The changing status of the wrist watch...

The wrist watch is such a commonplace fashion item in today's marketplace that it almost seems unusual to not have one. For many, it is more than just a timepiece but a statement about financial standing, aesthetic taste and general lifestyle interests. It dictates personality, character and mood - and it also helps to keep people on time.

The beginning of the watch

Its heritage is long-ranging; the idea of a 'portable clock' can be traced back to the 1700s, when people were looking to carry the time with them.

Innovations in the mid-to-late 19th century helped to progress the design of these portable time devices and saw the advent of the machine manufacturing of watches. For many women, a bracelet carrying a watch on it had been fashionable during the 18th and 19th centuries, but by the time the Boer War hit, there was a shift in attitude that meant it was okay for men to follow suit.

That being said, for many the wristwatch was perceived as a passing fad. And, in 1916, this fashion trend remained somewhat of a puzzle. The New York Times wrote an article, published on the 9th July 1916 [], entitled 'Changed Status of the Wrist Watch'. In this piece, they noted that civilians were beginning to 'concede the value of the bracelet watch for general outdoor life'.

Pocket watch vs. wrist watch

Around this time, strap watches had been largely considered part of military equipment. They were worn by officers and soldiers in order to know the time. In fact, it was obligatory to wear one due to how important the telephone and signal service was in modern warfare. The old style pocket watch was just not practical, and so the wrist watch became commonplace.

While they were largely used by the army and navy, civilians had also begun to prefer the wrist watch over the pocket watch. For them, it was a harmless fashion piece. However, for the soldiers, the danger of the crystal breaking on their watches and shattering into their eyes and faces had seen there be much talk over potentially discontinuing their use.

Soon enough, old-fashioned strap watches were remedied to ensure their defects didn't cause their stoppage. A number of solutions came into effect, only to suffer further problems, before finally an inventor added unbreakable glass to their front. Clear, non-flammable and dust proof, it was the answer everyone had been looking for.

The wristwatch had, for many people at the time, been perceived as a passing phase. But it was to become a trend that eventually took off in great force for both men and women. It has, right up until today, continued to be an item worn by millions.

Endless possibilites

The wrist watch has adapted and developed and it is now possible to choose all kinds of styles, models and colours. They can be personalised, made bespoke or bought off-the shelf. You can build your own watch or design your own watch online at Boom. Not only is it a way of capturing the time but it's also a snapshot of history. The choice is yours!

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