watch is a small portable clock that displays
the current time and sometimes the current day,
date, month and year. In modern times they are
usually worn on the wrist, although before the
20th century most were pocket watches, which had
covers and were carried separately, often in a
pocket, and hooked to a watch chain.
Current watches are often digital
watches, using a piezoelectric crystal, usually
quartz, as an oscillator (see quartz clock).
In earlier times mechanical timepieces were used, powered by a spring wound regularly by the user. The invention of "Automatic" or "Self-Winding" watches allowed for a constant winding without special action from the wearer: it works by an irregular weight, called a winding rotor, that rotates to the movement of the wearer's body, automatically winding the watch.
Watches may be collectible; they are often made of precious metals, and can be considered an article of jewelry.
Types Of Watch
The first necessity for portability
in time keeping was navigation and mapping in
the 15th century. The latitude could be measured
by looking at the stars, but the only way a ship
could measure its longitude was by comparing timezones;
by comparing the midday time of the local longitude
to a European meridian (usually Paris or Greenwich),
a sailor could know how far he was from home.
However, the process was notoriously unreliable
until the introduction of John Harrison's chronometer.
For that reason, most maps from the 15th century
to c.1800 have precise latitudes but distorted
The first mechanical clocks measured
time with weighted pendulums, which are useless
at sea or in watches. The invention of a spring
mechanism was crucial for portable clocks. In
Tudor England, the development of "pocket-clockes"
was enabled through the development of reliable
springs and escapement mechanisms, which allowed
clockmakers to compress a timekeeping device into
a small, portable compartment. It is rumoured
that Henry VIII (the portrait of Henry VIII at
this link shows the medallion thought to be the
back of his watch) had a pocket clock which he
kept on a chain around his neck. However, these
watches only had an hour hand - a minute hand
would have been useless considering the inaccuracy
of the watch mechanism. Eventually, miniaturization
of these spring-based designs allowed for accurate
portable timepieces which worked well even at
sea. Aaron Lufkin Dennison founded Waltham Watch
Company in 1850, which was the pioneer of the
industrial manufacturing by interchangeable parts,
the American System of Watch Manufacturing.
Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant,
a typical pilot watch. Quantum on hand, day of
the week, month, sliding rule, chronograph certified.The
wristwatch was invented by Patek Philippe at the
end of the 19th century. It was however considered
a woman's accessory. It was not until the beginning
of the 20th century that the Brazilian inventor
Alberto Santos-Dumont, who had difficulty checking
the time while in his first aircraft (Dumont was
working on the invention of the aeroplane), asked
his friend Louis Cartier for a watch he could
use more easily. Cartier gave him a leather-band
wristwatch from which Dumont never separated.
Being a popular figure in Paris, Cartier was soon
able to sell these watches to other men. During
the First World War, officers in all armies soon
discovered that in battlefield situations, quickly
glancing at a watch on their wrist was far more
convenient than fumbling in their jacket pockets
for an old-fashioned pocket watch. In addition,
as increasing numbers of officers were killed
in the early stages of the war, NCOs promoted
to replace them often did not have pocket watches
(traditionally a middle-class item out of the
reach of ordinary working-class soldiers), and
so relied on the army to provide them with timekeepers.
As the scale of battles increased, artillery and
infantry officers were required to synchronise
watches in order to conduct attacks at precise
moments, whilst artillery officers were in need
of a large number of accurate timekeepers for
rangefinding and gunnery. Army contractors began
to issue reliable, cheap, mass-produced wristwatches
which were ideal for these purposes. When the
war ended, demobilised European and American officers
were allowed to keep their wristwatches, helping
to popularise the items amongst middle-class Western
civilian culture. Today, nearly every Westerner
wears a watch on his wrist, a direct result of
the First World War.
A complicated watch has one or
more functionalities beyond basic time-keeping
capabilities; such a functionality is called a
complication. Two popular complications are the
chronograph complication, which is the ability
of the watch movement to function as a stopwatch,
and the moonphase complication, which is a display
of the lunar phase. Among watch enthusiasts, complicated
watches are especially collectible.
