Our top 5 most interesting facts about watches

1. The wristwatch was developed subsequent to the pocket watch

Necessity is the mother of invention and it was hard times that necessitated the development of the everyday wrist watch from the pocket watch. Most historians agree that the pocket watch became a piece to be worn on the wrist either just before or during the First World War. Under difficult circumstances such as trench movement, fighting, and piloting aircraft it was impractical to check the time by reaching into one’s pocket. Instead soldiers and pilots would strap their watches to their wrists with the addition of lugs to hold the straps. This was ultimately embraced and the wristwatch became part of everyday fashion as we know today.


2. Early wristwatches were primarily for women and the wealthy

Prior to the wristwatch being accepted as everyday wear they were originally designed as jewellery for the nobility where accuracy of time measurement was not important, nor possible with poor mechanisms of the time, and the addition of a watch to a bracelet, especially for women, was seen simply as a novelty and a display of wealth.


3. Wristwatches vary in complexity

In a bid to outdo their competitors, watch manufacturers strive to improve and add levels of complexity to their watches not seen in other brands. This means that a watch or timepiece can carry anywhere from 130 components in the most simple of watches, up to several hundreds. Indeed perhaps the most complicated watch ever created, the Patek Philippe Calibre 89, contains a whopping 1728 parts.


4. Complications

In addition to adding parts to the movement of their watches, manufacturers also add features not strictly used in telling the time. These extra mechanisms are known as complications and can add another layer of complexity and beauty to a watch. Simple complications include a day/night indicator and a stopwatch. An example of a more complex complication, and my favourite, is the tourbillon (pictured above) – a rotating cage and balance wheel designed to mitigate the effects of gravity on the escape mechanism of a mechanical watch and thus reduce the amount of time lost or gained due to gravity throughout the day.


5. Wristwatches lose and gain time over the day

Interestingly, no wristwatch is 100% accurate as all will lose or gain time due to minor variations in the underlying mechanism, be it mechanical, quartz, or smartwatch processor. Mechanical watches are the most prone to losing or gaining time due to the effects of gravity and temperature on the moving parts. It is not uncommon for a mechanical watch to lose or gain 5 seconds per day, but that still maintains a 99.994% accuracy! The most accurate mechanical watches are known as chronometers – watches specifically designed, tested, and certified for accuracy.


That's it folks! Our top 5 most interesting facts about watches. What's your favourite watch fact? Please leave us a comment below!