The Evolution of Luxury

Evolution of Watches

In 1810 the famous French watch maker was comissioned by the Queen of Naples to make a wristwatch, which was completed in 1812. Patek Philippe made the key-winding lady's bracelet watch shown on the left in 1868 for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

Similar developments were taking place in Switzerland. In February 1889, Albert Bertholet of Bienne registered a claim, which was granted Swiss patent number CH 576 in April 1889, for a "Montre bracelet simplifiée" or simplified wristwatch, which implies that there must have previously been a more complicated wristwatch. Bertholet's simplification was to do away with the winding and setting by crown and stem. The watch was wound by turning the bezel, which was geared directly to the mainspring barrel; to set the hands a gear, which engaged directly with the cannon pinion, was brought to a small slot in the side of the case so that it could be turned with a finger.

M. Bertholet does not specify whether his montre bracelet was intended for men or for women but, given the name "bracelet watch" and the prevailing fashion at the time, we must suspect that if ihis invention was used - and I have never seen even a mention of a watch with this type of winding - it would have been in ladies watches. In the 1890s, in Switzerland as everywhere else, unless it was being used to tell the time, a man's watch was firmly ensconced in his pocket.

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Fashion and Technical Challenges

By the middle of the nineteenth century many, if not most, watch makers were producing bracelet watches, often with elaborate enamelling and jewelling of saphires, rubies, or diamonds. These early pretty, jewellery like, bracelet watches were worn by ladies. Men considered that wrist watches were too small to be properly engineered in order to keep time accurately; and too prone to damage by shock, or contamination with dust and moisture due to their exposed location; and, perhaps most damning of all, effeminate: because wristwatches were only worn by ladies.

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Source: www.vintagewatchstraps.com
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