David's Den - "An Earlier Time"

A Father's Day Gem

By: David Moon • Jun 08, 2012 • 0 Comments

Remember the days when water clocks, sundials, and candle clocks were the instruments used to tell time? Me neither… and I read somewhere that their accuracy was far from achievable. I swear a friend of mine must use one of these forlorn methods because he is predictably late where ever he goes.

In the 13th century, great strides were made when the weight-driven clock was developed.  The hour hand was driven by gears. And if your clock had a minute hand, it was an indication of wealth and luxury. Wealth and luxury because of a minute hand?? Believe it.....IT'S TRUE! I've had hundreds of minute hands though, and I have nothing to show for it except crow's feet. Anyway....

In the 16th century, clocks were produced using springs instead of weights. The portable clocks or “pocket watches” were the first timepieces that the public could own. During this time, the only persons who could afford them were the rich…and owning one, signified status and authority. During this era, the pocket watch was worn around the neck or carried in a pocket. Mechanisms were introduced to bring time-telling precision. Some watches even had alarms (something that friend of mine could use).

The entry of the 17th century made the pocket watch even more desirable. The box-like design was replaced by more rounded and slimmer cases. Clockmakers became instant artists, infusing creative designs and inventive craftsmanship into every pocket watch made.

By the 18th century, jewels were used for bearings, and diamonds adorned some dials. Oil was used for lubrication aiding the fluidity of the movement.  You could now buy a pocket watch with three hands, taking the element of accurate timekeeping to greater heights.

The 19th century was the glory days for the pocket watch. This era brought several well-known watchmakers into the picture. Names such as R. Lannier, LeCoultre & Cie, and Ulysse Nardin, made their mark, and established their presence in the world of quality watch making.

So, perhaps this Father’s Day, take your dad or granddad back to “an earlier time” with that gem they once called a portable clock…the pocket watch. I might just get a pocket watch for that friend of mine too…. the one with an alarm of course.

The "R. Lannier" pocket watch pictured above comes to you from Charles Breuel Antiques and Latique.com