Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- In naval parlance, watches are a timekeeping convention. The term in general use can mean any period of duty or responsibility, such as a hurricane watch.
A watch is a small portable clock that displays the current time and sometimes the current day, date, month and year. In modern times they are usually worn on the wrist, although before the 20th century most were pocket watches, which had covers and were carried separately, often in a pocket, and hooked to a watch chain.
In earlier times mechanical timepieces were used, powered by a spring wound regularly by the user. The invention of "Automatic" or "Self-Winding" watches allowed for a constant winding without special action from the wearer: it works by an irregular weight, called a winding rotor, that rotates to the movement of the wearer's body, automatically winding the watch.
1.1 Pocket Clock
Types of watch
The first necessity for portability in time keeping was navigation and mapping in the 15th century. The latitude could be measured by looking at the stars, but the only way a ship could measure its longitude was by comparing timezones; by comparing the midday time of where they were to the one it should be in Europe, a sailor could know how far he was from home. For that reason, most maps in that time are distorted horizontally but vertically precise.
The first clocks measured time with pendulums, which are useless in boats. The invention of a spring mechanism was crucial for portable clocks. Eventually, miniaturization of these spring-based designs allowed for portable timepieces which worked well even at sea. Aaron Lufkin Dennison founded Waltham Watch Company in 1850, which was the pioneer of the industrial manufacturing by interchangeable parts, the American System of Watch Manufacturing.
The wrist watch was invented by Patek Philippe at the end of the 19th century. It was however considered a woman's accessory. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont, who had difficulty checking the time while in his first aircraft (Dumont was working on the invention of the aeroplane), asked his friend Louis Cartier for a watch he could use more easily. Cartier gave him a leather-band wrist watch from which Dumont never separated. Being a popular figure in Paris, Cartier was soon able to sell these watches to other men.
A complicated watch has one or more functionalities beyond basic time-keeping capabilities; such a functionality is called a complication. Two popular complications are the chronograph complication, which is the ability of the watch movement to function as a stopwatch, and the moonphase complication, which is a display of the lunar phase. Among watch enthusiasts, complicated watches are especially collectible.
Chronographs and chronometers
The similar-sounding terms chronograph and chronometer are often confused, although they mean altogether different things. A chronograph is a type of complication, as explained under the heading "Complicated Watch." A chronometer is a watch or clock whose movement has been tested and certified to operate within a certain standard of accuracy. The concepts are different but not mutually exclusive; a watch can be a chronograph, a chronometer, both, or neither.
The first use of electrical power in watches was as a source of energy to replace the mainspring, and therefore to remove the need for winding. The first battery-powered watch, the Hamilton Electric 500, was released in 1957 by the Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Quartz analogue watch
The quartz analogue watch is an electronic watch that uses a piezoelectric quartz crystal as its timing element, coupled to a mechanical movement that drives the hands. The first prototypes were made by the CEH research laboratory in Switzerland in 1962. The first quartz watch to enter production was the Seiko 35 SQ Astron, which appeared in 1969. There are also several variations of the quartz watch as to what actually powers the movement. There are solar powered, kinetically powered, and battery powered. Solar powered quartz watches are powered by available light. Kinetic powered quartz watches are powered by the motion of the wearer's arm turning a rotating weight, which in turn, turns a generator to supply power. The third and most common power source is the battery. Watch batteries come in many forms, the most common of which are silver oxide and lithium.
Cheaper electronics permitted the popularisation of the digital watch (an electronic watch with a numerical, rather than analogue, display) in the second half of the 20th century. They were seen as the great new thing. Douglas Adams in the introduction of his novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would say that humans were 'so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea'.
The first digital watch, a Pulsar prototype in 1970, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data. A retail version of the Pulsar was put on sale in 1972 It had a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays were soon superseded by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which used less battery power. The first LCD watch with a six-digit LCD was the 1973 Seiko 06LC, although various forms of early LCD watches with a four-digit display were marketed as early as 1972 including the 1972 Gruen Teletime LCD Watch , .
Digital watches have not yet replaced analog watches, despite their greater reliability and lower cost. In fact, because digital watches are so cheap, analog watches are often worn as status symbols. For others, analog watches are just easier to read.
At the end of the 20th century, Swiss watch makers were seeing their sales go down as analog clocks were considered obsolete. They joined forces with designers from many countries to reinvent the Swiss watch.
The result was that they could considerably reduce the pieces and production time of an analog watch. In fact it was so cheap that if a watch broke it would be cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one than to repair it. They founded the Swiss Watch company (Swatch) and called graphic designers to redesign a new annual collection.
This is often used as a case study in design schools to demonstrate the commercial potential of industrial and graphic design.
As miniaturized electronics become cheaper, more and more functionalities have been inserted into watches. Watches have been developed containing calculators, video games, digital cameras, keydrives, and cellular phones. In the early 1980s Seiko marketed a watch with a television receiver in it, although at the time television receivers were too bulky to fit in a wristwatch, and the actual receiver and its power source were in a book-sized box with a cable that ran to the wristwatch. In the early 2000's, a self-contained wristwatch television receiver came on the market, with a strong enough power source to provide one hour of viewing.
Several companies have attempted to develop a computer contained in a WristWatch, including an IBM product that ran Linux and a Fossil product that ran PalmOS (see also wearable computer). As of 2004, the only programmable computer watch to have made it to market is the Seiko Ruputer, although many digital watches come with extremely sophisticated data management software built in.
A recent development is the radio controlled wristwatch or as they are sometimes called "atomic watches". These wristwatches receive a radio signal from the National Institute of Standards and Technology located in Colorado in the United States. This radio signal tells the radio wristwatch exactly what time it is. About 4 times per day a radio wristwatch will check this radio signal and reset itself to the exact time. It will also reset itself when daylight savings time changes. These watches always know what time it is.
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Baume et Mercier
- Elgin Watch Company
- IWC - International Watch Co Schaffhausen
- Invicta Watch Group
- Jaeger Le Coultre
- Patek Philippe
- Raymond Weil
- TAG Heuer
- Ulysse Nardin
- Vacheron Constantin
- Waltham International SA
- Zeno-Watch Basel
- American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute
- How does a watch work? FH, Switzerland
- Chronocentric: "The largest independent, non-commercial, consumer-oriented resource on the Internet for owners, collectors and enthusiasts of fine wristwatches."
- Mechanical Watch FAQ 1.0 from TimeZone.com
- Mister Watch Online: Information on collectible watches.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details