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A Brief History of Timepieces: Vintage Watches

November 06 2019

Wristwatches were born in the 17th  century from spring-powered clocks, and the first one was believed to have been made by Abraham-Louis Breguet, who created a timepiece for the Queen of Naples in 1810. Shortly after, Patek Phillippe made a watch for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, and once a trend breaks out amongst the elite, it tends to trickle down: soon women around the world were clamouring for this functional jewellery.

But women’s pieces they remained. It wasn’t until the Boer War, when Africa’s heat proved to be too much for the British, that men started to use them. They simply found it too hot to wear the required jacket to which they normally attached their ‘pocket’ watches, so they strapped them on to their wrists instead.

Up to that point, men normally used pocket watches, which typically had an attached chain to allow them to be secured to a waistcoat, lapel or belt loop. They were frequently decorated with a silver or enamel pendant, often carrying the coat of arms for the owner’s family or club, to emphasise social identity.

It’s this personal touch that makes vintage and antique watches increasingly popular today, along with the quality of the mechanics, the elegance of their style, and the charm of the object’s history.