Evolution of the Watch
“I hear the ticking of the clock……”-thus run the words of a popular song. The ticking of the clock constantly reminds and alerts us of our various duties and errands. The clock is a device invented centuries ago but obviously still in use today. Imagine life without these simple time keeping devices; unless one has a perfect sense of timing, we could all be running late for meetings, work, school….. Undoubtedly, the clock has become a very important gadget in our lives. It might be interesting to note that clocks have been around from as early as 5000 to 6000 years ago. In the Middle East and North Africa clocks were made to supplement calendars in order to manage time. It was only later that people found that they needed to know the time of day and it is believed that, that was when the necessity of a device that would help them keep track of time was felt and so the clock was born.
The beautiful and animated time pieces that we see in homes and on people’s wrists have come a long way. Some of us may wonder what Obelisks are; well these were the earliest clocks in history - the first form of sun clocks. Sometime in 3500 BC , the Egyptians are believed to have tried to formally divide a day into parts like that of our hours today, they built slender, tapering four sided monuments called Obelisks whose moving shadows formed some kind of a sundial which enabled people to determine mornings and afternoons and showed the year’s longest and shortest days. The sun clock then went through a series of improvements and by 30 BC there was a record of 13 different sundial styles in different areas of the globe.
Besides sun clocks, there were water clocks which were later on named clepsydras. These were used to determine the hours at night. Water clocks too evolved from the simple ones to impressive, elaborate mechanized ones some of which rang bells and even opened doors. These clocks failed to be accurate which led people to find better alternatives.
It was not till the first half of the 14th century that large mechanical clocks made their first appearance; they were weight driven and regulated by a verge and folio escapement. Failing to achieve accuracy, these gave way to spring powered clocks. These were smaller, portable, handy and convenient; they could be put on shelves and carried around. In 1656, the first pendulum clock came into being. Regulated by a mechanism with a natural period of oscillation it was better at achieving accuracy. Over the years it was refined and improved to maintain still better accuracy.
The 1920s brought into being the quartz clock the operation of which is based on the piezoelectric property of quartz crystals. Quartz clocks and watches proved to be better and improved timekeepers and the dominated the market only to be surpassed by atomic and digital clocks in performance.
If ever there was an age when no one cared about time, this is an era where every second matters; proceedings in life depend on the marking of every second with precision. Thus the clock has evolved into that valuable technology which we wholly depend upon.
Today, we wear time as an accessory to complement the clothes we wear and the occasions we celebrate. From the classics like Citizen and Omega to designer watches like Tag Heur, Louis Vuitton, Versace and many many more studded with precious stones and gold plated are often the choice to keep track of time.
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