Evolution of the wristwatch
As civilization developed, the measurement of time became more important, and different techniques were developed, increasingly complex to achieve an accurate measure of time.
At first, watches were something exclusive due to the high cost of manufacturing them, and it is not until the arrival of industrialization when the use of watches becomes widespread.
The wristwatch is an adaptation and an invention after the pocket watch. Switching to the wristwatch was the result of a matter of practicality. Its beginnings go back to the early XXV century, being Peter Henlein, who made those pocket watches. The manufacture of these watches was possible thanks to the discovery of the traction spring, which allowed the pendulum to be replaced by the transmission and the steering wheel (at that time, still with a double pendulum) as an element to set the beat. Thanks to this invention, it was possible to reduce the size of the clocks.
In the year 1812, Abraham Louis Breguet built the first wristwatch for Caroline, the younger sister of Napoleon. At the beginning of the 20th century, the use of the wristwatch began to spread, when the ladies began to bring into fashion small pocket watches worn on the wrist. This trend is limited to women, as men continue to wear their traditional pocket watches.
Louis Cartier is one of the first to manufacture wristwatches for men, when his friend, the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, asked him to make a wrist watch in order to make quick measurements and in a practical way during the flights. This translated to the first world war where it was imposed among the military and finally also in civil society, becoming a standard at the end of the war.
The first automatic wristwatch (with a pendulum of inertia) was invented in 1923 by John Harwood. It is the foundation of the mechanisms that are used today in common automatic watches.
The 50s and 60s were the golden years of the mechanical wristwatch. The automatism is still in development, and the designs are improved and complicated, reaching more and more fame and gaining ground to the mechanical watchmaking.
In Basel in 1970, different Swiss watchmaking houses presented their quartz creations. This machinery was, however, better driven by the Japanese firms (Citizen, Seiko and Casio) that introduced them in their series productions, competing with the traditional mechanical clock, and winning the battle in terms of precision and cost. The weight of the watch industry moves to East Asia. The Swiss watch industry is hit hard.
In 1970, Peter Petroff developed the first prototype of a digital wristwatch with LED indicator. The digital indicator at that time could only be consulted for a couple of seconds after pressing a button, due to the high power consumption that it entailed. The first digital wristwatches with LCD dial came onto the market between 1973 and 1975; for example: Timex in E.E.U.U., Mondaine in Switzerland and Seiko and Casio in Japan.