How World War I Led to the Apple WatchBreaking News
tags: WW I, Apple Watch, wristwatches
While some credit Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet with designing the first wristwatch in 1810 for Caroline Murat, the younger sister of Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen of Naples, others give the nod to Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Patek Philippe, which developed one for Hungary’s Countess Koscowicz based on an 1868 design. Regardless of the wristwatch’s origins, 19th-century society primarily viewed “bracelet watches” and “wristlets” as dainty, jewel-encrusted baubles to be worn strictly by women for fashion, not practicality.
Into the 1900s, men continued to rely on pocket watches to keep time, although leaders in several countries began to see the wristwatch’s military advantages. In 1880, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm I ordered 2,000 wristwatches from Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux to assist his naval officers in timing bombardments. The timepieces were also given to a number of soldiers fighting in the Boer War and the Spanish-American War, but at the dawn of the 20th century, wristwatches continued to be seen as “girlish” novelties as impractical as ankle watches.
Fashionable dandies with portable timepieces on their arms were belittled as “wrist-watch boys” while the tried-and-true pocket watch remained the masculine convention. “The fellow who wears a wrist-watch is frequently suspected of having lace on his lingerie, and of braiding his hair at night,” reported the Albuquerque Journal in May 1914. A New Orleans theater in 1916 assured audiences that the main character in one of its plays was not “portrayed by a wrist-watch, screen actor dude, but by a man’s man.”
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