Pocket Watches

Pocket Watches


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Origins of the Watch


Late 15th Century: A miniaturization of the small spring-driven table clock introduced by Italian clockmakers.

Early 16th Century: It is likely that the Italians were producing clocks small enough to be worn on a person.

16th Century: Watchmaking then spread throughout Europe and England.
1675: Early watches were poor timekeepers until the introduction of the balance spring. After this innovation, the minute hand regularly appear on watches.
17th & 18th Centuries: Better escapements further improved watch performance, as did "jewelling" - the use of jeweled bearings to reduce friction. London, Paris, and Geneva flourished as centers of fine watchmaking.


Stylistic Value


- Watches were very successful as ornaments.

- Cases and dials were painstakingly handcrafted, and reflected the specialized skills of casemakers, gilders, engravers, enamelers, and jewelers.

- French watches were especially decorative and opulent, while English, German, and Dutch designs were generally more sedate. French designs simplified as technical advances improved the watch's image as a serious timekeeper.


Watch Production

Before the 19th Century: Watches were individually assembled from handcrafted parts.

   - Several craftsmen were involved in the fabrication of a watch: one artisan making the rough castings, others making such parts as the spring, case, dial, and hands, and the "watchmaker" who put his name on the final product finishing the parts and assembling them into a working watch.

   - Watches were extremely costly due to the labor involved.

Late 19th Century: American developments in mechanized watch production made watches affordable.