Timeline of a Watch – History & Evolution of Watches

Timeline of a wristwatch part 1 of 9 from 1485 to 1686 at Timeline Help.This is the history of the watch worn on the wrist.

Everybody has a little clock that tells the time at first glance. Ever wondered how the mechanism was invented, how were they made, when and where? Answers to all these questions on the following pages.


Due to the fact that the neat mechanisms for the early clocks centuries ago were the fundaments of the watches we wear today, I also grouped those relevant and related facts and data in my timeline of a wristwatch.

– 1485 Leonardo da Vinci makes a sketch of a mainspring for clocks.
– 1524 German locksmith Peter Heinlein invents the first pocket watch.
– 1517 Watchmakers construct smaller wrist watches due to the invention of the mainspring.
– 1544 The first watch and clockmakers guild is founded in Paris.
– 1554 French Thomas Bayard becomes the first official Swiss watchmaker.
– 1565 The German watch and clockmakers guild is founded in Nuremberg, Germany.
– 1582 Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci presents watchmaking techniques to the Emperor of China in the Portuguese trading post-Macau in Southern China.
– 1600s Watches with decorated cases and religious ornaments are popular jewelry pieces.
– 1601 The Swiss guild of watch and clockmakers, the Genevan Corporation of Watchmakers is founded.
– 1632 French Jean Toutin develops the enamel painting technique for decorating dials and cases.
– 1635 The spirally grooved, conical pulley and chain arrangement for counteracting the diminishing power of the uncoiling mainspring, called a fusee, is used in watches.
– 1658 English polymath Robert Hooke invents the balance spring or hairspring to keep time with reasonable accuracy.
– 1675 Dutch physicist Christian Huygens invents the spiral balance spring, a winding mechanism to regulate the force that drives the timekeeping mechanism of a clock, called the remontoire.
– 1680 English horologist Daniel Quare invents a repeating pocket watch mechanism that sounds quarter hours and the hours.
– 1685 Many French watchmakers emigrate to the U.K. and Switzerland.
– 1686 English horologist Edward Barlow patents his mechanism for pulling and repeating pocket watches and clocks.


– 1704 Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier patent the use of jewels as wheel bearings in mechanical watches.
– 1710 Samuel Watson invents the five-minute repeater.
– 1715 English clockmaker George Graham invents the dead-beat escapement.
– 1725 George Graham invents the cylinder escapement.
– 1750 Watchmakers start decorating clocks with an enamel technique.
– 1753 French watchmaker Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais invents the escape mechanism for compact watches, including a ring-watch for mistress Madame de Pompadour of Louis XV.
– 1755 Vacheron Constantin founded in Geneva by Jean-Marc Vacheron and Francois Constantin.
– 1757 English horologist Thomas Mudge invents the lever escapement.
– 1760 The Swiss watch shop opens its doors in Zurich, Switzerland.
– 1775 Abraham Louis Breguet founds the Breguet watchmaking shop in the Île de la Cité in Paris, France.
– 1776 Genevan watchmaker Jean-Moïse Pouzait invents the independent sweep seconds mechanism.
– 1780 Abraham Louis Breguet developes the Perpétuelle, the first a self-winding watch. Much more on him in this Timeline of a Wristwatch 2 and the next pages.
– 1783 English watchmaker Thomas Earnshaw patents the pocket spring detent chronometer escapement.
– 1786 First watches with the guilloché engraving dials appear.
– 1789 Abraham Louis Breguet invents the key which prevents a watch from being wound in the wrong direction, called the Breguet Key.
– 1790 Abraham Louis Breguet invents the anti-shock device Pare-Chute.
– 1791 Swiss watchmaker Jean-Francois Bautte founds his manufacturing company, that later becomes the Girard-Perregaux.
– 1795 Abraham Louis Breguet presents the Souscription – subscription watch, it regulates time in a special recess.
– 1798 Abraham Louis Breguet presents invents the Sympathique clock and watch set.
– 1799 Breguet presents the Tact watch, it shows the time by touch.
– 1801 Breguet patents his Tourbillon Regulator.
– 1809 Luther Goddard of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts becomes the first watch manufacturer of the U.S.
– 1810 Breguet makes a wristwatch for the Queen of Naples.
– 1812 First watches with off-centre hour ring dials.
– 1820 Thomas Prest patents the self winding watch.
– 1822 French watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec patents the seconds chronograph.
– 1830 Breguet designs the first keyless winding watch.
– 1833 Swiss manufacturer Auguste Agassiz starts Longines Watch Company with Ernest Francillon, Henri Raiguel and Florian Morel.
– 1834 Abraham Louis Breguet patents the Sympathique clock watch.
– 1838 Swiss watch maker Louis Audemars invents the keyless stem winding and setting mechanism.
– 1839 Georges-Auguste Leschot of Swiss manufacturer Vacheron and Constantin builds machine tools for manufacturing wristwatches.
– 1842 French horologist Adrien Philippe patents his keyless winding mechanism and setting through the crown.
– 1844 Antoine LeCoultre invents the Millionometer.
– 1847 Antoine LeCoultre invents his keyless crown winding system.
– 1848 Louis Brandt founds the Omega Watch Company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
– 1850 American watchmaker Aaron Lufkin Dennison founds the Waltham Watch Company in Freeport, Maine, making watches with interchangeable parts.
– 1853 Swiss watchmaker company Tissot is founded.
– 1856 Swiss watch company Eterna is founded.
– 1858 Swiss manufacturers Charles-Yvan Robert and Hyppolite Robert of Villeret found Minerva Watch.
– 1860 Edouard Heuer founds the Heuer watchmaking company in St-Imier, Switzerland.
– 1865 Georges Favre-Jacot founds Zenith in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
– 1867 Swiss manufacturer Ernest Francillon builds the first keyless hunting-cased pocket-watch.
– 1868 Patek Philippe & Co. produces the first wristwatch.
– 1869 Edouard Heuer patents the first crown-winding mechanism for watches.
– 1870 E. Brown Jewelers in London buys Breguet Company from the descendants of Breguet.
– 1871 Aaros Dennison of International Watch Company invents a waterproof case.
– 1875 Joseph Bulova founds the Bulova Watch Company in New York.
– 1877 Charles-Auguste Paillard invents the palladium balance-spring.
– 1880 Swiss horlogist François Borgel invents the first water-resistant watch case.
Girard-Perregaux produces wrist-chronometers for the German Navy.
– 1881 Swiss watchmaker Achille Ditisheim founds Movado.

