With the Apple watch set to take the market by storm, we’re taking a look back at the differents fashions that have governed our watches.
Image Source: Eddi
Way Back When
The grandfather of the watch, the portable spring-driven clock, was first invented in the 1400s.
The forerunner to the pocket watch, which interestingly didn’t catch on for another two hundred years. The pocket watch itself was made fashionable by court dandies in the 1600s.
Robert Hooke and Christiaan Huygens were the boffins who came up with the balance spring in 1657, although they argued over who had invented it. This addition made watches useful. Before they could run fast or slow by hours but with the balancing spring, the error was reduced to a mere ten minutes per day. This meant that a minute hand could be added to the face -Yep, you read that right. The original watches only had one hand! The balancing spring also encouraged a whole array of clever-clogs to come up with all kinds of improvements, sparking a wave of innovation that continues to this day.
Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I had a wristwatch? Well, she did. It was a gift from a rumoured lover – but, that’s a different story entirely. Then, as now, leather was the most expensive and fashionable choice for wristbands. In fact, many modern leather watches band collections still channel the elegance of their predecessors – some styles really are timeless.
For some time, in fact, right up until the 1850s, it was the fashion for men to wear pocket watches and wristwatches remained exclusively feminine. It was the military that made them a fashion accessory for men, issuing soldiers with wristwatches so that they could synchronize their maneuvers.
The Electric Watch
Watches didn’t operate with a battery until 1957, before that they had required winding. The innovation of battery powered watches had quite an impact on fashion, with each country coming up with their own innovations and take on the look. The battery led the way for innovative new styles and more compact designs. It was during this time that the Swiss rose to true dominance in the watch world, becoming the most fashionable manufacturer.
The Digital Watch
Arguably the biggest innovation since the balancing spring, 1972 saw the digital watch hit the market. Hamilton’s 18 carat gold Pulsar gave the fashion world a real glimpse into a space-age future.
The 1980s saw a trend toward the inclusion of separate date displays and stopwatch functions. The humble watch was already gaining a reputation for multi-functionality it had never before possessed.
This innovation has continued to the point where our watches can now tell us how many calories we’ve burned in a day and how well we’ve slept. Indeed, they are undoubtedly one of the great, enduring fashion accessories. Versatile, practical pieces that have been constantly reinvented over the past five centuries to stay relevant to a changing society. With wearable technology set to take the fashion world by storm, some might argue that the humble watch is likely to be the focus of even more innovation over the coming decades.