Thought you may like an update to History of the Wristwatch - At arms Length. Update #2
As far as is known, humans first began to measure time between the 10th and 8th century before the birth of Christ. The now 24 hours split themselves into three natural divisions; from dawn till noon (the highest point of the sun), from noon till dusk and the hours of darkness. So our clock of those days, some 2020 years ago, used the sun as its time measurement; in fact a sundial. This dial, the earliest of which we have evidence is Egyptian, now in the Berlin museum, dates to approximately the 9th century B.C. If we accept that the pocket watch reached the ‘mass market’ in 1840, we see that it took mechanical timepieces as we accept today some 1,800 years to develop.
My goal is to clearly present ‘The History of the Wristwatch’ from its inception in 1900 to present time 2013. I want to depict that although it took some 1,800 years to develop from a sundial to the mass produced and accepted pocket watch, it only took some (albeit difficult periods) 90 years for the wristwatch to overtake the pocket watch and become the accepted timepiece by 1930.
My idea is to show a small sundial, then 1800 years to a pocket watch, then 90 years to the acceptance of the wristwatch (a Rolex Oyster).
Periods Covered by the exhibit will include:
1900 – Beginning of the Wristwatch
Starting with the 1899-1902 Boer War we see officers wearing “wristlets”, leather bands that held pocket watches. We also have earlier evidence that the future President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1898 fought in Cuba against Spain, also wore these wristlets. Yet after that military campaign, while Roosevelt was campaigning to be the 25th President, he is quoted as saying “a wristwatch is for a cowboy, hunter or soldier. But NOT for a politician or President.”
1910-1920 – “Trench Watches” or WWI
Here I will show examples of early wristwatches with wire lugs, enamel dial, shrapnel guards, center sweep seconds, etc. I will support this graphically with ephemera of USA WWI soldiers (so called “Doughboys”) – I have a number of great photographs and newspaper articles to include in the exhibit.
Also from 1910-20 we have the “Hermetic” watches period.
Starting with Borgel Cases (1910), through the Gruen/Jean Finger cases 1918/21 to the famous and ‘final’ Rolex “Oyster.” The Museum has an outstanding Elgin 1916 Depollier cases WWI trench watch, in addition to a lovely Rolex with sealed case and shrapnel guard.
I need other hermetics based on Jean Finger Design or 2nd generation Borgel. I will support this graphically with ephemera like the 1919 Gruen advertisement showing the Jean Finger 'style' hermetic case - but unless I donate a piece the Museum does not have one.
1930 – Beginning of the Automatic.
Automatics, of course we start with a Harwood (I will probably use two to show both face and movement); the Museum also has a 1932 Frey Perpetual. More modern, I know we have a Jaeger-Le Coultre and Breitling. Main aim here will be to show early automatic, “bumper” movement, “rotary” movement, “micro” rotor – “bidynator.”
Also 1930s – Art Deco Period Roaring 20s and 30s
I want to show the fantastic 'formed' watches of the 1920s/1930s - Those fantastic Art Deco pieces (I remember a lovely Gallet ladies piece). There is also a fantastic Art Deco 'exploding numbers dial' I must use. The Museum has a number of great examples from Gruen as well.
1940s/50 - 'Multi-Complication' timepieces.
We have a number of pieces including Gallet, Benrus, Mido and Movado. The best piece I will use of the Museum’s is a Comor Index Mobile - Rattrapante! It’s fantastic! These will cover 40s/50s/60s and 70s
1980s – The Demise of the Swiss and the Americans and the Development of the Quartz.
Museum has examples from Hamilton, Elgin, Gruen and others, not sure (from memory) what Swiss manufacturers’ quartz they have – hopefully a Rolex Cellina. I will depict that the Swiss and the Americans competed in the analogue quartz arena. Actually quartz survived, where the Americans and Swiss got it wrong is they believed in ‘digital’ wristwatches – that failed! Quartz survived. In 2012 a total of 995 million wristwatches were produced; 78% quartz analog, 19% digital, and a fraction 3% mechanical.
And out of that 995 million pieces – Japan produced 590 million of them. So we must show Japanese timepieces like Seiko, Casio and Citizen – will Hamilton help? In 2012 the Swiss produced just under 7 million units or 0.70%, but in value was number one at $23 billion! As Mr. Hayek, Senior once said “It is easier to sell one watch at $1million, than sell 1 million pieces at a dollar.”
1990 to 2012 - Size Matters
Showing here modern (mainly quartz) pieces and the explosion in size compared to watches from 1910s and 1920s. We have some cool modern pieces from Hamilton, Citizen, Yes and others.
2013 – Being Donated by Swatch Group
SWATCH – System 51. First mechanical Automatic from SWATCH – 51 pcs. Price $150
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