Watches for Men – The Latest Trends

The story of how the gents watch has become mens favorite item of jewelery and modern display of taste and wealth is an interesting one.

Portable timepieces were available in the 1500s, but their accuracy was very poor, errors were in the order of hours per day, no more than a novelty item for the rich.

Pocket watches arrived in the late 1600s, with a great advance in accuracy occurring in 1657 with the addition of the balance spring to the balance wheel.

The Swiss Dominate Watch production

By the early 1800s the Swiss watchmakers supplied most European watches. Design, material and production methods advanced over the decades. Mass production however only really took off in America in the mid 1850s, starting with the Waltham Watch Company of Waltham, Massachusetts.

USA Wins the Watch War

In the United States development continued, such that by the end of the 1800s it had taken Switzerland’s crown as the biggest world supplier of watches in the mass market. The Swiss response was to concentrate on the smaller quality market.

The Wristwatch for Men Arrives

Prior to this men only had pocket watches. However in 1911 Louis Cartier and master watchmaker Edmund Jaeger produced a wristwatch for sale called the Santos, Cartier’s first production men’s wristwatch. This was to meet the requirements of aviator Alberto Santos Dumont, that of being able to keep both hands on the controls while timing laps.

The same need to keep hands free, yet be able to check the time, for soldiers in the First World War also resulted in a wristwatch. Nothing as elegant as Cartier’s watch, basically a cumbersome pocket watch movement on a wrist strap.

However the change had begun and new smaller designs appeared, such that by 1930 there were 50 times as many wristwatches worn as pocket watches.

Battery (Cell) Power Arrives 1957

The next major advance in wristwatches was the change in power source, from a wound up spring called the mainspring, whose energy was released in a controlled fashion by the escapement, to an electrical power cell. The first watch to use this electrical power cell was made by the Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Early wristwatches used a solenoid, or in a few more expensive models made by Bulova, a solenoid and tuning fork to power the balance wheel, so essentially an electro-mechanical movement.

Quartz Movements in the 60’s

Further advances in electrical watches followed with the Quartz movement in 1960s. With few moving parts it allowed cheap mass-produced movements in the Far East and with greater accuracy than mechanical ones.

The Rise and Fall..and rise of the LED Watch

Watches with LED displays instead of hands followed in 1972 following a prototype seen in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. They were very expensive and you could only see the display by pressing a button, because its power consumption was so high. The “Pulsar LED” made by the Hamilton Watch Company in gold cost over $2000, expensive even now!

In 1975 Texas Instruments produced a mass produced plastic cased LED watch for $20, reduced to $10 by 1976.

Even with this dramatic drop in price, LED production was short lived, due to the introduction of the more efficient LCD technology that allowed a permanent display.

Top Gents Wristwatches Today

In many respects watches have come full circle. LED watches are back in fashion. But modern watches can do so much more for you than tell the time, chronographs, divers watches and sports watches are good examples.

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