The History of Watches
At Oxbridge Watches, we are rather proud of our heritage. A combination of RAF precision, Cambridge University elegance combined with the enviable lineage of Bremont Watches; creates a truly heady mix manifesting in the form of stunning, exclusive timepieces to wear with pride.
While we almost take watches for granted these days, it’s been a relatively short period of time since we have been able to wear them in any kind of format – let alone on our wrists.
The ancestry of watches goes back to the 16th century when they evolved in Europe from portable clocks; the likes of which had only emerged the century before. By today’s standards, they were rudimentary offerings, unlike the luxury watches offered by Oxbridge Watches.
The first wristwatches to appear in the 16th century were mechanical devices driven by a mainspring winding, which turned gears and moved the hands. Watches as we know them now truly evolved in the late 20th century with the invention of the quartz watch in the 60s.
The 80s saw quartz watches take over the market from mechanical watches, an event referred to as the "quartz crisis". While many of today’s watches have quartz movements, the higher end of the market, such as Bremont, still offers quality, mechanical timepieces.
The first timepieces worn as an accessory were made in the 16th century and were very much a cross between clocks and watches in size. Peter Henlein – a German clockmaker - was one of the first craftsmen who made "clock-watches", which were worn as pendants and were the first timepieces to be worn on the body.
Some say the world's first wristwatch was created for the Queen of Naples, in 1810; yet England’s own Queen Elizabeth I received a wristwatch from Robert Dudley in 1571, described as an arm watch. By the mid-19th century, most watchmakers produced a range of wristwatches, often marketed as bracelets.
It is therefore not so surprising to learn that wristwatches were almost exclusively worn by women at first, whilst men favoured pocket watches until the early 20th century.
Finally, with the need of accuracy in timekeeping when synchronising war manoeuvres without signalling, military men began to wear watches towards the end of the nineteenth century. Using pocket watches whilst in battle on horseback was out of the question, so officers began to strap the watches to their wrist. And so began a love affair.
A 'Watch Wristlet' design was finally patented in 1893 by The Garstin Company of London, signalling a market for men's wristwatches coming into being at the time. Bremont came to be in in 2002 and launched their first luxury watch collection 5 years later.
Bremont now focuses purely on beautifully made mechanical movements in their watches. Each one is finished to the highest levels of craftsmanship, which is why Oxbridge Watches is proud to work with them and our bid to bring truly exclusive, officially licensed University of Cambridge and Oxford University timepieces for alumni, students and staff.