Now as we promised! We won’t begin from the clichéd ‘Once upon a time...’& we already see ourselves successful with that! Without wasting any more time let’s start from the scratch!
Although the time telling era commenced a countless centuries ago,it is said and known that time’s existence on our Planet Earth is as ancient as that of the Humans.
To the Prehistoric man who did not have the luxury of Watches; the Sun, Stars & the Moon were the First Time Tellers! Hence, the prehistoric man solely depended on nature & its course to know about the time of the day.
Unfortunately, these natural courses and planets & moon did not help much as they just indicated a general state of the day like dawn, morning, afternoon, evening & night! Man soon realized the need of knowing the precise time considering the incessant growth of civilization. Thus began the innovation & creation of timepieces that were dependent on this same Sun, Stars & Moon for their time telling!
Innovations in time telling began with the creation of Sun Dials. Soon after evolved were the Hourglass & Water Clock! Read on to get insights on these time tellers working!
Sun Dials: Cheops Pyramids of Gizeh, the Tomb of the King of 4th Dynasty; were the forerunners of the Sun Dials. Egyptians set the time telling trend with the help of Pyramids that were aligned perfectly at four corners of the compass. These four Corners were the North, the South, the East & the West. However, with time & prolonged invention, a more formally structured device called the Sun Dial was assembled to record the succession of the day to night. Sun Dials with their circular disk and marking display are the heralds of the contemporary watches & clocks!
Sun Dials possessed an upright structure upon the circular disk. This upright structure enabled the sun to cast a shadow on the circular disk. The gravity of shadow which was indicated by the markings, determined the approximate time of the day.
Hourglass: The hourglass measured the path of few minutes or even an hour. An hourglass typically is structured with two vertically linked bulbs, facing conversely each other with a small passage neck that emanates a synchronized seep of material (generally sand) from one bulb to another. This hourglass can be inverted again once the bulb is empty to begin timing again. The tenure taken for the trickling of the material is generally the hour measure.
This time teller achieved its name from the conventional historic hour timing. These Hourglasses today are more commonly used as antiques & ornamental showpieces. The hourglass working is often used in egg timers & board games as well.
Water Clocks: Water Clocks are commonly known as Clepsydra. The name Clepsydra was derived from the German words ‘Kleptein’ that stands for ‘to steal’ & ‘Hudor’ that stand for ‘water’. Water Clock measured time by the delimited Inflow or Outflow of Liquid (usually Water) into or from a vessel, wherein the amount then in flowed or outflowed is measured as per standards. The dripping and flow frequency determined the time and the measurement of the collected water in the vessel.
It was in the 1300s that the first steps towards creation of mechanical clocks commenced! Mechanical clocks were empowered by springs & weights. These first creations lacked the essential minute or hour hands. Most of them even lacked a definite dial. Mechanical Clocks indicated time with a strike of a Bell at an hourly interval.
However, due to the arising needs of better timekeeping devices, a new set of timepieces with formerly missing essentials like the hands & dials; were subsequently developed. These mechanical clocks worked due to an escapement installed within them. An Escapement is a lever that axles & interconnects a toothed wheel at definite time intervals. This directing system via the escapement, directs the progression or escape of either the weights or the springs; whichever powers the clock to standardize the velocity at which the gears & wheels of time turned in these mechanical time tellers.
The 1400s saw another groundbreaking invention in time making. It was discovered that coiled springs too could move the springs & weights of the previously evolved mechanical clocks. This was achieved by using the small coiled spring unwinding at a pace directed by an escapement. This discovery attributed prospects for the feasible development of smaller clocks & watches in the near future.
During the 1500s, Peter Henlein, a young locksmith from the quaint old town of Nuremberg; was acclaimed to be the creator of the first ever pocket sized watch. However, there still exists a dispute over attributing Henlein the credit for this invention.
These pocket watches were used highly in the US due to the rise of railroading. However, their bulky nature & inconvenience of checking time as compared to the wristwatches, led to the decline in their popularity.
In the year 1656, the first ever Pendulum Clockwas designed & assembled by the Dutch Scientist Christiaan Huygens.These earlier pendulum clocks erred by less than one minute per day. However, the later ones were pretty accurate considering an error of less than ten seconds per day. Eighteen years post the development of first Pendulum Clock; Huygens developed the compact Spiral balance spring. This spring balanced the wheels of pocket watches, which helped in getting rid of the former time lapse of several hours per day to a meager 10 minutes per day, in the prior pocket watches.
The first wristwatch for men was officially created & designed by Loiuse Cartier in the 1904, although formerly a bracelet wristwatch for women was created by Patek Philippe 1868 as an extended jewelry.
Wristwatches acquired fame at the brink of the World War I, when the men at war felt the need of having timepieces that were compact & lighter as compared to pocket watches. Initially, these wristwatches were a possession amongst the rich & elite, generally men from armed forces or military. The middlemen & the poor did not have access to the now typical must-have wristwatches.
However, with incessant development and growing number of watch brands, Wristwatches soon were available for the masses. Innumerable innovations were introduced in the standard wristwatches by integrating novel features like water resistance, shock resistance, Quartz watches, battery watches, so on & so forth.
For amplified precision & accuracy, Chronometers were designed & built in order to meet prescribed precision standards. Marine Chronometers were evolved first & were used at seas & marine as time standards, in order to read time & determine longitude via celestial navigation. The Chronometers were adapted from these marine chronometers.
Soon after, the development of Quartz Oscillators in 1880 was enabled by Jaques & Pierre Curie on their discovery of piezoelectric properties of crystalline quartz. Walter G. Candy developed the first Quartz Oscillator in 1921. Thereafter, Warren Marrison & J.W. Horton created the first ever Quartz Clock. The first Quartz Wristwatch was developed by Seiko Watches in 1969. This Watch was called Astron. Seiko Astron made it big in the market attributing to its innate precision & affordable cost of production, thereby fast-tracking the Quartz Watches & Clocks trend! In 1949, the first Atomic Clock was developed. Atomic Timekeeping devices were meant to be the most precise & accurate time tellers. Even today watches with atomic timekeeping are said to be the most precise & apt. This same atomic timekeeping function is empowering watches for innumerable renowned brands today like Casio, Oceanus, Citizen & many more.
Wristwatches have made it through innumerable developments & changes. Even today innumerable brands & innovators continue with incessant efforts to develop something novel & innovative in timepieces. With additions & enhancements in designs & exteriors watches are no longer just a time reader. Watches today are a quintessence of our everyday life & our style. They are a statement of fashion, style, sophistication & elegance.
With innumerable brand options existing in the market, versatile varieties of timepieces are available pertaining to everyone’s choice. Let’s just say that there is something for everyone to be spoilt for choices!
P.S. - In case you didn’t notice we didn’t end this glorious story on time with “& they lived happily ever after”. So we deserve some credit, don’t we?!