Revolution on Your Wrist
by Carlene Stephens, Amanda Dillon, and Margaret Dennis
Less than thirty years ago, while Sly and the Family Stone were topping the pop music
charts and President Richard Nixon was covertly scheming to win reelection, the
wristwatch was being transformed - from a mechanism of moving parts powered by an
unwinding spring, into a battery-driven electronic computer.
A Timex magazine ad sports faddish new electronic athletic watches clearly aimed at the
There is evidence that, in the
1880s, women in England and
Europe wore small watches set in
leather bands around their wrists,
especially for outdoor activities
such as hunting, horseback
riding and, later, bicycling.
Challenging centuries of analog
timekeeping, battery-driven quartz
wristwatches hit the American marketplace
in the early 1970s, though it seemed
unlikely the expensive, new-fangled
timekeepers would sell. Marketed as the
"Next Big Thing" in cutting-edge
technology, electronic watches, which were
capable of far more precise timekeeping
that mechanical ones, sold surprisingly
well. They soon won over the buying
public. Today, with electronic watches
capable of determining a runners' heart rate
and body temperature, or the time and
place of your next business meeting, the
mechanical watch is nearly extinct.
Dollie, Alice, Margaret and Ella Van
Horn. Lindsborg, Kansas, about 1910:
This photograph reveals not only
womens' clothing fashions of the day,
but two watches, one worn as a pendant,
the other as a brooch.
The Japanese Seiko 35SQ Astron was
the first analog (featuring the traditional
round dial with twelve numerals) quartz
watch to reach the marketplace - going
on sale Chirstmas Day, 1969, in Tokyo.
The wristwatch is a relative newcomer
among timekeepers. The mechanical clock
was invented around A.D. 1300,
somewhere in Western Europe, though no
one knows precisely where or by whom.
Portable cousin to the clock, the spring-