Japanese Kintaro Hattori founds Seiko.

– 1882 Edouard Heuer patents its first chronograph. More on Heuer after this Timeline of a wristwatch 4.
– 1884 Léon Breitling founds Breitling in Switzerland.
– 1888 Cartier launches its first ladies wristwatches with diamond and gold bracelets.
– 1889 The Longines winged hourglass is trademarked.
– 1890 The Voirol Frères patent their winding mechanism with hand-setting button on the side for wristwatches.
Le Roy et Fils patents a keyless mechanism.
– 1892 First minute repeater wristwatch.
– 1894 Numa Emile Descombes and Ulysse Georges Perret found Universal Geneve.
– 1895 Seiko starts manufacturing kits Fob watches.
– 1900 Omega Watch receives the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair.

Longines receives the Grand Prix at the Paris Universal Fair.

– 1902 Omega produces of special women’s wristwatches.
– 1903 Charles Didisheim patents a wristwatch.
Dimier Frères and Co patents their strap watch.
– 1904 Wristwatches are army equipment during the Boer War.

Cartier designs the Santos-Dumont.

– 1905 Schild Frères patents a wristwatch case.
– 1906 Grumbach patents an improved wristwatch.

Swiss watch manufacturer Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis found the Rolex Company.

– 1907 The expandable flexible bracelet is invented.
– 1910 LeCoultre creates the thinnest pocket watch.
– 1911 Longines begins to produce wristwatches.

Louis Cartier patents the deployant folding clasp.

Movado receives Grand Prix Exhibitions Awards in Brussels, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

The School of Horology awards Rolex for its first wrist Chronometer.

– 1912 Shokosha company founded, later called Citizen Watch.
– 1913 Longines presents the first automatic wrist timekeeping device.

First Movado army wristwatch, glass protected by a grid.

Seiko presents a wristwatch.

– 1914 First alarm wristwatch by Eterna.

Class A Certificate of Precision for Rolex.

– 1915 Gaston creates the first wristwatch for pilots.

Wilsdorf & Davis renamed The Rolex Watch Company.

– 1917 Omega produces special pilot watches for the British Royal Airforce.

Cartier creates the Tank watch.

– 1918 Omega constructs special watches for the U.S.
– 1920 Audemars presents the smallest repeater watch.

Tag Heuer watches are used as timekeepers at the Olympics in Antwerp, Paris and Amsterdam.

– 1921 The hour-angle pilot watch to determine longitude, is invented.
– 1923 English watchmaker John Harwood invents a water-resistant wristwatch.

Breitling builds the first independent chronograph push device.

Harwood invents an automatic wrist watch.

Harwood produces self-winding watches.

– 1925 Patek Philippe creates the first perpetual calendar wristwatch.
– 1926 Rolex launches the Oyster, the first truly water-resistant case and crown.
– 1927 Patek Philippe makes the Packard, world’s most complicated watch.

Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton invent the first quartz clock.

– 1929 Eterna launches an eight-day alarm wristwatch.

Tissot produces the first anti-magnetic watch.

LeCoultre’s Jean-Louis Reutter invents Atmos, a perpetual clock.

LeCoultre presents the smallest device, the 101 Calibre.

– 1930 The first known tourbillon wristwatch.
– 1931 Shokosha Watch renamed Citizen.

Rolex introduces the waterproof and perpetually self-winding Auto Rotor.

Italian Louis Cottier creates World Time wristwatch with rectangular movement.

Rolex Perpetual, the first automatic wristwatch, the rotor swings in a complete circle.

– 1932 Jaeger-LeCoultre presents the Reverso.

Longines creates the Lindbergh Aviator.

– 1933 Ingersoll makes the first watch for children featuring Mickey Mouse.

Nivarox compensating balance-spring and Nivaflex mainspring introduced.

Longines is official timekeeper at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Patek Philippe presents the Calatrava.

Breitling patents the push-button chronograph.

Porte-Echappement Universel invents a shock absorption system, the Incabloc.

– 1934 Breitling makes the second return-to-zero push watch.
– 1936 Breitling becomes official wristwatch supplier to the Royal Air Force.

Omega, Hamilton and Breitling official wristwatch supplier to the U.S. air forces.

Omega is the official time keeper at the Olympic games in Berlin.

– 1937 Dubois/Depraz creates a chronograph module system.
– 1938 Rolex presents the Bubble Back.
– 1939 The sidereal timekeeper is patented.
– 1942 Breitling presents the Chronomat, the first chronograph with a circular slide rule.

Felsa and Eterna invent the bidirectional rotating winder or bidynator.

– 1945 The first watch with a date display, the Rolex Date is launched.

Rolex Jubilee Bracelet is presented.

– 1946 Audemars Piguet creates world’s thinnest wristwatch.
– 1947 American designer Nathan George Horwitt creates the Movado Museum watch.

The first Russian wristwatch, the Poljot, is presented.

Rolex presents its Oyster Bracelet.

Rolex introduces the Submariner watch.

Tissot launches its Tissot Navigator with a universal calendar.

– 1948 American horlogerist Harold Lyons of Eterna invents the ammonia maser atomic clock.
– 1950 Rolex presents the Mercedes Hands.
Swiss horlogerist Louis Cottier invents the World Time system with two crowns.
– 1951 Longines Wittnauer Watch company merger.
– 1952 Breitling presents the pilot Navitimer for handling all flight plan calculations.
– 1953 Lips launches the first battery powered wristwatch with contacts devices.

Rolex introduces its Explorer.

– 1954 Rolex introduces its Cyclops on Crystal.

Rolex introduces its GMT-Master.

Rolex introduces its Ladies Oyster Perpetual.

Swiss manufacturer Vacheron Constantin designs the Extraplate.

– 1955 Jaeger LeCoultre presents Memovox, the first self winding alarm watch.
– 1956 Rolex presents its Day Date President.
– 1957 Hamilton Watch introduces battery driven watches.
– 1959 Rolex introduces its Crown Guards.
– 1960 Bulova presents the Accutron tuning fork watches.



– 1961 Breitling creates the 24 hour dial Cosmonaute Navitimer for the astronauts of the NASA Mercury space program.

U.S.S.R. cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin wears a Shturmanskie Poljot during his first space flight.

– 1962 First light emitting diodes for wrist watches are invented.

U.S. astronaut Scott Carpenter uses a Cosmonaute Navitimer chronograph aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule.

Swiss manufacturer ETA invents the first quartz battery operated watch.

Astronaut John Glenn wears a Heuer Stopwatch on the first manned U.S. orbital mission.

First scratch proof watch, the Diastar, by Rado.

Rolex presents its Cosmograph Daytona.

– 1963 Favre Leuba introduces the Bivouac altimeter and barometer wristwatch.
– 1964 Seiko is the official timerkeeper of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
– 1965 Tag Heuer patents the Microtimer.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA chooses the Omega Speedmaster as its official chronometer.

– 1966 Girard-Perregaux builds the Swiss Quartz Movement high frequency wristwatch.
– 1967 The atomic clock is invented.

Swiss Centre Electronique Horloger introduces the first analog quartz watch Bêta 21.

– 1968 Liquid crystal displays appear.
– 1969 Breitling, Büren, Zenith and Heuer-Leonidas develop the self-winding chronograph movement.

First quartz wristwatches with light emitting diode displays appear.

International Watch Company presents the DaVinci watch.

Seiko presents the Astron.

Longines constructs the first quartz cybernetic wristwatch.

