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Brief History of the 'Wrist Watch'
The concept of the wristwatch goes back to the production of the very earliest watches in the 16th century. Elizabeth I received a wristwatch from Sir Robert Dudley in 1571, described then as an arm watch. From the beginning, wristwatches were almost exclusively worn by women, while men used pocketwatches up until the early 20th century. This was not just a matter of fashion or prejudice as watches of the time were prone to fouling from exposure to the elements, and could only reliably be kept safe from harm if carried securely in the pocket, defeating the point of having a wrist watch in the first place. By the mid nineteenth century, most watchmakers produced ranges of wristwatches, but were often marketed as bracelets for women as men still used pocket watches attached to their waistcoats.
Wristwatches were first worn by military men towards the end of the nineteenth century however due to the importance of synchronizing maneuvres during war without potentially revealing the plan to the enemy through signalling that was increasingly recognized. It was clear that using pocket watches while in the heat of battle or while mounted on a horse was impractical, so officers began to strap the watches to their wrist, it was this sudden change that made it socially acceptable for men to wear watches on their wrists.
The Garstin Company of London patented a 'Watch Wristlet' design in 1893, although they were probably producing similar designs from the 1880s. Clearly, a market for men's wristwatches was coming into being at the time. Officers in the British Army began using wristwatches during colonial military campaigns in the 1880s, such as during the Anglo-Burma War of 1885.
With wrist watches now becoming essential to men as well as fashion accessories to women, it was from this point that the world began taking time in their hands.