The history of the watch started with the very first attempts to measure time. Timekeeping of some form dates back 6000 years when the Sumerians used sun dials to tell the time by way of casting the sun's shadow against crude measuring devices.
The current way of measuring time is based on sixty seconds per minute and sixty seconds per hour. This system is known as sexageismal which is also quite a good scrabble word. The Sexageismal or base 60 system is believed to have been used by the ancient Babylonians who borrowed it from the Sumerians. This system is also used in geometry. For example, a circle has 360 degrees which is a multiple of 60.
The 24 hour day which is divided into two 12 hour periods is due in part to the Egyptians who also used giant obelisks to measure time through the use of the sun. The Egyptians were also one of the first civilizations to utilise water as a method for measuring time. The water clocks transferred water from one container to another in a specified amount of time. However, the use of water clocks has been reported all over the world including other countries such as ancient China, Tibet, India and even England.
It wasn't until the fourteenth century that clocks, that we would normally identify as clocks, appeared in Europe. The new clocks were designed using a verge escapement mechanism with a balance wheel. The device continued as the dominant type of clock until the arrival of the pendulum clock which was invented in 1656.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the arrival of bracelets with clocks on them, or more accurately...watches. In fact, there was a report in an American newspaper, The New York Times back in July 1916. In the article, the newspaper acknowledged that the arrival of the European bracelet clock had been a source of derision by Americans for some time but times were changing. The newspaper noted that with the backdrop of the first world war, the watches had become obligatory for military personnel. Not only were the army, navy and air forces now wearing watches but the general public began wearing watches instead of the old fashioned pocket watches.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
In 2017, Phillips auctioneers of New York were charged with the sale of a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that had once been gifted to the Hollywood film star Paul Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward in 1968. Originally costing $300 from Tiffany & Co store in New York, Newman wore the watch every day for 15 years.
The watch was expected to fetch in the region of $1,000,000 but just 12 minutes into the auction, the timepiece that is engraved with the message “Drive carefully”, had reached 17 times estimates and finally finished at a whopping $17,752,500 or £13.500,000. It had been given to James Cox back in 1984 as thanks for helping Newman build a tree house, the famous actor had said that it "keeps good time". Cox was the boyfriend of the famous actor's daughter, Nell Newman, at the time and although the relationship didn't last, they remained on good terms and some of the proceeds from the sale were donated to the Nell Newman Foundation, a charitable organisation.