It's About Time: 4 Historical Events Shaped by Watches and Timekeeping
Time is a crucial part of the historical events that have shaped the world we live in today. From human exploration to world war, time is at the center of our shared history. And so are timekeeping and watches!
As you'll see, the ability to accurately keep time has had a profound impact on the progress of history. Keep reading to learn about four historical events where watches and timekeeping played a pivotal role.
The Role of Watches in 4 Historical Events
1. The Age of Exploration
Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, as the globe was being explored and new lands "discovered", accurate timekeeping played a central role.
Portable timepieces like marine chronometers changed the game for maritime travel. The ability to track time made traveling by sea safer and more efficient.
And this improvement was not just because sailors knew the time. In addition to understanding what time of day it was, the knowledge of time allowed sailors to calculate their longitude and understand distance traveled.
This breakthrough enabled new trade routes and increased the probability of success for exploratory expeditions.
2. The Industrial Revolution
During the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, timekeeping once again played an important role.
As factories were built and mass production became more and more important to the functioning of our society, the punctuality of workers became paramount. Precise and affordable timekeeping (such as pocket watches) effectively kept these factories running.
Later, in 1938, the United States Congress would pass the Fair Labor Standards Act which capped workweeks at 44 hours. The 40-hour workweek was part of an amendment to that act which passed in 1940.
3. Both World Wars
Time was an important piece during two of the most horrific periods of human history: the 20th century's two World Wars.
Before World War I, for example, wristwatches were considered to be a very feminine accessory. Men generally went for pocket watches over wristwatches.
During World War I, however, as military operations became larger and more complex than in previous wars, time synchronization became essential. It wasn't long before soldiers began to view wristwatches as a necessary accessory for deployment.
Watchmakers took notice and began creating more wristwatches specifically for men (called "Field Watches"), a trend that eventually took hold of the rest of society. The need for soldiers to be able to accurately track time to be synchronized across massive fronts basically helped create the world of modern watches.
Read our post on "what is a field watch" to learn more about this particular piece of watch history.
4. The Space Age
As we all know, human history isn't only about land and sea. We've also sent more than a few people to space!
And, you guessed it, time was (and still is) very important.
From wristwatches outfitted specifically for astronauts, to precise timekeeping at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, accurately tracking time has helped humans achieve the impossible.
In space, where time perception can be distorted because of the removal of normal day-night cycles, astronauts rely on watches to survive the extreme conditions.
Additionally, keeping track of time is important for astronauts as they execute space missions, coordinate with each other and home base, and perform emergency procedures.
Watches in History Conclusion
Watches are and always have been much more than just fashion accessories. Sure, we love wearing watches that look good and express something about who we are.
But our love for watches is deeper than that and their role in history is worth remembering. From the good to the bad of human history, timekeeping has played a central role. And it always will.