The Timeless Trend: How Wristwatches Commanded the World’s Attention [2024]

Tick-tock, tick-tock… Have you ever wondered when the wristwatch leaped from a mere time-telling gadget to a universal symbol of style and punctuality? Well, you’re about to dive into a tale as intricate as the gears of a Swiss watch. Imagine a world where checking the time meant fishing a clock out of your pocket – inconvenient, right? Now, fasten your watch straps as we wind back the hands of time to reveal when wristwatches became the quintessential accessory.

Table of Contents

  1. Quick Answer
  2. Quick Tips and Facts
  3. The Genesis of Time on Our Wrists
  4. The War-Time Catalyst for Wristwatch Popularity
  5. The Transition from Pocket to Wrist: A Timepiece Revolution
  6. The Innovation of Autonomy: Birth of the Self-Winding Watch
  7. The Wristwatch Ascends: From Utility to Ubiquity
  8. The Evolution of Military Precision: Wristwatches in WWII
  9. The Post-War Era: Wristwatches as a Staple of Modern Life
  10. FAQ
  11. Conclusion
  12. Recommended Links
  13. Reference Links

Quick Answer

In the grand timeline of horology, wristwatches gained mass popularity post-World War I. This was when they transitioned from military utility to civilian fashion. But the seeds were sown earlier, with pioneering designs emerging in the late 19th century. Today, wristwatches are not just timekeepers but a statement of personal style and sophistication.

CHECK PRICE on: Men’s Watches | Women’s Watches

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Wristwatches were first used by the military for their convenience in battle.
  • The first mass-produced wristwatch was ordered by Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany in the 1880s.
  • Rolex’s “Oyster” model, introduced in 1926, was the world’s first waterproof wristwatch.
  • ❌ Pocket watches were not as practical in combat situations, leading to the rise of wristwatches.

The Genesis of Time on Our Wrists

Before wristwatches became the norm, pocket watches reigned supreme. However, the inconvenience of pocket watches in certain situations sparked the innovation of wristwatches. The first wristwatches were essentially pocket watches with straps, worn by women as jewelry. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that they began to be recognized for their practicality in more active scenarios.

The War-Time Catalyst for Wristwatch Popularity

The true turning point for wristwatches came with the outbreak of World War I. Soldiers needed a quick and efficient way to tell time without hindering their capabilities, leading to the widespread adoption of wristwatches. Brands like Hamilton began producing military watches in 1912, setting the stage for the wristwatch’s rise to prominence.

The Transition from Pocket to Wrist: A Timepiece Revolution

As the world moved into the 20th century, the wristwatch began to overshadow the pocket watch. Seiko’s “Laurel”, released in 1913, marked Japan’s entry into the wristwatch market. Meanwhile, Rolex was busy waterproofing time with their “Oyster” model. This era marked a significant shift in public perception, as wristwatches became associated with modernity and progress.

The Innovation of Autonomy: Birth of the Self-Winding Watch

The self-winding wristwatch, a marvel of ingenuity, was developed by John Harwood in 1924. Rolex took this concept further with the “Perpetual” in 1931, introducing a self-winding mechanism that’s still used today. This innovation made wristwatches even more convenient and desirable.

The Wristwatch Ascends: From Utility to Ubiquity

By the 1930s, wristwatches were not just tools but fashion statements. The production of wristwatches began to outpace that of pocket watches, reflecting a global trend. This period solidified the wristwatch’s status as a standard personal accessory.

The Evolution of Military Precision: Wristwatches in WWII

World War II demanded more from wristwatches, leading to the development of specialized features like diver’s watches and chronographs. Brands like Omega and Longines were at the forefront of these technical advancements, creating watches that could withstand the rigors of war.

The Post-War Era: Wristwatches as a Staple of Modern Life

After the war, wristwatches continued to evolve, becoming an integral part of daily life. The market saw a steady release of convenient features, transforming wristwatches into the indispensable accessories we know today.


When did wrist watches become fashionable?

Wristwatches became fashionable in the 1920s, as they were embraced by both men and women for their convenience and style.

Did people wear wrist watches in the 1920s?

Yes, wristwatches were widely worn in the 1920s, especially after their use in World War I highlighted their practicality.

When did people start using watch?

The use of watches dates back to the 16th century, but wristwatches specifically gained popularity in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

When did wristwatches replace pocket watches?

Wristwatches began to replace pocket watches in the 1920s and 1930s, as they became more fashionable and practical for everyday use.


Wristwatches have come a long way from their humble beginnings to become a staple of modern life. They’ve evolved from simple time-telling instruments to complex pieces of technology and fashion. Whether you’re a collector or just looking for a reliable timepiece, the history of wristwatches is a testament to human ingenuity and style.

CHECK PRICE on: Vintage Wristwatches | Modern Wristwatches

For a deeper dive into the history and evolution of wristwatches, check out the Seiko Museum and our own comprehensive guide at Watch Brands™.

Review Team
Review Team

The Popular Brands Review Team is a collective of seasoned professionals boasting an extensive and varied portfolio in the field of product evaluation. Composed of experts with specialties across a myriad of industries, the team’s collective experience spans across numerous decades, allowing them a unique depth and breadth of understanding when it comes to reviewing different brands and products.

Leaders in their respective fields, the team's expertise ranges from technology and electronics to fashion, luxury goods, outdoor and sports equipment, and even food and beverages. Their years of dedication and acute understanding of their sectors have given them an uncanny ability to discern the most subtle nuances of product design, functionality, and overall quality.

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