Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wristwatches: History & Evolution (part 3)

The wristwatch is the appropriate timepiece for an age typified by big business and bureaucracy, rationalisation and striving to achieve, working hours and planned free time. The wristwatch is now more than just a practical timepiece. It has become a representative of our way of life. In the present, we are experiencing the last stage of this development: the perplexity with which many wearers of quartz wristwatches react second with the time announcements on television.

The wristwatch probably first proved itself as a practical military implement in the Boer War (1899-1902) and this experience later had a positive effect on the civilian market in England.

The wristwatch gained worldwide use in World War I when soldiers on both sides quickly realised that the conditions of modern warfare no longer allowed one to unbutton overcoat and uniform jacket whenever it was necessary to look at one's watch. In the first months of the War, it was reported that "not only officers, but troops in general customarily wore their watch on their left wrist".

The number of new watchbands coming onto the market increased from day to day, according to a German journal.

Names like Army (Geneva), Poilu (as French soldiers in the war were called, Paris) and Mars (Cologne) for special watch-band clasps point in the same direction. For the US army, Cartier developed a wristwatch called Tank.

There could not have been better conditions for spreading the use of the wristwatch than this war. But the first significant success of the wristwatch was not gained among men, but among women, first as an ornament whereby until 1900, the dial, as with its predecessors around 1800, was set so that its 6-12 axis ran at right angle to the band.

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