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watch Movements

Movements - History.

In the 15th century, the increase in European sea-going navigation and mapping increased the demand for a portable timepiece, because the only way a ship could measure its longitude was by comparing the midday (high noon) time of the local longitude to that of a European meridian (usually Paris or Greenwich) using the time kept on a shipboard clock. However, the process was notoriously unreliable until the introduction of John Harrison's marine chronometer. For that reason, most maps from the 15th century through the 19th century have precise latitudes but distorted longitudes.

The first reasonably accurate mechanical clocks measured time with simple weighted pendulums, which are unworkable when irregular movement of the fulcrum occur whether at sea or in watches. The invention of a spring mechanism was crucial for portable clocks. In Tudor England, the development of "pocket-clocks" was enabled by the development of reliable springs and escapement mechanisms, which allowed clockmakers to compress a timekeeping device into a small, portable compartment.

In 1524, Peter Henlein created the first pocket watch. Early watches only had an hour hand?a minute hand would have been useless because of the inaccuracy of the watch mechanism. Eventually, miniaturization of these spring-based designs allowed for accurate portable timepieces (marine chronometers) which worked well even at sea. In 1850, Aaron Lufkin Dennison founded Waltham Watch Company, which was the pioneer of the industrial manufacturing of pocket watches with interchangeable parts, the American System of Watch Manufacturing. Breguet developed the first self-winding watch known as the perpetual in 1780.


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