Medieval invention still ticking

Since the early 16th century, watches have been an elegant fashion statement. David Thompson, former Curator of Horology for the British Museum, looks at the history of the watch in a feature  article on the British Museum blog. (photos)

Thompson writes:

Few people probably realise that this innocent machine has a history of more than five hundred years since its first appearance at the beginning of the 16th century in South Germany. At the beginning, and for the first two centuries, watches were inaccurate timekeepers worn as items of fashion or as demonstrations of wealth. Just as today, fashions changed and watches became obsolete unless they were handed down as heirlooms from generation to generation. Then, in about 1660, the pocket in clothing came into existence and the pocket watch became an item of everyday wear.