How Watches Changed Over Time

Timekeeping has been a preoccupation of humans for more than 4000 years. Although nowadays watches are much more than anyone could imagine and some of them are mostly gadgets, things weren’t like this 50 years ago. In this article we will try to present the timeline of watches development since the beginnings of time telling.

The first known device used for timekeeping was the one developed by the Sumerians which dates to approximately 2000 BC. The Ancient Egyptians also had a way to tell time; one of their ways was a type of water clock but the most used method was to divide the day into 12 hour periods and use the movement of the Sun and obelisks to tell what time it was. In Asia the same water clock was used and other types of clocks that used the movements of the sun. Other types of clocks were: incense clocks and candle clocks.  These clocks were unfortunately not very precise and ineffective in certain weather conditions, especially the Sun movement clock, so in the 10th and 11th century, Asians and Arabs invented different clock mechanisms that used mercury and weights. Also in the 11th century a Chinese astronomer called Su Song managed to develop an astronomical water clock which used a mechanism that was powered by a chain that moved the armillary sphere.

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Later, watches become more and more complex with the development of the spring which was used to power the clock. The development of the spring led to the construction of smaller watches and the manufacturing of wristwatches or pocket watches.

In the 20th century quartz was discovered to be of great use in the watch industry as engineers were able to produce oscillators that were highly accurate and very durable. Contemporary high precision clocks are called atomic clocks which are used to set other clocks and calculate time in different areas in the world based on the Coordinated Universal Time.

Nowadays wristwatches and clocks no longer have the sole purpose of telling time, some of them being just like gadgets and being able to calculate altitude, tell the temperature and even come with incorporated audio or visual recording.