A Look at the First Wristwatches in History
While wristwatches did not officially go into serial production until the early 1900s, these watches do have a long and fascinating history. In fact, centuries ago, pocket watches, brooch watches, and other pieces were adapted to be worn on the wrist. Some brands still debate who developed the first wristwatch predominantly made for this purpose.
Historians can confirm that the wristwatch was used on the battlefield in the late 1880s as a safer means for soldiers to read the time and synchronize time without having to pull out their pocket watches. Girard-Perregaux was the first brand to produce large quantities of wristwatches for the German military in the 1880s.
Even earlier, in 1868, Patek Philippe is credited with making an elaborate gold bracelet watch for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. It was designed specifically for use on the wrist and is documented in the Guinness World Records.
Breguet also lays claim to having created a watch specifically for a woman’s wrist — half a century earlier than Patek Philippe. An entry was made in the Breguet archives that states that in response to a commission from the Queen of Naples, dated 8 June 1810, Abraham-Louis Breguet began creating a unique watch for the wrist. The wristwatch, Breguet No. 2639, was completed two and a half years later on December 21, 1812. It featured a gold guilloché oblong-shaped case and was a repeating watch held by a wristlet of twisted hair and gold thread.
Today, the Queen of Naples watch is nowhere to be found, according to Breguet’s official website. No public or private collection lists it on its inventory. Does it still exist? All watch lovers hope that it will one day reappear.