Chronographs And Chronometers
The similar-sounding terms chronograph
and chronometer are often confused, although they
mean altogether different things. A chronograph
is a type of complication, as explained under
the heading "Complicated Watch." A chronometer
is a watch or clock whose movement has been tested
and certified to operate within a certain standard
of accuracy. The concepts are different but not
mutually exclusive; a watch can be a chronograph,
a chronometer, both, or neither.
The first use of electrical power
in watches was as a source of energy to replace
the mainspring, and therefore to remove the need
for winding. The first battery-powered watch,
the Hamilton Electric 500, was released in 1957
by the Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Quartz Analogue watch
The quartz analogue watch is an electronic watch that uses a piezoelectric quartz crystal as its timing element, coupled to a mechanical movement that drives the hands. The first prototypes were made by the CEH research laboratory in Switzerland in 1962. The first quartz watch to enter production was the Seiko 35 SQ Astron, which appeared in 1969. There are also several variations of the quartz watch as to what actually powers the movement. There are solar powered, kinetically powered, and battery powered. Solar powered quartz watches are powered by available light. Kinetic powered quartz watches are powered by the motion of the wearer's arm turning a rotating weight, which in turn, turns a generator to supply power. The third and most common power source is the battery. Watch batteries come in many forms, the most common of which are silver oxide and lithium.
Cheaper electronics permitted
the popularisation of the digital watch (an electronic
watch with a numerical, rather than analogue,
display) in the second half of the 20th century.
They were seen as the great new thing. Douglas
Adams, in the introduction of his novel The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy, would say that humans were
'so amazingly primitive that they still think
digital watches are a pretty neat idea'.
The first digital watch, a Pulsar prototype in 1970, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data. A retail version of the Pulsar was put on sale in 1972 It had a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays were soon superseded by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which used less battery power. The first LCD watch with a six-digit LCD was the 1973 Seiko 06LC, although various forms of early LCD watches with a four-digit display were marketed as early as 1972 including the 1972 Gruen Teletime LCD Watch.
In addition to the function of a timepiece, digital watches can have additional functions like a chronograph, calculator, video game etc.
Digital watches have not replaced analog watches, despite their greater reliability and lower cost. In fact, because digital watches are so cheap, analog watches are often worn as status symbols. For others, analog watches are just easier to read.
At the end of the 20th century, Swiss watch makers were seeing their sales go down as analog clocks were considered obsolete. They joined forces with designers from many countries to reinvent the Swiss watch.
The result was that they could considerably reduce the pieces and production time of an analog watch. In fact it was so cheap that if a watch broke it would be cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one than to repair it. They founded the Swiss Watch company (Swatch) and called graphic designers to redesign a new annual collection.
This is often used as a case study in design schools to demonstrate the commercial potential of industrial and graphic design.
As miniaturized electronics become cheaper, more and more functionalities have been inserted into watches. Watches have been developed containing calculators, video games, digital cameras, keydrives, and cellular phones. In the early 1980s Seiko marketed a watch with a television receiver in it, although at the time television receivers were too bulky to fit in a wristwatch, and the actual receiver and its power source were in a book-sized box with a cable that ran to the wristwatch. In the early 2000's, a self-contained wristwatch television receiver came on the market, with a strong enough power source to provide one hour of viewing.
Several companies have attempted to develop a computer contained in a WristWatch, including an IBM product that ran Linux and a Fossil product that ran PalmOS (see also wearable computer). As of 2004, the only programmable computer watch to have made it to market is the Seiko Ruputer, although many digital watches come with extremely sophisticated data management software built in.
A recent development is the radio controlled wristwatch or as they are sometimes called "atomic watches". These wristwatches receive a radio signal from the National Institute of Standards and Technology located in Colorado in the United States. This radio signal tells the radio wristwatch exactly what time it is, precise to a fraction of a nanosecond. About 4 times per day a radio wristwatch will check this radio signal and reset itself to the exact time. It will also reset itself when daylight savings time changes. These watches always know what time it is.