Who Invented the Pocket Watch?


 Pocket Watch pic

Pocket Watch
Image: historyofwatch.com

Craig Duling serves as CEO of the San Francisco company Heritage Management Services, Inc., and devotes time to philanthropic endeavors. In addition, Craig Duling has studied and collected antique pocket watches for four decades. He shares his love of pocket watches and their history on his website HeritagePocketWatch.com, where readers will find advice on collecting and appraising watches, as well as articles on their history.

With Smithsonian magazine calling the pocket watch the “first wearable tech game changer” in the world, the importance of the pocket watch to human civilization is readily apparent. The precise origins of the pocket watch may be lost in history, although medieval people were familiar with mechanical clockworks. Renaissance-era portraits show men holding watches of various types suspended from ribbons or chains, in an era where simple mainspring technology flourished.

Some authorities believe the pocket watch was invented by Italian makers in the 15th century. Many others point to Peter Henlein, the Nuremberg watchmaker and creator of a single-hand device early in the 16th century. In any case, both men and women were using portable watches in the 1500s. The earliest models were egg-shaped and bulky, but they were soon replaced by flatter case shapes.

King Charles II of England is said to have popularized the securing of pocket watches by chains. When he introduced the wearing of waistcoats in the late 17th century, he provided men with a fashionable way to carry their pocket watches.


Patek Philippe’s Grand Complications with Astronomical Features

Patek Philippe pic

Patek Philippe
Image: patek.com

In addition to leading Heritage Management Services, Inc., as CEO, Craig Duling focuses much of his efforts in the philanthropic sphere. Also an antique pocket watch collector in his leisure time, Craig Duling maintains the Heritage Pocket Watch site to share his love of classic timepieces. One piece his website highlights is the contemporary Patek Philippe men’s Sky Moon Tourbillon Model 5002P, which features a star chart and is valued at nearly $1.5 million.

The story of Patek Philippe tradition of astronomical complications begins with The Packard grand complication, which was created in 1927 at the behest of James Ward Packard, the maker of the Packard automobile. The watch comprised 10 complications, including a moon phase display, as well as sunrise and sunset times and a celestial chart calibrated to the location of Packard’s mansion in Ohio.

In 1933, Patek Philippe created the Henry Graves supercomplication for one of America’s preeminent bankers. Featuring two dozen complications, the piece still stands as the most complicated pocket watch in history. Among its complications were a Westminster chime minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, and a celestial night sky chart set to Graves’ New York City residence.

Today, the Sky Moon Tourbillon represents Patek Philippe’s most complex wristwatch and features between its two dials a dozen complications, such as retrograde date and perpetual calendar. In addition to its star chart, the watch has an elliptical sky vault that shows the real-time orientation of the visible celestial sky.