The watch continues to be one of the most diverse accessories in the world. Since the advent of the first pocket watch, half a millennium ago, the watch has cut across science and history and its popularity has stood the test of time. Sales have even soared in the past few years. These days, brands continue to miniaturize technology for wristwatches, producing digital watches that have thermometers, translators and even televisions built in and with the introduction of the Apple Watch Smartwatch in 2015, brands such as Samsung and Motorola have brought innovative timekeeping technology to the online-crazy generation. People seldom require watches to tell the time. Our smartphones now tell time accurately and wearing a watch has become a choice as opposed to being a necessity.
This prompts the question: “what could drive someone to wear a watch?”
Trend watchers may think that wristwatches are going out of style and are banished to the abyss of history by advanced technology. Who needs a wristwatch when our smartphones and even some of the most basic cell phones tell us time with consistent accuracy?
Are watchmakers finding new ways to keep people buying and wearing watches on their wrists or are they allowing it to become another piece of historic curiosity like eight-track tape players and telephone booths. The fate of the wristwatch may lie in the reasons why we don them in the first place. These reasons may be more or less the same as today as they were in the 20th century when watches gained prominence. What then drives people to wear watches?
Time, they say is of the essence. We are worked up when we are behind time, stressed out and worked up. Time is money. Time is such an important part of our lives and it is hard to come to grips with the fact that it was not until the 19 century that people began to think much about time. Time was marked by changing seasons and the different altitudes of the sun in the sky, for much of human history. People developed natural cues to keep track of all that they needed to do. The earliest timekeepers were sundials, water clocks, hourglasses and cumbersome mechanical clocks with weights, levers, springs and bells. Pendulum clocks developed in the 17th century and were more accurate but they were bulky and did not inspire people to wear timepieces.
The development of coiled springs to move the hand made it possible to male clocks smaller. Early watches had only hour hands. Those that were made small enough were termed watches. Watches manufactured in the 1500s were cumbersome and heavy. Some were worn n the belt, around the waist and later as pendants. Soon, pocket watches were in vogue. The industrial revolution brought interchangeable parts and mass production of cheaper clocks. Timepieces became available to ordinary people who needed them more as society evolved. Simultaneously, houses that made expensive, finely-crafted watches began to emerge. 19th and early 20th century, less-expensive wristwatches gained popularity among women due to mass production. In contrast, men preferred pocket watches and considered wristwatches ladylike because they impede men’s work.
Swiss watchmaker Patek Phillipe is widely accepted as the first wristwatch maker who made it in 1868. Although some sources credit Pierre Jaquet-Droz as the first to make a wristwatch adorned on the wrist. Patek Phillipe watches were initially for women and were considered as much jewelry for wealthy women as accurate timepieces. In the late, The 20th century dawned the golden era of the wristwatch as many people had multiple watches for different activities like sports and leisure, business and high-fashion, expensive styles for dress. However, early in the 21st century, growing technology began to threaten wristwatches and even some observers started writing obituaries for wristwatches.
By early 2012, the drawbacks that saw men abandon pocket watches a century ago began to suffice again because some people found it inconvenient to always consult a phone to check the time. It is considered inappropriate to pull out a phone at meetings, churches and academic activities like lessons and examinations. It is easier to subtly check a wristwatch.
Watches are now back in style, watchmakers and retailers have successfully revived the craze for modern accessories especially among millennials. Watches have a vintage appeal, evoking memories of childhood or relatives. Wristwatches are antiques and are worthy collectibles. In an age of high-tech mechatronics, people who cherish old-fashioned, high-quality watches. Although cell phones are smarter and offer more functions such as calendars, calculators and stopwatches, some people are attracted by the simple-looking watch for fashion or ornamental value. Let’s not forget that watches started out as jewelry than a timepiece.
Some watchmakers are competing with smartphones by making smart wristwatches. Some watches have GPS for positioning and navigation. Others have the technology to synchronize with smartphones and let a person get notified with a glance at the wrist when messages and calls arrive. We are certain of one thing: The demise of wristwatches are greatly exaggerated and are merely rumors.