The history of the clock: From the sundial to the smartwatch

"Time is a child playing pessaries. The kingdom belongs to this child," the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus once said. From the earliest times man has tried to learn more about the 'kingdom' of time. He wanted to adapt his life and his activities to the rhythm of nature. Over the years, the clock was invented. How from the sundial did we get from the sundial to the smartwatch today? What was the evolution of the most important invention of all time? You will discover it in the following lines.

The first solar clocks

Thousands of years ago, according to historians, a man noticed something remarkable. Once he placed a rod vertically on the ground, its shadow moved on the ground and followed the movement of the sun. This observation was enough for the first sundials to appear in China in 2,679 BC. These were quite cheap and could be easily manufactured. All that was needed to make them was a surface divided into equal parts and a vertical rod that cast its shadow on one of these parts. However, these clocks only worked when the sun was shining.

In Ancient Greece, the first man to attempt to make sundials in 550 BC was Anaximander, a disciple of Thales, according to Diogenes Laertius. After him, Anaximenes perfected the sundial. Anaxagoras created a sundial that was shaped like a tub. The sundial, also called a "shadow clock" as to measure time, we "chase" the shadow of the sun.

The hourglasses

The first hourglasses with water or sand to measure time appeared in Egypt in 1,530 BC. The Egyptians believed that the hourglass was invented by the god Thoth. From the late 5th century BC, hourglasses were used in Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks believed that Hermes was the father of the hourglass as he was the father of astronomy and the divider of time.

For the hourglass, they created a vertical structure that had two communicating spaces. In one of them, people would place water or sand and it would fall into the other communicating space at a fixed interval. The advantage of the hourglass was that it did not need the sun to work.

The plumbing

The aqueduct was the evolution of the hourglass. It was a clock that had a tank with a capacity of 1,000 litres of water. The ancient Greeks filled this tank probably at sunrise, placed a piece of cork as a float and started the clock. The water flowed through a slit in the bottom of the tank. Gradually the tank would empty, the float floating on the surface of the water would descend and change the time on the waterwheel. The most famous water tap of antiquity was the "Tower of Winds" (or "Monument of Andronicus of Cyristus") located in the Ancient Roman Agora of Athens

The hydraulic clock of Ktesivos

In 150 BC, the Alexandrian engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria built an automatic hydraulic clock that was able to operate without interruption and without human intervention. A toothed wheel was used to which some drums and mechanisms were connected. These caused complex movements and gave indications of the time.

Archimedes' clock and Plato's alarm clock

The clock created by Archimedes is particularly well known. This particular clock was not a kind of hourglass but was actually a clock mechanism that used the flow of water, unlike today's spring. Furthermore, in 380 BC Plato created the first alarm clock. That is, he constructed an hourglass of water where at a set time, through the pressure of air, it caused a whistle to sound. He placed this hourglass in the garden of the Academy.

The Roman love of sundials

Also, the knowledge of sundials from the ancient Greeks was transferred to the Romans and they loved this invention. They decorated their houses with sundials and on them they engraved three capital S's, the initial letters of the words "Sine", "Sole" and "Sileo" which meant "Without the Sun I am Silent". In Rome, the first public sundial was installed by Papirius Cursor in 263 BC.

The Timetable of Kyrrestos

Andronikos Kyrrisios built a monument north of the Acropolis of Athens to measure time, combining the inventions of Archimedes and Ktesibius. It was called "Aerides" or "Clock of Kyrristus" and was an octagonal building with a weather vane on top. The engraved rays under the eight embossed winds created a sundial. For cloudy or rainy days, a hydraulic clock was installed inside the building. This particular structure also indicated the seasons of the year.

The portable sundials and how many were rescued

Realising how useful it was to measure time during a journey, the inventors tried to create a portable sundial. Portable sundials were not only used to record the movement of the sun, but also functioned as astronomical instruments so that their owner would know where he was.

Two portable clocks have been rescued. One of them was rescued in Philippi, Macedonia, dated to around 250-350 AD and is a circular object made of copper with three rings inside each other. On them were marked the months and the four cities where time was measured. The second clock was rescued in Samos and was made of brass.

The 725 the first mechanical watch

After years, the "escapement" mechanism was created. The first mechanical clock was made in China in 725 AD by Hsing and Lian Lingh Tsan because of the escapement. It is a device with a toothed wheel that is only allowed to move in one direction in specific steps and not continuously. Unfortunately no one knows the origin of the mechanical clock. Perhaps the first people to use a mechanical clock were some monks in monasteries.

