Friday, August 24, 2007

The Wristwatch - Born on a Woman's Wrist

It's true, women were the first to adorn their wrists with time. Since the mid-19th century, with sporatic examples dating even further back (here), most ladies wristwatches were incorporated into bracelets, heavily jeweled, stylishly decorative, and quite often concealing their functions. Women were at least five decades if not more than a century ahead of the first mens Cartier Santos, a watch made for a pilot in the early 1900s. Ahead of the first military watches that placed strapped pocket watches onto a soldiers wrist.

This history has been beautifully documented in the extensive interactive exhibit, "Fine Watchmaking - A Tribute to Women", an exhibition from the 2007 SIHH. Examples from the show below and the complete online catalogue here-->LINK

1868 - First Patek Philippe wristwatch
Made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary
One of the oldest known bracelet-watches.
Movement signed Capt & Freundler à Genève, 1813.
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle, Switzerland

1930s Cadenas Watch witch serpentine chain
Van Cleef & Arpels

Advertisement for the Marquise watch by Baume & Mercier.
Marquise watch. Early 1950s. Baume & Mercier collection

Unusual watch attached to a ribbon

And from the article, "Women and watches - A long standing love affair"

"The wristwatch conquers new fans

With the sleeveless dresses of the Directoire and Empire styles, the bracelet became a blank canvas on which jewelers could express their creativity. Some were inspired to incorporate a timepiece, proving that women, not men, were the first to wear their watch on their wrist. However, not everyone welcomed this innovation. Certain of its detractors even claimed that such small and doubtless fragile mechanisms would inevitably be damaged by the movements of the wrist.

This by no means discouraged Omega, which proposed wristwatches for men and women as of 1905. The watch was seen from a new angle, as a fashion accessory. Women were encouraged to own several and adapt them to their outfit and activities. When, in 1914, the women’s magazine Femina ran a poll of its readers, 3,437 of the 4,350 respondents said they preferred the wristwatch. After the First World War, both men and women adopted the wristwatch for its modern, sporting or avant-garde image. All eyes focused on Rolex when in 1927 Mercedes Gleitze swam the Channel with a waterproof Oyster strapped to her wrist. After the Second World War, society discovered mass consumption and an emphasis on well-being as never before. Life was once again a social whirl and luxury reinstated. Piaget was one of the first to create watches in a jewelery spirit, followed by Jaeger-LeCoultre and Chopard."

For the rest of this article-->Link

Via Journal de la Haute Horlogerie
& Origins of the Wristwatch before 1900

Related Posts on The Watchismo Times;
All Ladies Wristwatch Features-->Link
Jewelry Features-->Link

Find more ladies watches here

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