The wristwatch is one of the indispensable accessories in today’s world. Women, men, adults, children, in all corners of the world, keep track of time by relying on watches of all shapes and colours. However, very few know the origins of the wristwatch.
Since the dawn of civilization, man has sought to capture time in a variety of devices, such as sundials and hourglasses. Over the years, the watch has evolved into the more sophisticated machines that accompany us today.
Origins of the wristwatch: first steps
It seems incredible, but the story of the origins of the wristwatch is relatively new and is only about 150 years old.
The origin of this type of watch can be traced back to a woman: the Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat, also the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, who in 1812 commissioned the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet to design a watch to be worn on her wrist.
Until then, watches had been a man’s thing and were not even dreamed of being worn so close at hand: watches were attached to a chain and kept in a pocket.
The larger ones were put on a piece of furniture and could also be found in church towers, where they marked the time for the people.
Then, some seventy years later, during a momentous event such as the First World War, they became the massively popular accessory we know today.
Queen of Naples Carolina Murat
The official history of the wristwatch
The history of the wristwatch officially began in 1868. It was in that year that Patek Philippe, the founding watchmaker of the Maison synonymous with luxury and elegance, created the first wristwatch on record. The watch, mounted on a gold bracelet, was purchased by Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, a lover of the arts and the technical avant-garde.
Louis Cartier and the aviator
It was at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1904 to be precise, that the history of the wristwatch reached a new turning point: its introduction to the male public. The credit can be given to two men: the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, one of the most important pioneers in the field of aeronautics, and Louis Cartier, watchmaker and founder of the eponymous Maison.
This time the request was one of practicality: Santos-Dumont asked his friend Cartier to make a watch that was easier to consult than the classic pocket watch when he was in the cockpit of his plane. Cartier had the simple idea of mounting the watch on a leather strap to keep it strapped to the wrist. Santos-Dumont found the innovation so comfortable that he began wearing it all the time, on and off planes.
That small gesture launched a fashion for wearing a wristwatch that was not only adopted by mankind, but that very design is a symbol of personality that Cartier has continued to produce since 1911: the classic Cartier Santos.
The First World War and time as a necessity
War brings technological innovation, and one bloody event also made its contribution to the evolution of the wristwatch: the First World War. The watch in the hand was much more comfortable and faster than the pocket watch and was adopted by military forces and soldiers.
After the war, the wristwatch became an instrument of everyday use and was no longer a luxury item for the upper and noble classes, but it was never abandoned as a status symbol.
Origins of the wristwatch: types and features
With the massification of the wristwatch, the wristwatch evolved and became an everyday instrument, but also a luxury of enormous value that was only available to a few. And it is not only about jewellery design, but also evolved in its interior by developing great technology.
There are three types of watches: analogue, digital and hybrid. All of them can exist in prestige models and should be kept in display cases and security cabinets for luxury watches.
The analogue watch, the one that never goes unfashionable, is the first choice of men and women, consisting of a high-precision mechanical mechanism that moves its hands around the dial to tell the time.
The digital watch, with its quartz technology, shows the time with its minutes and seconds on a numerical display. Modern developments make it possible to add light, colour, and a variety of styles that make it truly fascinating. It is powered by small batteries, known as “watch batteries”.
The hybrid features both classic and vintage designs. To make use of the precision of quartz, it combines all the virtues of the two previous ones in the same object.
Origins of the wristwatch: components
All wristwatches, from millionaire luxury objects to the most humble design, are made up of the same parts, which are interesting to recognize:
Dial or dial: This is the plane on which the hands run and keep time.
Crystal: Protects the dial of the watch. It can be made of various translucent and resistant materials.
Bezel: This is the ring that runs around the crystal to protect it. It can be fixed, movable or rotating and can be used to provide more information than just the time itself.
Crown: The small doughnut used in analogue watches to wind and set the time.
Case: This is the body that includes all the previous parts and inside it the watch mechanism itself.
Strap or bracelet: The last and greatest invention, with which the watch is adjusted to the wrist. Precious metals, leather, rubber, jewellery details. The aesthetic possibilities are endless.
Armando-G the protection your wristwatch needs
The history of the wristwatch you love is fascinating, and our company Armando-G is a connoisseur and specialist in protecting your heritage.
We are a Spanish company that has designed the ideal packaging and protection for your collections: personal and customizable display safes. We also create luxury safes, of a high aesthetic standard to protect and show your friends your desired and priceless treasure: your wristwatch collection.
If you want to protect your watches with the highest possible guarantee, please contact us. You can email us to [email protected] or if you prefer, call us on +34 93 636 14 16, and we will be delighted to help you.