History of Watches Timeline

The first watch was invented In 1275 by England. Peter Heinlein is considered the inventor of the world’s first watch. In the 15th century, he created a clock watch. Apart from that, the history of watches’ timeline started in the 16th century.

From the 16th century to the mid-20th century, inventors and engineers developed mechanical devices. Day by day, this automatic device transformed into different designs and shapes. People started using the watch on hand like pendants, and it is called wristwatches.

There are many types of watches from the beginning to today’s date –

  • Clock-watch
  • Pocketwatch
  • Wristwatch
  • Electric watch
  • Quartz watch
  • Smartwatch

Timeline of Watches Evolution Throughout The Centuries

In the early years, people did not always like to wear wristwatches on the wrist. They used to carry wristwatches in their pocket or attach them to a chain. Today there are different types of wristwatches with various styles. The kind of watch changes over time.

Today it’s common for people to wear a watch, but it’s not the same story around 100 years ago. The Watches evolved from big mechanical to small. Now they are not just useful tools; they become a fashion. Let’s take a look back at the history of watches and how they evolved with the years-

  • 1275- The first mechanical watch was invented in England
  • 1300- Three mechanical watches were built in Italy in the early 1300s. The first one was an astronomical clock, the 2nd one rang a bell every hour, and therefore the 3rd followed the hours, sunrise, and days of the month
  • One of the oldest watches, which was completed in 1386, was found at Salisbury Cathedral. This watch shows the time by striking the hours.
  • 1504-1508- Some people believe that Peter Henlein creates the first pocket watch. Though this invention is disputed by many scholars, saying that his fame brought him into the history book
  • 1541-A famous religious figure John Calvin banned people from wearing jewelry in Switzerland. The jewelers of Geneva had to learn another craft, which was watchmaking, and then the wristwatch industry was born
  • 1574- The first known pocket watch was invented this year, but it is unknown who developed this. The watch was made in bronze and the front depicts Saint George slaying a dragon and a crucifixion on the back
  • 1656- Christian Huygens patented the first pendulum clock
  • 1675- Charles of England introduced the waistcoat, which design is renovated as pocket watches
  • 1680- By this time, watches became more accurate, and a minute hand was added to the dial. In 1680 the minute hand was introduced in Britain and in 1700 in France
  • 1759- Thomas Mudge invented the LEVER ESCAPEMENT, and John Harrison created the Marine Chronometer
  • 1770- Abraham- Louis Perrelet developed the first self-winding mechanism
  • 1812-  The first wristwatch was invented. Breguet created the wristwatch to fit the wrist of the Queen of Nepal
  • 1820- For using the key for winding or setting, The keyless clock emerged
  • 1868- Patek Philippe made the first wristwatch. He developed the split-second hands, the perpetual calendar, the chronograph, and minute repeaters in watches. Stylish women used these watches as a form of jewelry
  • 1891- Francois Borgel from Geneva patented a waterproof watch
  • 1904- Brazilian aviator Alberto Dumont asked his friend Louis Cartier to make an alternative. Luis Cartier and his master watchmaker, Edmond Jaeger, came up with Santos’s first wristwatch
  • 1914-1918- During the first world war, trench watches were developed for soldiers. The trench watch was large and bulky because they made it with pocket watch movement. After the War by the 1930s pocket watch was entirely out of fashion
  • 1930- The first stopwatch was patented by the Breitling watch company
  • 1955-   Dr. Essen of the National Physical Laboratory invented the first Caesium atomic clock. This clock keeps accurate time to within a few seconds every 100,000 years
  • 1957- The first electric watch was successfully invented by America’s Hamilton watch company
  • 1962- The originator of scratch-proof watches known as Rado was released
  • 1969-  The invention of the quartz watch was a revolutionary improvement. Seiko introduced the first quartz analog wristwatch
  • 1979- The Delirium introduced the thinnest watch (measuring 1.98 mm) in the world
  • 1980- Seiko started to develop watches with computing ability
  • 1983- Swatch introduced the first plastic Swiss Quartz watch to the world
  • 1999- Watches company used titanium and carbon fiber in their case designs. Omega first used the George Daniels co-axial escapement in producing watches
  • 2000- Smartwatches made with more high-tech materials like ceramic and silicon
  • 2016- Razer introduced the Nabu watch combined with time-telling and health tracker
  • 2017- Apple released the 3rd generation Apple watch. This watch has many functions like a heart monitor, an altimeter

Brief History

From many analyses, researchers thought that the word “watch” came from the old English word “woecce,” which meant watchman. 

Before we start to talk about the types of watches and their invention, we should go over the history of timekeeping devices used over time. Around a thousand years ago, people started timekeeping. In ancient times, people used primitive sundials by obtaining shadow casts by a pointer to determine the time.

For a long time, watches have been around. But today’s watches are not what they used to be. Present-day with high-technology watches, it’s interesting to look back on the history of watches timeline and understand where watches came from in the first place.

When watches were invented, they were basic, and they were only capable of ringing a bell every hour. Inventors and engineers worked for hundreds of years, and they were finally able to make mechanical watches. they experiment with metal; they used silver, brass, and bronze 

Below, we will go over the history of watches and the types of watches.

Different Types of Watches in History

Clock Watches 

The clock watch was the first timepiece was worn. It was the first ornamental timepiece worn in the body as pendants. Peter Henlein is credited as the inventor of the Clock watch. He is one of the early clockmakers who invented clock watches.

