Style of the Times: Timepieces Over the Decades

Ever since Peter Henlein arguably created the first watch in the 15th century, the process of making watches has fascinated many people. The first watches that were created were mainly ornamental pieces as they kept very inaccurate time. It was not until the start of the 20th century when American railroad masters demanded accurate timepieces that the industry started making advancements in wristwatches. From the turn of the century through the 1980s, more advances were made in watches than at any other time.


Most men used pocket watches in 1900s to keep track of the time. As the American Industrial Revolution took hold, manufacturers figured out how to take pocket watches and put them on bands by simply attaching steel lugs on the ends of the most popular models. Soon, however, the first mechanical wristwatches were being created because the thousands of tiny pieces required to make a watch could easily be made in American factories.


As the Art Deco movement took hold in America, many people started to wear fashion jewelry. Unlike previous times, wristwatches were coming into their own with intricate styles based on simple geometric shapes like squares and rectangles. The industry was also progressing with the development of the first water-resistant watches and the first self-winding mechanical watches.


As the World Wars ravaged, watches from the 1940s and 1950s were often made with steel components for servicemen who proudly wore their watches home after the battles. While the beginning of the 20th century had seen most watches made in America with Swiss makers going out of vogue, the wars allowed Switzerland to gain new footing because they were able to stay neutral throughout the wars making watches for both sides. The accuracy of timepieces greatly increased during these two decades.


The quartz crisis raised its ugly head during the 1960s, as Switzerland manufacturers could not keep up with the accuracy of a quartz watch and refused to reform their manufacturing techniques. Discriminating buyers started buying battery-powered quartz watches as a fashion statement.


As the world rolled into the luxury of the 1980s with everyone making a lot of money, mechanical watches were once again popular as a luxury item. Most buyers had a quartz watch that they wore everyday. The amount of available wealth also gave rise to the hobby of collecting mechanical watches.

Today, a watch is a luxury item because most people rely on their smartphones to give them the time. These watches with elaborate details are a fun way to add beauty to almost any outfit.

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