Brief History To Watches

Fascinating, beguiling, full of facts, stats and milestones… who knew that the road to today was so intriguing for the world of watches. Here’s how we got here, one important milestone at a time.

1485 One artist and a world-changing idea

Leonardo da Vinci sketched out the first designs for a clock.

1504 – 1508 The world welcomes the pocket watch

Peter Henlein creates the world’s first pocket watch.

1500s The first watches are worn around the neck

So-called ‘clock-watches’ fall into favour (small clocks that were worn on chains around the neck). 

1675 The humble waistcoat shapes the future of watches

Charles II is pivotal to the waistcoat becoming a hit in England – so popular was it that watches were reshaped to fit into the pocket.

1687 One patent, four ring-a-ding-dings every hour

Daniel Quare applies for a patent for his mechanism that sets off a bell every 15 minutes.

1657 The balance spring steps up to the plate

The balance spring, invented by either Robert Hooke or Christiaan Huygens (a matter of who remains in contention), improves the accuracy of watches significantly.

1680 – 1700 The minute hand emerges

The minute hand makes its first appearance in Britain in 1680 and a little later – 1700 – in France.

1780 An invention ahead of its time – Self-winding is invented

Abraham Louis Perrelet introduces his invention – providing watches of the future with the ability to self-wind.

1848 The first steps are taken for Omega

Louis Brandt sets up his first workshop, which would later lead to the Omega Watch Company.

1876 Mass production of watches begins

The sourcing of cheaper materials leads to the ability to mass produced dollar watches.

1884 GMT becomes a centre for time

The sourcing of cheaper materials leads to the ability to mass produced dollar watches.

1900s The world’s first wristwatch is worn

The so-called Wristlet was introduced – the world’s original wristwatch, however it was regarded as a passing fad and was, in any event, designed strictly for women only.

1904 A challenge for a pilot and his friend Cartier

Aviator Alberto Santos Dumont needed a way to keep both hands on the flight controls whilst checking his timing. His asked his friend, Louis Cartier, to solve his problem – for which Cartier invented the world’s first man’s wristwatch.

1908 Rolex sets up in business

The very first Rolex office, based in Switzerland, is set up.

1914 -1918 War and watches – The introduction of trench watches

During the chaos of the First World War soldiers needed to tell the time even when they had their hands full. In answer to this the army provided wrist watchers known as ‘trench watches’.

1957 The very first generation of electronic watches enter the market

Electricity finally reaches our wrists, and the first electric watches are a real hit for those who can afford them.

1982 In steps the Seiko TV Watch

As it turns out, Seiko were truly ahead of their time. This watch was capable of broadcasting live television.

2015 The Apple Watch Launches – The World’s First Smartwatch

The world’s first smart watch launches – to date, it has enjoyed daily sales topping 20,000 watches. Little wonder that so many competitors have followed suit – Samsung, LG, Huawei and Moto, to name but a few.


Check out our latest watches to keep up with the times