The Watch – A Stitch In Time

Girl with watch Girl with watch Most of us wear a watch on day to day basis; whether it is to simply tell the time, as an item of jewelry or for any other use that many of these tiny time tells seem to have now, in fact many of us would feel naked without them. It is hard to put a value on their use – just think how many times you check the time every day – our society is now built around accurate time keeping. So what then did we ever do before their invention, how did we know when to wake up or leave work? Here is a quick history of how our little wrist mounted companion came to be.

Civilizations have been able to accurately measure the passing of time for centuries prior to the invention of the clock. Religious orders were especially good at letting us know what time it was; the local monk or minister would get up first thing in the morning, have a look at the sun dial and when it reached 6 in the morning he’d start chiming the church bells so everyone else in the local area knew what time it was. The reason why he was up so early was because electricity had not yet been invented therefore he had no incentive to stay up late watching TV or surfing the internet, and so this cycle continued until the invention of the clock.

The pocket watch simply developed as a smaller portable version of the clock and during the 19th century as the industrial revolution was in full swing, an ability to tell the time to the minute became a necessity due in part to electric lighting in factories which allowed people to work through the hours of darkness. However up until now upstanding Victorian gentlemen had only ever used pocket watches and at the time viewed dainty wrist watches largely as a female fashion accessory.

It was the military who first saw the true value of a wrist mounted watch and began issuing standard issue time pieces to its officers and men. Prior to this very few soldiers could afford watches and out of those who could, each watch was made differently and bought individually making them prone to variance and inaccuracies. This new capability of having standardized time meant troops could tell to the minute exactly when they were required to attack positions or carry out maneuvers and so helped to avoid further disastrous blunders which even by this point, the British Army in particular had become famous for.

Since then military watches have advanced enormously in terms of their accuracy, durability and design. In fact certain models are so unique that many of them have become highly valued collector’s items and even fashion accessories in their own right. Although don’t worry if the originals are a little out of your price range, there are many retailers that sell accurate replicas for a fraction of the price.

It truly is impossible to tell just where we would be without them; they’ve helped to shape our society as well as to protect it. Perhaps we should take a minute to appreciate the time.

I am an enthusiastic blogger and avid collocetor of timepeices. For more related articles follow me on twitter.