Pocket Watch History


Pocket Watches

The discovery of spring technology made the personal pocket watch possible. A man named Peter Henlein is said to have discovered the spring technology, and it was a great move forward in timekeeping.

Although, spiral springs could be wound up and then uncoiled to make the hour hand of the clock move forward it could not unwind at a continuous speed, the result was inaccurate time. However, compared to telling time by the sun using a sundial was appreciated.

It wasn’t until 1675 that pocket watches would display the time within minutes rather than being off by almost an hour. Next, the minute hand was added, and later more gadgets such as dates. The quality of watches constantly improved, and eventually face covers were added, early pocket watches did not have a cover to protect the face or hour hand.

Up until the 19th century pocket watches were handmade, and quite expensive. They were owned by merchants and wealthy people. Although, we may consider the old watches clunky family heirlooms that have been passed on from generation to generation back then they were actually considered luxury items.

Railroad watches were used to keep trains on time, and were thought to do pretty well until the 1891 train crash in Kipton, Ohio that killed 11 people because of a four minute time error. Well, those two trains colliding changed the pocket watch industry standards. A commission was established to make standard safety changes.

Thus, the 1891 Watch Standard Requirements were established because people’s lives depended on it. Once the Commission set the rules the watch companies went to work to meet those standards, and completed the task of making pocket watches that met those safety standards. The result, the “Certified Railroad Approved Watch” went into effect, this lasted until the birth of the Quartz Movement in 1978 when watches were manufactured that ran on batteries.

Today, the pocket watch is still popular, and now the watches may come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some modern pocket watches have a handy clip that makes it easy to attach to accessories such as back packs, and clothing. Time and technology may have changed, but those old timekeepers are still sought after buy collectors, and treasured by many.