Though mobile technology has taken over pretty much of the typical wristwatch charm, traditional models are still considered a true collector’s item. Though wristwatches today are barely state-of-the-art, design reformations are practiced on old timepieces as number of vintage watch collectors surpass beyond usual.
Reason for this is technology, movement and overall functionality that was one-of-its-kind back then. By 1920, consumer shifted more towards wristwatches that radically descended pocket-watch industry. It’s now obvious that both wrist and pocket-watches are different however we often use the terms interchangeably. According to a survey, ratio was about 50:1 by 1930.
Mechanical wristwatches have undergone many changes during the last 100 years but even these are drawing to a close. Talking about history of mechanical wristwatches, let’s look at a few technological objectives that helped these watches to survive long enough.
Perhaps the most popular obstacle in present times (putting date aside) per function is chronograph. As originally invented by Louis Moinet in 1816, history of chronograph has been rewritten once this fact was discovered. However it wasn’t until another century that the cog integrated within timepieces.
In 1913, first chronograph watch was invented by Longines bearing a sole push-piece (mono-pusher) that’s 29mm in width. Since it has the 13.33Z calibre, accuracy was near to one-fifth of a second. This was the ancestor of Longines watches with 13ZN calibre released in 1936 bearing the first fly-back chronograph.
Those who were interested in Longine’s initial chronograph developed limited edition on its anniversary. It was released at Baselworld 2012 and quite an ingenious reproduced masterpiece. Breitling also crafted the first chronograph wristwatch in 1915 courtesy of Gaston Breitling. He developed a single chronograph push-piece over the crown that controls start, stop and reset functions. This resetting function was perfected in 1932 and placed separately from others.
All of these reformations further paved way for advancement in watch manufacturing industry that we see in chronograph pieces today.
Rolex, in an attempt to bring something new and innovative made their watches dust, water, heat, cold and perspiration free. Company faced many challenges to make their timepieces 100 percent “impermeable” as water and dust usually enters through the crown. Paul Perregaux and Georges Peret; Swiss watchmakers in 1925 tested a new crown locking system. Rolex finally managed to develop a watertight case with modified crown lock system. “Oyster”; in 1926 designed under a British copyright got its name as the watch sealed itself completely.
Another ingenious move made by Rolex was to create self-winding movement that was part of the impermeable watch. “Oyster” case wasn’t 100 percent intact to dust and water as maker forgot to tighten the crown after winding allowing it to enter in smaller amounts. Incorporating self-winding movement solved the problem. Once released, the improvised version of the watch was marketed by English swimmer; Mercedes Gleitze who successfully completed 10 hour swim wearing the piece in 1927.
Omega in 1932 also introduced waterproof watch while doing its best to adhere to infringement rights. Omega Marine was approved by William Beebe, famous for his descent in “Bathysphere” in 1934.
The above features clearly depict something that your mobile phone doesn’t boast and this makes wristwatches to stand their ground even in today’s highly technical environment.