History of the watch : from the clock to the jewel

Beaubleu watch and the silver jewel Le Moderne

The watch as we know it today is the result of many evolutions though the time. The watch that you wear has a function, but it can also be a jewel, a mark of distinction. So how did it come? 

The sundial

Everything started in 1450 before JC with the emergence of the sundials in Egypte. Indeed, after observing the day and night cycle, the Human, in all civilizations, wanted to measure the time. This is how the first sundial appears. It was then a simple instrument laid down on a flat surface of 360°, divided in 24 parts (the hours of a day). This revolution permits to have temporal markers and conditions the time of work, the time of opening and closing of the city, …

The public clocks, ancestors of the watch

Have you ever seen the clock of the cathedral of Chartres? It seems strange with its 24 temporal benchmarks. However, it is a good example of weight-driven clock mechanism. From the 14th century, you can find his type of clock at the top of many towers of big cities. But we have to wait until the 15th century to have 12 hours dials.

From the clock to the pocket watch

From the 15th century, the watchmaking industry starts its golden period. The mechanical clocks become smaller. However, before this step, the balance of the city clock is replaced by a spring with manual winding. This spring makes the clock mobile without stopping the movement. Indeed, the weight-driven clock mechanism had to work vertically.

The portable clocks become really desired by the richest people and quickly become smaller to be worn at the neck. Then they are flattened to become the gusset watches.

The wirstwatch

During the 18th century, the first wristwatch appears in Geneva. Too feminine and less precised than the gusset watches, they were left for women. It is during the War, in the army, at the pilots’ writs and German officer’s wrists that the wristwatch evolves and becomes essential. After the War, le wristwatch continues its improvement with the creation of new horological complications, but also with the work on the esthetics side with the add-on of precious stones

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