The brief history of timekeeping

The earliest known example of humans measuring the passage of time with the current sexagesimal system (i.e. numeral system with sixty as base) dates back to about 2000 BC in Sumer. The people of Egypt divided the day into two cycles of 12 hours, and measured the time using sundials, which measured changes in shadow position over time during the day and water clocks during the night. Later, the ancient Greeks started measuring time using the clepsydrae (time-measuring device worked by a flow of water). Romans, as early as 500 BCE, carried small sundials as jewelry.The mechanical clock was invented in Europe around 1300 CE, and portable miniature clocks soon followed.

The pocket watch started to become popular during the Tudor times in 16th century. The pocket watches, during their introduction phase, had only one hand showing the hours of the day. The minute hand came into existence and started being used in 17th century. Ever since then, watchmakers have competed to produce smaller and smaller watches that could be easily carried by an individual. In 1518, FrançoisI spent a fortune for two watches to be set in daggers. A German clockmaker, Peter Heinlein, started experimenting with spring-powered clocks in the early 16th century. After he finally succeeded in reducing the size of these springs, he was able to create the very first modern watch. There wouldn’t be any Rolex watches if he hadn’t invented the mainspring.Image result for The brief history of timekeeping

The first wristwatch with an alarm function was produced by Swiss watchmaker named Eterna in 1908, but didn’t start full-scale production until 1914.At first, wristwatches were only intended for women while men used the pocket watch. For men, wearing a watch – or keeping a pocket watch in your waistcoat – has always been a big part of fashion since the early 1600s. It was King Charles II, who popularized the wearing of pocket watches, and that trend has trickled down through history.

Modern wristwatches did not become popular until during the First World War. It was after then that it started to be used by men.Soldiers wore watches around their wrists because it granted them more freedom of movement.Louis Cartier accompanied his pilot friend Alberto Santos-Dumont on a number of flights to experiment with the utilization of aircraft in the time leading up to World War I. And that’s when he saw that his friend struggled to measure time while keeping both hands on the controls of his plane.It inspired him on his endeavors to create the first “aviator” wristwatch – complete with leather band and small clasp. Today, both have become mainstay elements of the modern day “aviator”.The pocket watch was incredibly popular throughout the 1800s all the way up to the 1930s, and was really only killed off during World War II where military men were not allowed to use anything but a wristwatch – all in an effort to keep them safe, keep them focused, and keep both hands on their weapon.This was the nail in the pocket watch’s coffin, and it has neverrecovered.

Rolex made the first precision wristwatch developed for use undersea when it introduced its Submariner watch. Sir Edmund Hillary once famously wore a Rolex watch during the British Himalaya Expedition in 1953 which made him the first to reach the peaks of Mount Everest. In 1960, the United States Navy sent a submarine down 35,798 feet below the sea level. A Rolex watch was attached to the outside of the vessel and survived intact, without losing accuracy by even a second.

So do you know what time it is?