Like the gems used in their creation, jewellery is a fascinating and multifaceted field. One of the lesser known professions in the industry is horologist. Today, we’re going to talk about what horology is.
What Is Horology?
Horology is the study of watches and clocks and other items. It’s also the study of time, which in a way, is as old as humanity itself.
The word horology is derived from the Greek “horos” meaning hour and the Latin word “wrist” meaning hand.
We’ve been studying time for millennia. Inventions like the windup watch, the clock, and the hourglass helped the average person keep track of time and were the culmination of thousands of years of progress.
What Does A Horologist Do?
Firstly, horologists collect watches, clocks, and other timekeeping pieces.
They also make them. Horologists have a passion for watches and they are by turn artists and craftsmen. Their job requires knowledge, skill, and practice.
They have an eye for classic, historical pieces as well. They know what a watch is made of, where it comes from, and who created it.
They maintain the intricate mechanisms inside our watches, clocks, and timepieces. They also repair and restore antique timepieces.
There are many horological professions, but the most common ones are watchmakers, clockmakers, clock repairmen, and watch repairmen.
Horology History And Notable Personages
The history of horology is a long story, but some of the milestones that will make it to this list include the invention of the first horological clock by the Chinese, in 987 A.D., and the discovery of the use of the pendulum in clocks by Galileo in 1582 A.D.
The earliest horologers used mechanical clocks, which were the first ever made. They were invented in 12th-century Europe and by the 13th century were common. These clocks were mostly used as church clocks for churches, palaces, and castles.
Horology became more popular during the Renaissance and started becoming a part of everyday life. At this point, horologists used mechanical watches, which had just been invented. These watches didn’t keep accurate time and were still too expensive for the average person to own.
Concerning important people in horology, German clockmaker, Peter Henlein, is considered to have invented the first watch in the 1500s, while Abraham-Louis Breguet could be considered the first to cement key aspects of horology.
Breguet was an apprentice watchmaker in the 18th century. He was also an amateur astronomer and had some knowledge of astronomy, as well as a knack for clocks, watches, and timepieces.
In 1781, he wrote his masterwork, The Art of Watchmaking, which detailed his methods for constructing precision instruments. It became the bible for future horologists.
He is also considered to have invented the first wristwatch in 1810.
Then, the addition of quartz to wristwatches in 1979 took the development of timepieces and horology forward life years.
The Future Of Horology
As the years passed and horologists realised that technology would keep evolving, they began taking their craft into the digital age, designing digital watches that were not only stunningly beautiful but also much easier to use than traditional mechanical watches.
Generally considered a hobby, horology has recently gained significant public interest and there is demand for skilled horologists in the market.
Horology is not only an interesting and entertaining profession but also a lucrative and rewarding career.
The average horologist makes around £49,000 annually. Those who work for high-end companies can earn as much as £53,000 per year. Specialists who repair antique pieces can command even more.
The field is expected to face some challenges though. Industry watchers say even though they have an interest in curiosities, the sale of mechanical and electronic timepieces continues to decline in favour of digital ones.
Horologists will therefore be challenged to come up with pieces that capture people’s interest.
We specialise in watch repairs and make assessments of antique pieces. Come in and talk to us. Call us at 0141 946 6333 to make an appointment.