The history of the pocket watch is often overlooked in significance because of the many other inventions that were taking place. However, the pocket watch provided us with the first portable clocks giving us the power to know what time it was wherever we were. The pocket watch was a device that was very rich in the 16th century and only the high class could possess.
In the 16th century clocks were produced using springs instead of weights, signifying the transfer from clocks to watches. These old pocket watches were the first timepieces that could be owned by the public. Owning a pocket watch signified the status, wealth and power of an individual.
The 17th century made pocket watches even more desirable with a new look to the figure. The watch had changed from its original box-like look to a new rounded and slimmer case. Craftsmen began working ever so hard to create designs on every pocket watch made.
In 1675 some watchmakers discovered the importance of a spiral spring. By attaching the spiral spring to the balance, the accuracy of the pocket watch increased greatly. It was now possible to tell time by the minute as oppose to being off by a few hours. With this new discovery, the minute hand was born on the pocket watch.
The 18th century saw added improvement to the pocket watch with further development and more added features to drive up the price. Oil had become a popular method to lubricate and smoothen the movement of the hands of the watch. Jewels had begun to be used for the bearings in watches while diamonds were used on the high-priced watches. This shot the cost up to again give the rich the power to show their wealth and status.
In the middle of the 18th century another hand was introduced to show the increased precision in time. It was only a matter of time that a third hand would be added seeing that we were aware of time down to the second now. This allowed people to know the exact time of day it was through their pocket watch.
The 19th century brought several famous pocket watch makers that increased the value of the watch. Having multiple watchmakers added the competition to the quality of watch they sold, including how much they sold their watches for. The quality of watches sold was now better than ever with much more reasonable prices. The 19th century signified the peak of the old pocket watch.
As time passed further inventions were taking place and the invention of the wristwatch soon took the place of the pocket watch. While some old pocket watches are still around today, the wristwatch is the dominant choice of time now. Today old pocket watches are more of an antique collection than anything. While the pocket watch has served as a useful tool throughout the years, it now rests as solely a collection item that helped lead to the development of the wristwatch.
U:Bee Online is a licensed AAP (Approved Activity Provider) for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Achieve your Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award by completing the Volunteering, Physical, Expedition and Skills Section of your DofE Programme.
Looking for DofE skills section activities? Choose one of the U:Bee Online DofE skills section ideas, to complete your 3 month or 6 month skills section, for your Bronze Award or Silver Award and receive your Certificate and Assessor’s Report.
Find Skills Section Courses at www.ubee.org.uk