FIRST TIME PART ONE WATCHES
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First Time Part One Watches First production Watches
First Time Part One Automatic Mechanical 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.
At the beginning of the century wristwatches were mostly worn by women. In 1904, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont asked his friend Louis Cartier to come up with an alternative that would allow him to keep both hands on the controls while timing his performances during flight. Cartier and his master watchmaker, Edmond Jaeger soon came up with the first prototype for a man's wristwatch called the Santos wristwatch. The Santos first went on sale in 1911, the date of Cartier's first production of wristwatches. During the First World War soldiers needed access to their watches while their hands were full. They were given wristwatches, called 'trench watches', which were made with pocketwatch movements, so they were large and bulky and had the crown at the 12 o'clock position like pocketwatches. After the war pocketwatches went out of fashion and by 1930 the ratio of wrist- to pocketwatches was 50 to 1. The first successful self-winding system was invented by John Harwood in 1923.
Automatic self-winding mechanicals are the most convenient. The only maintenance required is a time adjustment every week, and a date adjustment every two months (for months that have less than 31 days).
First Mechanical Watch Accuracy
Watches with jewels are more accurate. Not for decoration, these are low-friction bearings for the gear wheels. The number of jewels is normally printed on the watch dial, or engraved on the back of the watch. Around 15 to 20 jewels is a good number to have.
Watch repair shops can adjust a 20 jewel mechanical watch to an accuracy of 5 to 10 seconds a day or better: about a minute a week.
New watches need time to break in. Owners should wait a month for the mechanism to settle down before sending the watch for adjustment. Unadjusted watches can run fast or slow from 15 to 60 seconds a day. Anything more is likely a mechanical fault, requiring repair.
First Watch Features
Features such as date and day-of-week displays are common. Slightly more advanced features are
* "Hacking" where the second hand stops (that is, the watch stops) when the watch crown is pulled out to adjust the time. This allows the setting of the time to one second precision, allowing the wearer to play "let's synchronize our watches" like in the movies. Non-hacking watches can be stopped with light pressure to turn the watch hands backwards, but this is probably not good for the mechanism.
* Winding without shaking the watch. Not all automatic watches can be wound up by turning the crown (useful to top-up the spring tension after the watch hasn't been worn for a while).
More advanced features include
* Stop watch function.
* Moon phase display.
It is often recommended that mechanical watches be serviced every 2 years. This makes sense for expensive luxury watches.
For consumer watches, the cost of servicing a few times can be more than the cost of the watch. Owners may wish to wait longer: 5 to 10 years, or until a problem develops.
The First Swiss watch and clock industry appeared in Geneva in the middle of the 16th century. In 1541, reforms implemented by Jean Calvin and banning the wear of jewels, forced the goldsmiths and other jewellers to turn into a new, independent craft : watchmaking. By the end of the century, Genevan watches were already reputed for their high quality, and watchmakers created in 1601 the Watchmakers' Guild of Geneva, the first to be established anywhere.
One century later and because Geneva was already crowded with watchmakers, many of them decided to leave the city for the receptive region of the Jura Mountains.
Watchmaking in the Jura remains indebted to a young goldsmith called Daniel Jeanrichard (1665-1741), who, for the first time, introduced the division of labour in watchmaking. In 1790, Geneva was already exporting more than 60,000 watches.
The centuries were rich in inventions and new developements. In 1770, Abraham-Louis Perrelet created the "perpetual" watch (in French "Montre à secousses"), the forerunner of the modern self-winding watch. In 1842, pendant winding watches were invented by Adrien Philippe, one of the founders of the famous Patek Philippe watch company. At the same time began the production of complicated watches and the introduction of special features such as the perpetual calendar, the fly-back hand and chronographs.
The mass production of watches began at the turn of the 20th century, thanks to the researches and new technologies introduced by reputed watchmakers such as Frédéric Ingold and Georges Léchot. The increase of the productivity, the interchangeability of parts and the standardization progressively led the Swiss watch industry to its world supremacy.
The end of World War I corresponds to the introduction of the wristwatch which soon became very popular. Its traditional round shape was generally adopted in 1960. In 1926, the first self-winding wristwatch was produced in Grenchen, the first electrical watches being introduced later in 1952.
In 1967, the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) in Neuchâtel developed the world first quartz wristwatch - the famous Beta 21. Since then, major technical developments followed without interruption: LED and LCD displays, Swatch, quartz wristwatch without battery...
Since more than four centuries now, tradition, craftmanship, high technologies and permanent innovation have allowed Swiss watchmaking industry to keep its leadership in the world watch market. Because or thanks to the different crisis it had to go through, Swiss watchmaking industry has always been in a position to answer the many technological, economical and structural challenges it was confronted with. Its exceptional dynamism and creative power have made it a state-of-the-art industry, and the many inventions or world records in its possession are so many evidences : the first wristwatch, the first quartz watch, the first water resistant wristwatch, the thinnest wristwatch in the world, the smallest or the most expensive watch in the world
Historically, the Swiss watch and clock industry has always had a specialized horizontal structure in which suppliers, craftsmen and sub-contractors supply movements and external parts to assemblers called "établisseurs", who put the final product together. However, to a lesser extent, the industry has also developed a vertically integrated structure in which watches and clocks are sometimes made entirely by the same company, in this case called a "manufacture".
During the 1970s and early 1980s, technological upheavals (appearance of the quartz technology) and the difficult economic situation resulted in a reduction in the size of the industry : the number of employees fell from some 90,000 in 1970 to a little over 30,000 in 1984, a figure which has remained stable over the last thirteen years (40,000 employees in 2004) while the number of companies decreased from about 1,600 in 1970 to about 600 now.
The first average number of employees per company has remained constant, at just under 70 people per company in 2004, as in 1970. The great majority of watch companies are small sized companies (employing less than 100 people) while a very little number (less than 10) are each employing over 500 people.