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Watch History

Find out a little about the history of pocket watches, and pocket watch companies.

The History of Watches *
An excellent article about the history of the watch by Alan Costa. It covers watches from before 1600 to the present.

Making Watches by Machinery *
An article written in the July 1869 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine about a new Elgin watch company factory.

Railroad Watches
Railroad watch standards were mandated after a train collision caused by inaccurate watches. The following sites have details about why railroad watches were developed, and what standards they had to live up to. Generally railroad watches are of very high quality and accuracy, which increases their collectable value.

Waltham Watch Company FAQ *
Frequently asked questions about Waltham Watches and the Waltham Watch Company.

Waltham History (*)
Information provided by the Waltham company web site.
Pocket Watches up to approx. 1850 *
The first half of an excellent history of the pocket watch. Watches of this period were basically custom-built one-of-a-kind items.

Pocket Watches After approx. 1850 *
The second part of the Pocket Watch history. In this era most pocket watches were mass produced on an industrial scale using assembly lines.

Winding the Clock *
The poem credited for tall-case clocks being known as grandfather clocks.

IV vs IIII on Roman dials *
Several theories as to why clocks and watches with roman numerals usually use "IIII" for 4 instead of "IV". My personal theory is that the classical Romans used "IIII" on their sundials and that got carried forward, even after the Roman's changed to using "IV" in their number system.

The Origins of Hours and Minutes *
Information about why we have 24 hours in a day, and 60 minutes in an hour.

In addition, my "Farside Millennium Off the Wall Calendar" entry for Wed. Feb. 9, 2000 says that in "1330 the equal hour is established, dividing the day into 24 equal parts that remain constant regardless of seasons or position on the globe. It is created by monks who need to know what time to start their morning prayers".

On a related note, the same calendar's entry for Friday Feb. 4 says that in 1299 the first mechanical clock appears in Europe. Who would have thought Gary Larson would be such a source of horology knowledge ...

Why is Clockwise Clockwise? *
This is an article discussing why clock hands move the way they do, and not the other way. My theory is that in the northern hemisphere, that's the direction the shadow moves around the centre marker on a sundial.

Ships Clock Bell Strikes *
Information about what time the bell strikes on ship's clocks indicate.

Copyright 1998-2001 Kevin Lowey