Antique Watches

The first pocket watch was created in Germany by Peter Henlein in 1524. Others appears in 1548 and more were produced in Switzerland and England after 1575. At this time the main problem was the driving mechanism. Typically, weights were used, which made portable watches impractical, but it was a period of great advancement and innovation. The first movements were made of steel, then later brass. They had no balance springs and were notoriously inaccurate. The watches had only an hour hand and had to be wound twice daily. Soon the spiral leaf mainspring appeared, the greatest innovation at the time as it allowed long-term power without weights. Because of a difference in timing between the long arcs and the short arcs, accuracy could only be improved by using a limited portion of the mainspring. Germany produced a watch with a cam at the end of a barrel arbor to compensate for variations in spring tension, but it was the English and French solution to use the fusee. This stopped the watch during winding to prevent over oscillation of the balance wheel. Additional stops were included as regulators. 

Form watches became popular in the 1600s, with cases shaped like animals and objects. Religious themes were especially popular. Although there were few technical improvements, watches became more like pieces of jewelry. It wasn't until 1704 that the first rubies were used in watch movements to create more accurate time pieces. By 1750, enamel was used on watch dials making them more visible in low light. The first self-winding movement was invented in 1780, by Abraham Perrelet, and in 1820 Thomas Prest registered a patent for a self-winding watch. In America, in 1809, the first watch manufacturer was Luther Goddard of Shrewsbuy, Massachussetts. In 1848, Louis Brandt opened a workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds which was to later become the Omega Watch company. It was the Americans, around 1850, who were first to go into mass production, with mixed results, the main companies being Waltham, Elgin and Hamilton. 

In 1884, Greenwich, England was named the zero meridian, a worldwide acceptance of a starting point for global time zones. After 1900, advances in metallurgy improved the mechanisms, primarily because the balance spring was sensitive to temperature and position. Self-compensating balances were made with bi-metallic properties to compensate for high and low tempartures, and eventually a balance was created that could compensate for middle temperature errors. In 1905 the Rolex Watch Company was started by Hans Wilsdorf. 1914 saw the first wristwatch with an alarm. Seiko was started in Tokyo in 1924. 

In 1933, Ingersoll introduced the Mickey Mouse watch, considered to be the first comic character watch. This initiated a trend that has expanded greatly in popularity and scope. The pocketwatch continued until the end of the Second World War, then was for the most part replaced by wristwatches. The Swiss dominated the world markets in quality by the use of an expensive jeweled watch with a lever system. The pin pallet was used in cheaper watches, finally displacing the cylinder escapement. Rolex produced a day and date watch in 1956, and the following year Hamilton produced the world's first battery operated watch. In 1970, the "Pulsar" appeared, the first electronic digital watch. This was followed two years later by LCD watches, produced by both Seiko and Longines. 1999 saw the innovative Global Positioning System built-into a Casio wristwatch. 

It is the character watches starting with the 1933 Mickey Mouse watch that can command premium prices, even in the face of inferior timekeeping ability. The heroes of the comics, sports, and cinema, both real and imaginary, have become identities to children, as much a form of who you are as the adult form of the tattoo. But as a child's companion and toy, the product could often be broken or lost, with the result that finding rarer models in near mint condition is a daunting task. The challenge of hunting for such pieces through flea markets and garage sales can be the essence of the joy of collecting. 




Free counters provided by Andale.

oldwax explorers