Whether you’re wearing it for fashion or functionality, let’s take a journey through time and discover some fun facts about watches!
We all take wearing a watch for granted, don’t we? It’s understandable, since it’s always there around our wrist everyday. We look upon it countless times, often without even realizing it.
It keeps us on time and helps us countdown to the end of work, but there is so much more to discover about the humble watch.
Like where did we get the idea to put a clock around our wrists anyway? And why did it only become common for men to wear watches during World War I? Find out as we explore some fun facts about watches that will amaze you!
Oh, to be back in the day when a watch was simply used to tell the time. Today, watches have expanded into wearable tech with the ability to monitor our health metrics, search the internet, and schedule appointments. And the watches that still just tell us the time are more expensive than ever.
The magic of quartz crystal has to be one of the coolest watch facts we stumbled upon – just wait until you read about that one. And how about the watch that went to the moon and helped save the doomed Apollo 13 mission?
There are so many cool stories about watches that we never knew about! So come along and learn some watch history, some watch mechanics… and of course some ridiculous price tags!
22 Fun Facts About Watches
1. Watch is the word
The word watch comes from the old English waecce, which meant to keep an eye on and be awake. This is also, of course, where we get the term watchman or night watchman. Since we keep an eye on the clock, it makes sense that these two words are synonyms.
2. The first watch
It was the Egyptians who constructed the first clock/watch around 1500 BC. By carving a stone obelisk and placing it in the path of the sun, the Egyptians could tell time by the length and direction of the shadow the obelisk cast.
3. The pocket watch
The precursor to the wrist watch was the pocket watch. In fact, the pocket watch was the most popular choice for years.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s when wrist watches were becoming fashionable for women. And men would keep their watches hidden away in pockets well into the 1900s.
4. Can you fix my watch?
Watch repair is often regarded as a dying profession and art. In fact, over the past 60 years the number of qualified watchmakers has fallen from 60,000 to just 5,000 in the US.
5. You can wear it while swimming!
Rolex was the first company to create a waterproof watch in 1926. The watch, called the Oyster, had a watertight case and was sealed with rubber gaskets.
To prove it worked, Mercedes Gleitze wore it while swimming across the English Channel.
6. The smartwatch
Many of us have ditched the classic timepiece for wearable tech. Apple (no surprise) has become number one in the smartwatch market with over 30% of worldwide sales, leaving their main rival Samsung in the dust at a share of 10% of sales.
7. A watch made of what?
Watch straps and faces are very versatile and open for innovation. They can also be made up of many diverse materials.
Wood, bamboo, and recycled ocean plastic are some of the more sustainable options, while rubber, leather, woven fabrics and metal are more traditional.
8. A new fashion trend
Here’s one of the historical watch facts that is truly fascinating. In 1916, the New York Times reported on a strange new trend in Europe where men were wearing time pieces as bracelets.
This “bracelet” had actually become a necessity on the World War I battlefield and the public was also beginning to adopt the trend.
9. The moon watch
The Omega Speedmaster was the official watch of NASA’s Apollo missions and the first watch on the moon.
It also saved Apollo 13, as the exact 14-second thruster burn that set the doomed spacecraft back on course was timed to perfection on the Speedmaster. In our opinion, this is one of the coolest fun facts about watches we discovered!
10. A face to remember
Watchmakers are very creative people. Some of the awesome watch faces out there include an astronomical watch that shows the movements of each planet in our solar system, and the Bradley timepiece designed for the blind with two palpable ball bearings indicating hours and minutes. All you have to do is touch where the ball bearing is one the clockface to tell the time. Cool, hey?
11. The preferred watch of Bond
Rolex was the official watch of James Bond until Pierce Brosnan took over the role in 1995. That was when the Omega Seamaster came to be known as Bond’s watch of choice.
The reason for the change? The blue watch face perfectly matched Brosnan’s blue eyes.
12. Quartz or mechanical?
If not run digitally, watches tell time either by quartz crystal or mechanical gears. You’d think mechanical watches would be more accurate, but in fact, quartz is much more precise.
Quartz watches are usually cheaper too! More on quartz crystals later on in our journey of watch facts.
13. A watch for a psycho
In the search for a watch sponsor for the film American Psycho, many companies didn’t want to be associated with the film’s violent storyline.
Rolex finally agreed, but only if Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) didn’t wear the watch when dismembering bodies. Yikes!
14. Most complicated watch ever created
The stunning and very confusing Vacheron Constantin reference 57260 watch took 8 years to assemble and went through 85 prototypes.
The watch has 2,826 components, 57 complications and 242 jewels. It also has 33 hands! The price? A cool $10 million.
15. The classics of mechanics
Among the many historical watch facts this one shows the true timelessness of the mechanical watch. The inner workings of a basic watch haven’t changed in over 200 years.
A tightly wound spring powers a wheel of four gears to which the hands are attached. Simple as that.
16. A hefty price-tag
It’s time to take out a very big loan! The world’s most expensive watch is the Patek Philippe Supercomplication constructed in 1933.
At auction in 2014, this watch sold for $24 million dollars, breaking its own record when it sold for $11 million in 1999.
17. Watches in WWI
As mentioned earlier, the wristwatch became common for men during World War I. Soldiers had to be at the ready, often with their gun in hand.
It was still very important to know the time to coordinate attacks, and thus the wristwatch was widely adopted. It was also the death knell for the pocket watch.
18. The most glamorous watch company
The French jeweler Cartier is known for their stunning watches for both men and women. In fact, Cartier was the preferred watch of many of the most influential women of the 20th century, including Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy.
19. No robots allowed
Today, most watches are at least partially machine manufactured. However, Rolex has refused to give in to this change in the industry.
Every Rolex watch is meticulously assembled by hand and then independently reviewed for quality. This is even more impressive because Rolex makes 2,000 watches every day!
20. How does quartz crystal work?
First you need a battery. The battery sends electricity through the quartz crystal. The electricity causes the crystal to vibrate 32,768 times per second.
The electrical circuit counts the vibrations, and after 32,768 vibrations, it moves the second hand forward. We admit, out of all the watch facts this is the coolest and most confusing we came across!
21. That watch is smiling at me
Watches displayed in shops and showrooms are usually set to the times 10:10 or 2:50. The reason? When the hands are in this position it looks like the watch has a smiley face. This improves customer mood and encourages them to buy!
22. Watch tan
It’s the dreaded summer conundrum. No one wants a nice even tan only to have a pale band of skin around their wrist.
In fact, over 40% of non-watch wearers choose not to because of this very reason! Is it worth being late to be bronzed all over? We’ll let you decide!
Have you got your fill of watch facts? Or are there any other fun facts about watches we might have missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to this article!