The Advent Of The Wristwatch

At the start of the 20th century, despite crises shaking watchmaking, advances continued, and fashions changed. In particular, we see the appearance of the wristwatch, which is now the most worn and best-known of all timepieces. Discover the history of its advent.

The Wristwatch In Its Early Days: An Almost Exclusively Feminine Accessory

Although the wristwatch knew its advent a little over a century ago, it is reported that the first was created in 1812. Following Napoleon’s sister, Caroline Murat, Abraham-Louis Bregue t, a famous watchmaker, made the Queen of Naples measure.

Subsequently, the wristwatch, which is imprecise due to its small size, becomes an accessory reserved for women. It is always in the pocket of the jacket provided for this purpose that men keep their pocket watch. The unpopularity of the wristwatch with men will, however, gradually give way to keen interest.

The Wristwatch: A Tool For Pilots And The Military

It is a period characterized by many wars. The first wristwatches intended for men were not immediately marketed. Soldiers first used them during the Boer War, in particular. Deemed practical, even essential, it saw its reputation evolve very quickly.

In 1904, Louis Cartier and Hans Wilsdorf produced a wristwatch at the request of the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. He found the pocket watch impractical for looking at the time in flight. The model created, marketed shortly after bears the name of the aviator, Santos.

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This is how it first became the favorite timepiece for aviators and pilots, then for most soldiers. During the First World War, wristwatches specifically intended for military use were produced.

At the end of the war, the wristwatch greatly aroused men’s interest, who gradually abandoned the pocket watch to adopt it.

A Period Of Innovation Despite An Unstable Climate

The twentieth century has shown all the colors in watchmaking. Swiss watchmaking, already weakened by American watches, is sometimes overtaken by the competition. The Americans were the first to make a waterproof watch in 1886.

The 1929 stock market crash seriously affected the watch industry. This tremendous economic depression caused the bankruptcy of many small factories. The need to create holding companies, in other words, groups of manufactures, becomes inevitable.

At the same time, in 1928, two Americans, JW Horton and Warren Morrisson finalized the first quartz watch. We will discover the details of this invention and its impact on the watchmaking world in a future post.

Ted Rosenberg
the authorTed Rosenberg
David Rosenberg: A seasoned political journalist, David's blog posts provide insightful commentary on national politics and policy. His extensive knowledge and unbiased reporting make him a valuable contributor to any news outlet.