A Brief History of Wrist-Watch Fashion

In today’s modern world, a watch is more than a device just to tell the time, it is a fashion statement – an advertisement of status. In fact watches throughout time have been seen as an accessory relevant to status and class. In a world full of technological advances it’s quite amazing to think that the wrist watch is still relevant, but it is; celebrities from racing drivers to Hollywood actors are often seen to sporting an array of attractive wrist-watch designs. So, here is a brief history of the fashion of the wrist-watch.

100 Years Ago

It is interesting to see that both men and women wear wrist watches today, around 100 years ago, gentleman favoured pocket watches – the gold half-hunter was the most fashionable at the time meaning that you were an upper class individual, in essence it was the Rolex of that time. Interestingly, wrist watches used to be called ‘wristlets’ and were reserved primarily for the use of women. These small, fragile-looking and somewhat dainty watches were often criticised and shunned by a lot of established watch-makers at the time, claiming that the fashion would not last.

19th Century

The attitude towards the wrist watch began to change during the 19th century as the army began to use them regularly. It was much easier for a soldier to check the time with something attached to the wrist rather than fumbling about with a pocket watch – it made it much easier to plan an attack. This is when the leather strapped watch first came about, more for security than any fashion reason.

Later on, watches were considered a war-time necessity; The Rolex Watch Company, founded in 1905, (originally called Wilsdorf & Davis Ltd) experienced high sales during this time and is still an incredibly popular and sought after watch. From this period onwards the popularity of the wristwatch began to grow and evolve, not only as a practical item for men but a fashionable one as well.

1950s Onwards

Jumping ahead a few years the typical mechanical wrist watch had a new competitor; the electronically powered watch, it was first manufactured in 1957. The popularity of the wrist watch was on the rise and it even paid a visit to the moon in the form of an Omega Speedmaster upon Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s arm in 1969. From the 1970s onwards, Watch developers became more and more adventurous in their design and technology creating wrist wear with LED functions and digital faces. The materials used in watch design became more varied and experimental; in 1999 Tag Heuer launched the Kirium T15, a sports watch crafted with grade 5 titanium.

Today and Beyond

With the evolution of technology the watch is in transition into something else completely, take a look at the planned Omate Truesmart – a smart watch with a built in 5 megapixel camera, for more information see the full BBC article. People are passionate about their watches and so they should be, there is an incredible amount of history behind them.

Today there are many different makes and styles of watches to choose from, but Rolex still remains to be one of the most popular and sought after brands, which is why we offer Rolex Watch Repairs at Martins of Glasgow.