. Thus the watch was seen as a piece of jewelry that was more or less ostentatious depending on whether it was exposed (pendant) or not (pocket watch).
It was not until 1675 that a spiral balance spring was used. This one step took daily timekeeping accuracy from fractions of an hour to fractions of a minute. With the increase in accuracy it was also noted that the position of the watch had an effect. The watch would gain or lose time depending on the pendant and face positions. Because accuracyoldwatch6 had increase so much, a minute hand and a dial subdivided into minutes was added. The face convention was to have the hours marked in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numbers. A fourth wheel was also added so that the watch could be wound once a day instead of every 12 hours.

In 1675, Charles II of England introduced long waistcoats. This became the fashion, and men’s watches were then worn in pockets of the waistcoat instead of pendant style from the neck.

Watches history
Watches history

In 1704, English watchmakers Facio de Duillier and P. and J. Debaufre developed methods for using jewels as bearings.

By 1715, this practice was still rare. After about 1725 it was common to find a fairly large diamond endstone mounted in the cock. However, even at the end of the period, only the upper bearing of the balance shaft, i.e. in the cock, were likely to have jewels. For nearly a century the art of jewelling remained exclusive to the English. In about 1715 Sully discovered that forming a small sink around each hole would retain the oil, due to its surface tension. This was not oldwatch7usually found in watches before 1750.

The earliest enamel dials were somewhat dull and pitted, but after 1725 they are smooth and polished. The markings on the face included bold Arabic numerals for the hours. Most of the minute markings had disappeared or made very small, and at 15-minute intervals. However, by the end of the century the markings on the faces became much lighter and more elegant

In 1726 Graham refined the horizontal, or cylinder escapement. This was more accurate than the verge, but also more fragile. Early cylinders were made of steel, and the escape wheel of brass. This promoted excessive wear on the cylinder, but this was corrected later. The cylinder, as an escapement, had a run of about 200 years.
In 1740 Frenchman Le Roy introduced a screw adjusted sliding plates containing pivot holes, so the escape wheel could be positioned very accurately.
The duplex escapement was invented by Dutertre in 1720, and modified to be more usable by 1750. The rack lever was invented by Abbe’de Hautefeuille in about 1720 and improved by

Watches history
Watches history

Litherland in England in 1791.

In 1761 John Harrison made a clock that was sufficiently accurate to be used to measure Longitude during a sea voyage . In spite of this feat, Harrison’s clock did not contribute significantly to horology as the timepiece was too complicated.oldwatch8

By 1800, the pocket chronometer was a readily available accurate watch.

By 1830, pair cases were rare, except on a verge watch. Where pair cases did exist, they were usually of silver or gold, with various shaped pendants and stirrup shaped bows.

After 1800 dials in four-colour gold became popular . This type of watch usually had lustrous gold hands

Around this period, the table roller lever escapement, which was first used in 1823, was becoming established.

The great Breguet started his own production in 1780. In 1787, he produced lever watches in France. A Swiss called Perrelet conceived self-winding watches in 1770. Breguet produced them from 1780

By 1850, in England, the lever watch reigned supreme. By 1860 the design of the lever had changed from a straight-sided design to a curved one

In 1814 Massey first used a push or pump winder with a rack operated by pushing the pendant that turned a ratchet on the fusee or going barrel.

The first true chronograph, was designed in 1844 by Nicole. It was not until 1862 that the contemporary three push oldwatch9system was used.

Up to 1840, watches were all hand-finished, so that parts were not interchangeable. The Swiss however, believed there was a market for cheaper, machine made watches with interchangeable

oldwatch1parts.

Frederic-Jalpy (17491812), was devised machine tools that laid the foundation for mass production.

Around the 1850’s the Americans were the first to begin volume production.

Waltham (1850-1950), Elgin (1864-on ) and Hamilton (1892-on). A different concept was followed by the Waterbury Watch Company, founded in 1878. They made a cheap machine made watch with only 54 parts. It had a mainspring coiled behind the watch and the whole movement turned once an hour.

In 1900, Guillaume produced an alloy such that when used with brass in a cut, compensated balance to eliminated middle temperature error.

The pocketwatch continued till the end of the Second World War (1945) but after that production was minimaloldwatch11

In 1945 quality wristwatches began to get complications that had been available in pocket watches.

The battery-powered watch was available in 1952 as an alternative to the automatic.

By 1970’s , these electronic watches were so successful.

Please remember that this is an unofficial account of the history, Should you happen to find any mistakes with our information then please let us know at info@watchtimeline.com

Watches history
Watches history