The history of watches began in 16th century Europe, where watches evolved from portable spring-driven clocks, which first appeared in the 15th century. The watch which developed from the 16th century to the mid-20th century was a mechanical device. It was powered by winding a mainspring which turned gears and then moved the hands and kept time with a rotating balance wheel. On this page, we investigate some of the many antique watch manufacturers and makers.
Although from the earliest days until well into the 18th century there were individuals who made complete watches, by the 19th century a division of labour had occurred. Now there were dozens of specialists involved in the making of a watch. The people who controlled the process of ‘finishing’ the watch were called the watchmaker. This is despite the fact that they didn’t make a single component themselves.
The people who made watches rarely sold the watches to the general public. It was high street retailers who sold watches. The retailer didn’t want anyone’s brand other than their own on the face of watches that they sold. This could also include the movement being engraved with the retailer’s name. The terms ‘watchmaker and jeweller’ were commonly used by high street retailers simply as a marketing ploy.
Watch manufacturers and makers
List of watch manufacturers from Wikipedia.