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The Evolution of the Watch

It's hard to imagine a world where timepieces don't exist.

These little units have been an important accessory for centuries, and they are still popular with consumers today. The advancements of timepieces over the last 100 years have seen the introduction of timepieces that can be used underwater and in space.

Yes, the first wrist watch has been here for more than a hundred years now, which leaves us with the question of when the first wrist watch was made.
The first watch was created in 1868 by Patek Phillipe and was designed for Countess Koscowicz. At the time, Patek Phillipe was a watchmaker based in Switzerland, which explains the rich watch history in the country.

In this piece, we dive deeper into the history of watches – from pocket watches to the automatic watch and quartz watches – to see how far these pieces of accessories have come.


 Pocket Watch


What is the oldest watch in the world?

When talking about what the oldest watch in the world is, there are a series of concerns to have in mind.

For one, not all watches are wristwatches. There are a couple of mechanical clocks which come as pocket watches or simple chain watches over time.

That said, the oldest watch is believed to be the Pomader watch which was designed sometime in the 16th century. With that timeframe, it looks like this watch came before the one Patek Phillipe designed for the Countess of Hungary.

However, the Pomader, which was made in the early 16th century (1505) by Peter Heinlein, is a small portable pendulum clock that mimics the idea behind the first wristwatch. After all, these watches are meant to be carried around to tell the time portably instead of having to look for a wall clock everywhere.

When it comes to timepieces, though, we will defer to the first wristwatch that made its way to the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

Gold Pocket Watch

Who invented the first hand watch?

As you would have seen in this piece alone, there are many firsts in the world of watches.

We have the quartz movements making waves these days, mechanical clock watches with their balance wheel and extensive components, accurate clock-style watches, digital watches, and more.

In the world of hand watches alone, we could also debate that the wrist watch and portable clock fall into this category, leaving out the pocket watch (since it goes into the pocket, as the name suggests).

So, with that in mind, who invented the first hand watch?

The battle of who invented the first hand watch should be between Patek Philippe (who made the royal watch in 1868) and Peter Henlein (who invented the portable hand clock in 1505).

However, Patek Philippe might not be in contention at all when you realize that Abraham-Louis Breguet set up a modern wristwatch practice in 1775 and was credited with making a watch that went to the Queen of Naples in 1810.

This surely predates Patek, who is officially credited as making the first watch but comes after Heinlein's creation.

With many experts claiming that they are not sure if Heinlein truly made the watch or just signed off on it, the prize might just be Abraham-Louis' to claim.

We will leave this piece of history up here for you to decide who your first hand watchmaker is.

Silver Pocket Watch

When were men's wristwatches invented?

Although it seems that men have taken on the wrist watch niche these days, it was not always so. In fact, the production of these timepieces was mostly for women till necessity made it reasonable for men to have one also.

What necessity would make the men switch their fashion tastes so much that they have these accurate pieces of machinery telling the time on their wrists these days?

Men were used to carrying pocket watch with them, evolving from the small clock that Heinlein signed in the early 16th century. This also made a good part of the gentleman's dressing and spoke of a class without ever uttering a word.

When the first World War kicked in, though, things changed.

Some British and American soldiers found it convenient to keep track of the time with wristwatch rather than those that they had to reach into their coats to get. Since watches became a significant part of the war also (as they helped to sync and plan attacks better), the move to the wristwatch was made.

Thus, men did not start wearing these timepieces till the 20th century – and it was surely not a fashion-backed decision as it was for women.

After the war, most of the men kept their wristwatches on, and we started getting more of these modern designs for men. In little time, watchmakers moved in, and entire lines of wristwatches were developed for men, run by anything from mechanical energy to battery-powered mechanisms.

It is interesting to note that men created the first watches worn around the wrist, even if they were for women. Yet, they didn't have any of their own for well over a century.

Some interesting aspects of history to think about if you ask us.

Watches in war time

The Switch from Mechanical to Quartz Watch

One of the most notable changes in the world of traditional watches is the switch between movements.

Of course, you will still find the occasional mechanical wristwatch around today, but not as much as you would in the past.

For these early watches, they needed to be wound at intervals lest they stop working. When they do stop working, they lose time and need to be wound and reset.

The mechanical device was also popular with pocket watch styles; it featured on the first set of wristwatches also. However, all of the concerns above persisted.

Thus, advances in technology were needed to solve these problems, bringing about the battery-powered quartz movement watches we have around in the watchmaking industry today.

Now, you don't need to worry about winding your watch all the time; users have lesser moving parts to deal with, setting up the watch works just fine, and you can get quality service for your quartz timepieces almost anywhere today.

That, and we have not talked about how less costly they are.

These are some of the many reasons why we have chosen to go with the award-wining Japanese Miyota quartz movement for our timepieces at Nordgreen. They don't only allow us to offer you luxury at reasonable prices, but these modern timepieces make all the difference when it comes to maintenance, handling, and everyday usage.


The Advancements of The Wristwatch

In the latter half of the 20th century, timepieces went through a series of developments, many of which have affected the watches we use today.

For example, the Japanese watchmaker Seiko invented the first quartz, which saw a battery used in place of a spring. This revolutionized the watch industry, and watchmakers around the world began to experiment with new technology and designs.

This quartz movement has been replicated and redesigned in different forms, including the Japanese Miyota quartz movement that we use in our timepieces here at Nordgreen. Besides the fact that these battery-powered timepieces cost less to maintain, they will also keep time better than most mechanical watches and not set you back too much when buying.

In 1961, the first watch was worn in space by a Russian Astronaut. This led to many companies racing to create the next watch that would be worn in outer space.

Today, we have timepieces developed with technology that allows them to withstand extreme conditions such as can be found in the depth of water or outer space.

As if that's not enough, more features are being slapped on traditional wristwatches. One of such is the GMT bezel, which can be used for navigation, works wonders for tracking time in two time zones, and can even be used to measure time differences/ time elapsed.

With our men's Pioneer models, for example, you get a dual chronograph dial that can function as a stopwatch or counter, depending on what you need. Such inventions and features make the portable timepieces into unique elements of style that still step up to do much more.

The most radical developments of the wristwatch have occurred in the last decade or so. Now, many brands are creating smartwatches that can be charged like a phone. These new timepieces can do so much more than just tell the time and give an insight into what the future of timepieces will be like.


Get a wristwatch today

Whether we are going with Patek Philippe, trusting the words of Abraham-Louis Perrelet or anyone else who lays claims to creating the first wristwatch, one thing is sure:

Timepieces have come to redefine how we adorn our wrist and the entire fashion accessory market, and we love to see them.

Tap into this rich watch heritage and history by choosing Scandinavia-design-inspired timepieces that demonstrate a high level of class, luxury, and minimalist appeal.

Browse through our collection of men's watches and the nature-inspired women's watches that we have for you today to stand out from the bunch in every room that you enter.

Whether you are looking for something with a second hand, one to tell the hours, a wristwatch to pair with dinner gowns and suits, a timepiece that goes to the office with you, or a daily driver that handles outdoor operations smoothly, we've got something for you.

Brown Leather Watch Strap

July 31, 2018 by Nordgreen Copenhagen

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