Before watches were invented men would calculate the length of day or night using sundials. They were used in Egypt more than 3500 years ago, and they were useful during the day, but not during the night as then there are no shadows, so the water clock was invented. It consisted of a bucket of water with a small hole that leaked water and that was marked accordingly.
The first mechanical clock was created circa 1200s and it kept evolving through the centuries. The pocket watch dates back to the 17th century and in the 18th century John Harrison invented the marine chronometer.
The first watches made were so expensive and ornate that only wealthy people and monarchs could afford them. They were, however very inaccurate and would vary as much as an hour per day. Even then they were a badge of distinction and wealth.
During the early 20th century people began developing “bracelet watches” or “wristlets”. They were wristwatches for women only, as they were considered jewelry. Later on, the soldiers in WWI saw the benefits of wearing watches in the wrist, and the wristwatch never really went away after that. As a general rule, to reduce friction in the vital parts of a watch, all fine watches must have at least 17 or more jewels. More jewels can be used, but the use of more jewels does not turn a watch into fine timepiece. What makes a watch a fine watch is the attention to every detail in the planning, design, manufacture, assembly and finishing of every part of the watch.
Modern American production methods made it possible for everyone to own a watch, and it is one of the best and most useful gifts you can give and receive. There is a big selection of modern watches and your selection can be based on fashion and practicality.
When you think about it, it is easy and impressive to understand how extraordinary it is to be able to buy a really cheap watch and have it tell time with extreme accuracy. It also makes it even more fantastic to understand what generated the need for the mechanical watches we have available today and how incredible their craftsmanship really is.