The rapid advancement in modern technology has brought new possibilities to the watchmaking industry and inspiration to designers. Every year, the Baselworld in Switzerland showcases a distinctive range of innovative timepieces from leading and independent watchmakers, delighting horological enthusiasts with their exquisite designs, groundbreaking mechanical complications and unrivalled artistic creativity. However, it is surprising to know that timepieces in the past were very different from modern creations that comprise hundreds of parts and many complicated processes. In the 13th century, clocks were large and simple mechanical devices installed in churches in Europe to remind the community to pray regularly.
The regular chimes helped people develop a regular routine, increasing productivity and bringing convenience to everyday life. In the 14th and 15th centuries, clock towers erected in city centres in Europe not only told the time, but also became local landmarks and social hubs. As the technology progressed, watchmakers later developed floor clocks and small desk clocks based on the design of clock towers. The industry made great strides in early 16th century as the first pocket watch was invented. The popularisation of time-telling devices facilitated the communication between people and accelerated social development. The success of the European Industrial Revolution in late 18th century further propelled the evolution of horology. Modern wristwatches first appeared in late 19th century and gradually replaced pocket watches as a daily necessity after the World War I in early 20th century.
Today, exquisitely crafted and complicated timepieces cleverly blend personal style and function. While the journey they have been through over the centuries is truly fascinating, the future they are going to unveil is equally exciting.
Timepieces are some of the most important inventions in and remarkable witnesses of human history.