In 1284 the mechanical clock in England's cathedral

These early devices were very heavy, they had an antibar mechanism, but they didn't have indicators. The first large mechanical clock began operating in 1284 in Exeter Cathedral in England. Then, in the 1300s, craftsmen began making many large mechanical clocks with gears to decorate churches, town halls and cathedrals. To tell the time on this device, the sound of a bell was heard. Thus, it was called 'clocca', which means 'bell' in Latin.

1335 AD: The first public clock with one hand

In 1335 AD the first public clock was created that was able to alert people every hour as it had a hand. In 1386 AD such a clock was installed in Salisbury Cathedral. The clock installed two years later, in 1389 AD in Rouen, France, meant every quarter of an hour.

Peter Henlein the inventor of the clock

The first portable clocks were made in 1509 in the German city of Nuremberg by the watchmaker Peter Henlein. He is considered the inventor of the clock. The owners of these watches fastened them to their clothes or wore them with a chain as a necklace. They were made of brass and were very bulky cylindrical boxes in the shape of a drum. They had a timer and a brass cover decorated to protect it.

In the 17th century the placement of clocks in the pockets of the owners

The first table clocks appeared in 1525, followed by wall clocks. The shape of the portable clock, in 1550, took a more rounded form and was called the "Nuremberg egg". From 1610 onwards, glass was used to cover and protect the clock better. In addition, several clocks were made with various shapes, such as animals, stars, etc. In the 17th century, men started to put their watches in their pockets instead of on their necks.

In 1810 the first wristwatch

Opinions are divided on the world's first wristwatch. Some claim it was created for the Queen of Naples Caroline Murat in 1810 by Abraham-Lois Breguet. But Elizabeth I of England received a wristwatch from Robert Dudley in 1571.

When did wristwatches for men become popular

Wristwatches for men became more popular in the late 19th century during the war. In 1880, watchmaker Constant Girard made 2000 wristwatches for naval officers. In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf, along with his brother-in-law Alfred Davis, set up a watch company in London that was later called Rolex.

1923 manufacture of automatic watches and 1927 manufacture of waterproof watches by Rolex

The first automatic watches were created, after several years, in 1923. The Rolex watch company in 1927 produced waterproof wristwatches. To prove the water resistance of its watches, it gave a watch to swimmer Mercedes Gleitze and after ten hours in the water the watch was not damaged. In the 1930s mass production of wristwatches began in the 1930s. The Omega watch company in 1932 created the world's first diving wristwatch.

In 1969 the Japanese Seiko produced electronic wristwatches with quartz

The Japanese watch company Seiko in 1959 began developing the first electric quartz watch movement and ten years later mass produced electronic quartz wristwatches under the name 35 SQ Astron. In the same year, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and wore Omega's Speedmaster watch.

In 1972 the digital wristwatch with LED display appeared

The first digital watch with an LED display appeared in 1972 and was created by Hamilton Watch. Swatch watch company in 1983 introduced the world's first plastic watch and in the same year Casio launched the G-Shock watch. In 1990 the German company Junghans released the first radio-controlled wristwatch. After nine years, titanium and carbon fibre were used to make the watches and in 2000 more materials such as silicon were used to make the case and straps of the watches.

When smartwatches were released and what they are

After the emergence of digital watches, smartwatches followed. These are wireless digital devices that, in addition to measuring time, can function as a mobile phone or a portable music player. Steve Mann developed the first smartwatch in 1998 and launched it in 2000. Samsung released the world's first smartwatch in 1999 under the name SPH-WP10. It had a built-in microphone and speaker, a protruding antenna, an LCD screen and a ninety-minute talk time.

In 2009 the first standalone smartwatch was released and in 2015 children's smartwatches were released

In 2009, the first standalone smartwatch that had its own SIM was released. Apple released its first smartwatch in 2015 and in the same year, China started producing children's smartwatches. Children's smartwatches are made of plastic, show the time and make calls in case of emergencies. In 2016 the company Razer created a watch with two screens.

To conclude, the clock's journey through the years is impressive and very interesting. And it certainly doesn't stop here. With the materials that technology offers us, the watch will continue to evolve, just as we evolve.

Leave a reply

Your email address is not published. Required fields are marked with *

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.