The first wristwatch with an alarm function was produced by luxury Swiss watchmaker Eterna in 1908, but it did not enter into production until 1914.
The origins of the first wristwatch are uncertain. Some say it was designed by Louis Cartier so that his friend, Mr. Santos-Dumont, could fly a plane without have to take his hands off the controls to reach for a pocket watch. Others claim the first wristwatch was first invented by a man named Patek Phillipe, back in 1868. His ‘Platinum Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch’ sold at Christies for a whopping 3.1 million dollars in May of 2008.
Many of the huge synchronised battles of WWI were only possible because of the widespread use of the affordable soldier’s wristwatch.
The digital watch concept had its origins in the 1968 sci-fi feature film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Director Stanley Kubrick commissioned Hamilton Watch Company to design a futuristic-looking – but non-functioning – timepiece to be worn by the film’s space pilots.
An engineer working for NASA called Dimitroff Petroff is generally recognised as building the first working digital watch.
The First electric watches were created in the US by Hamilton Watch Company (Hamilton 500) in 1957.
The self-winding watch mechanism was originally developed by John Harwood during 1923.
An experimental Rolex Deep Sea Special wristwatch was attached to the exterior of the Trieste deep sea exploration vehicle when it touched the very bottom of the Mariana Trench on January 23, 1960, reaching a depth of 35,814 feet (10,916 meters). It successfully withstood tremendous pressure that no submersible, let alone watch, had confronted. When they surfaced they checked the watch – it was completely dry inside and hadn’t lost a second.
The most expensive wristwatch ever sold was 5016A Patek Philippe timepiece which was purchased at auction in 2015 for $7.3 million.
During Tudor times watches were so large that they were of worn as a pendant around the neck – this being the place on the human body where they would be too much in the way.
Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual (ancestor of the Explorer) when he first scaled Mount Everest in 1953. This was the highest a watch had been while still on the ground.
The world’s most complicated mechanical pocket watch is the Patek Philippe Caliber 89 which was first made in 1989 and has 1800 separate components.
Watches on display for sale often have their hands set to either ten minutes past ten o’clock or ten minutes to two o’clock. The reason? In this formation the watches appear to have a ‘subliminal’ smiley face which jewellers have long believed helps to make them more appealing.
The first watch worn on the moon was the Omega Speedmaster. It was used by Buzz Aldrin – the second man on the moon – Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon) had forgotten to put his on.
Louis Moinet is the first and the only brand in the world that made a watch using a fragment of a real moon. Watchmakers profess that when creating a chronograph that displays lunar phases, two plates were “borrowed” from the meteorite that fell from the moon two millennia ago!