Omega Speedmaster Professional is the first watch on the moon worn by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong on 21 July 1969.

Heuer introduces the Monaco.

Zenith creates the epitome of chronograph movements El Primero.

– 1970 Seiko Time Corporation starts in the U.S.

Hamilton releases its first electronic digital watch Pulsar with integrated circuit.

Chaumet Jewelers buys the Breguet brand.

Rolex presents the Submariner Date.

– 1971 Video Longines is introduced, timekeeping in combination with an electronic image.

Rolex presents its Explorer II.

Rolex presents its Sea-Dweller.

– 1971-79 Heuer official timekeeper in Formula One racing.
– 1972 Audemars Piguet presents the first stainless steel luxury wrist watch, the Royal Oak.

Longines and Seiko introduce the Liquid Crystal Display wrist watch.

Rolex presents its Hacking Movement.

– 1974 Casio launches the first digital watch with automatic calendar, the Casiotron.
– 1975 Raymond Weil introduces the ultra slim movement.
– 1976 Maurice Lacroix is launched.
– 1977 Rolex presents its Oyster Quartz Day Date.

Rolex presents its Quick Set Date Feature.

Rolex presents its Sapphire Crystal.

– 1978 Ebel presents its Sport Classique.

The Vacheron Constantin Kallista is sold for 5,000,000 U.S. Dollars.

– 1979 World’s thinnest watch (1.98 mm) is created, called the Delirium.

Longines presents its Golden Leaf gold wristwatches collection.

– 1980 Corum launches the Golden Bridge.

Carlo Crocco creates the Hublot with the first natural black rubber strap.

Rolex presents its Sea Dweller 4000.

– 1982 Seiko official timekeeper of the World Cup Soccer Championship in Spain.
– 1983 The 150th anniversary of Longines is celebrated with the ultra-thin Comptoir Agassiz.

Casio presents its shock resistant G-Shock.

Longines creates the Conquest.

The Swatch Group introduces the Swatch brand.

Rolex presents its GMT-Master II.

– 1984 Breitling creates the Chronomat for the pilots of the Italian Frecce Tricolori show flight team.

World’s first talking wristwatch, the Seiko Pyramid Talk, is launched.

– 1985 Swiss manufacturer International Watch Company creates the Da Vinci chronograph with perpetual calendar.

The Swiss Heuer Company and TAG form TAG Heuer.

– 1986 The first self winding tourbillon wristwatch presented by Audemars Piguet.

Seiko is the official timekeeper of the World Cup Soccer Championship in Mexico.

Tissot presents its Rock watch.

– 1987 Seiko is the official timekeeper of the World Athletics Championships in Italy.

Tissot presents a wristwatch with both analog and digital displays.

Investcorp buys the Breguet brand from Chaumet Jewelers.

– 1988 Jean d’Eve creates the first quartz watch with an automatic rotor power source, called the Samara.

Rolex presents its New Daytona.

Longines is the official timekeeper of the Winter Olympics in Calgary and the Summer Olympics in Seoul. And there are even more timekeeper sports events in this Timeline of a Wristwatch 9.

– 1989 The 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe is celebrated with the world’s most complicated pocket watch.

International Watch Company presents its Planetarium Copernicus.

– 1991 House of Franck Muller is founded creating very complicated wristwatches.

Philippe Dufour creates a wristwatch with a double regulator, called the Duality.

Timex presents its Indiglo.

– 1992 Rolex presents its Yachtmaster.

International Watch Company presents its Tellurium.

– 1994 Lange and Söhne presents the Lange One.

Rolex presents its Yachtmaster for Ladies.

– 1995 Breitling presents a multifunction wristwatch with a micro-transmitter broadcasting on a aircraft emergency frequency, called the Emergency.
– 1998 Breitling creates a versatile multifunction chronograph B-1.

Longines introduces the DolceVita.

– 1999 Casio launches the first wristwatch with a Global Positioning System.

The Swatch Group incorporates the Breguet brand.

– 2000 Longines is official timekeeper of the Olympics in Sydney.

Swiss manufacturer François-Paul Journe invents the first resonance watch.

– 2001 Rolex presents its Laser Etched Crystal Hologram.
– 2003 Rolex presents its Green Submariner Date.
– 2004 Franck Muller launches his Tourbillon Révolution and Jaeger-LeCoultre presents its GyroTourbillon.

Greubel-Forsey creates the Double-Tourbillon and Thomas Prescher’s a triple tourbillon.

– 2005 Seiko invents the first self-winding mechanical watch with an electromagnetic escapement, called the Spring Drive Kinetic.
– 2007 Audemars creates a limited edition of the Jumping Hour Minute Repeater.

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