Why do we wear wristwatches?

wristwatches have only been widely used for less than a century.

If you're my age, you probably consider a wristwatch to be an essential part of your wardrobe. But would you be surprised to learn that this hasn't always been the case? If that's the case, get ready to have your mind blown: In fact, wristwatches have only been widely used for less than a century.

Some trend watchersbelieve that wristwatches have already been relegated to the dustbin of history by advances in technology. After all, who needs a wristwatch when our smartphones – even the most basic cell phones – tell us the time with greater consistency?

Could wristwatches be nothing more than a passing technological phase turned historical curiosity, similar to eight-track tape players and telephone booths? Or are watchmakers figuring out how to keep people buying and wearing watches?

The future of the once-essential wristwatchmay lie in the reasons we wear watches in the first place – and those reasons may be different today than they were in the twentieth century, when wristwatches first became popular.

It's a Matter of Time
The clock is ticking. We're running out of time. We are concerned about being late. Time is currency.

Every day, you hear these words. Time is so important in our lives that it's difficult to believe that most people didn't think much about it until the 18th century. For much of human history, the changing seasons and the position of the sun in the sky served as timekeepers. Natural signs were used by people to keep track of what they needed to know and do. When groups of people had to gather at specific times for various reasons — religious services, for example — there was little sense that most people needed to keep close track of time, or at least by minutes and seconds, as we do.

The Wristwatch's Golden Age
The twentieth century was the heyday of the wristwatch. Because of mass production, they were affordable to the average person, and the First World War made them acceptable for both men and women.

A watch was considered an essential part of both men's and women's wardrobes by the late twentieth century. Many people owned several watches, including utilitarian models for sports and leisure, stylish models for business wear, and high-fashion, expensive styles for dress. Ladies' watches had interchangeable bands in a variety of colours and styles.

Good timepieces became status symbols. Watches were popular graduation gifts.A costly gold watch was frequently the standard retirement gift. Men, in particular, purchased fine watches to pass down as family heirlooms.

Electronic watches that did not require winding were developed, and quartz movements made such watches so affordable by the 1970s that some fine watchmakers went out of business. Popular digital watches, such as Timex and Casio, can be purchased for as little as a few dollars. Fashion watches, such as Swatch, are popular and cost less than $100. Bulova watches are still reasonably priced, and Seiko, Citizen, and Fossil watches start around $100. Tissot and Lucien Picard watches, on the other hand, cost hundreds of dollars.


Katie Wilson

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