People used to wear clock watches on a chain around the neck. These watches were cylindrical brass boxes with drum shapes. The surface of these watches was not covered with glass. 

These clock watches were made as jewelry, and people used the clock watch as jewelry for their excellent ornamentation. It has an unusual shape, and the accuracy was so low. These watches were considered practically useless because there were so many errors several hours per day.

Pocket Watches

In the late 16th century, inventors and engineers started to produce pocket watches. When the first pocket watch was made, it only showed the hour. In 1680, the minute dials were added to the pocket watch. The appearance of the first, and second hand evolved after ten years. For a certain period, people did not use it in general. 

In the 17th century, people started to wear watches in pockets instead of using old pendant shapes. It is said that the changes occurred in 1675 after Charles || introduced the waistcoats.

The pendant’s shape of the watch evolved into a pocket watch to fit it in the pocket. The shape was flattered and rounded to avoid sharp edges. It was also covered with glass in 1610 to protect the hands from harm.

Wrist Watch 

Primarily wristwatches were worn by wealthy women as a part of fashion. Until the early 20th century, men generally used pocket watches. In the beginning, wristwatches first worn by military men became a trend for military men at that time. After World War I, people’s perspectives towards men’s wristwatches dramatically changed, and wristwatches became more popular.

Mass production

In the 19th century, inventors developed their own systems. They duplicate machinery and tools with the upgrades in technology. From about 1860, keyless winding replaced key winding, and this is where the pocket watch was wound by turning the crown. The first Mass production started in Massachusetts and Connecticut, United States. In 1876, Georges Frederic Roskopf invented a cheaper version of the lever escapement, and they used these materials for the mass production of pocket watches, and for the first time, watches were available to ordinary people. Other cheap watches used a simple version of the duplex escapement, which was developed by Daniel Buck in the 1870s.

The History of Wrist Watches

In 1812, the first wristwatch was invented for the Queen of Naples. They were introduced in the 1570s, but they were known as the arm brace.

Some believe that Abraham Louis-Breguet invented the first wristwatch in 1810. The history of the wristwatch timeline evolved in the 17th century. The first watches in the world were mechanical, and day by day, these watches formed into different qualities and shapes.

In 1916, the new york times published an article admitting the wristwatch fashion trend. At that time, people started to wear watches with their bracelets. And pocket watches began to fall out of fashion. 

In 1880, Constant Girard decided to mass-produce two thousand wristwatches for German Naval Officers for their outfit.v1892 Omega introduced their first wristwatch.

In 1908, Hans Wilsdorf created the Rolex brand, and In 1913 Seiko invented the first wristwatch. Omega produced Seamaster and Speedmaster wristwatches in 1957. In 1965 the omega speed master became the official watch of NASA. 

In 1923, John Harwood successfully invented the first self-winding system. The first wristwatch traveled to space in 1961 in Russia. 1969 Seiko started mass producing their quartz movement electric watch. In 1970 the first digital wristwatch was developed.

Automatic Watch

Until 1770, all watches needed manual winding of the crown. The Swiss watchmaker Abraham Louis Perrelet invented the first self-winding watch, and His invention was a milestone in watch history. A self-winding watch is also called an automatic watch. In 1780 people started to wear automatic watches, but these watches were not popular. The manufacturers used advanced technology to refine and revive the automatic watch movement.

Quartz watch

About half a century ago, a watch was produced that was run on battery. In 1969 Seiko and Epson developed and introduced the first quartz watch., The first quartz watch 35 S.Q. Astron, made by Seiko, was the world’s first accurate wristwatch. The quartz watch was a revolutionary invention in watch technology. 

Mechanical watch

In the late 13th century, the first mechanical watches were invented. The first mechanical watchtower was built in 1335 in Italy. Mechanical watches changed the common practice of time measuring. In the 17th century, the mechanical watch evolved from spring-powered clocks in Europe. A mechanical watch uses a clockwork mechanism to measure the path of time, and it is pushed with the aid of utilizing a mainspring.


A smartwatch is a computer that is worn on the wrist. A smartwatch is a digital device with many cell phone capacities, a music player, and a digital assistant. Linux watch was the first Smartwatch, which was developed in 1998 by Steve Mann. Technology is advancing day by day, and now many companies created Smartwatches, and these watches are trendy among people.

Some Key Moments in Watchmaking History

  • The sundial is invented in 3,500 B.C.
  • In 1914, radioactive radium paint was used in the watch to glow in the dark; later, manufacturers realized it was not suitable for humans then it was replaced by zinc sulfide and strontium aluminate
  • In 1917, Louis Carter invented a signature tank watch
  • In 1926, the first water resistance watch Rolex Oyster was developed
  • In 1936, IWC Schaffhausen made its first pilots watch
  •  In 1970, Hamilton released the first digital watch name Pulser
  • 1980, Casio released the iconic C-90 calculator watch
  • 2012 before introduced the pebbles smart become sold out 
  • In 2014, The first self-contained atomic clock name Bathys Hawaii Cesium 133 released
  • In 2015, Apple introduced the iWatch; later, it became the Apple watch


People had always been fascinated with observing the time. With the increased availability of technology and the globalization of the marketplace, there are many talented designers and watchmakers. Thanks to them, they developed high-quality watches with a variety of styles and prices. From tactical watches to luxury yachting watches. There are a wide variety of styles available if you are looking for a watch. The inheritance of the wristwatch continues, and nowadays they are an essential part of everyday life.

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