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a vintage pocket watch and chain Watches are basically portable clocks that were originally developed in the 16th century, after Peter Henlein invented the mainspring.  They tell the time of day or night and come in all sizes and shapes.  Some watch designs are plain and simple while others are ornate and even jewel-encrusted.  Until the 20th century, watches had analog displays and many clockwork parts; they needed regular winding in order to run.  This type of watch mechanism was the only one available until quartz timepieces were introduced in the 1960s.  Quartz watches are powered by electricity passing through a quartz crystal that vibrates at a precise rate.  During the late 20th century, development of electronic display technologies and miniature electronic components led to the design of watches with digital displays.  These digital watches have an LED or liquid crystal display and no moving parts.

Watches today often combine multiple technologies.  They may include a camera, a computer, a timer, and some type of telecommunication capability, all in one device.  They may be timed via an electronic quartz movement or a radio broadcast.  Batteries, solar power, or even the arm temperature of the wearer can power a watch.  Many watches are waterproof or at least water-resistant.  And, yes, the original mechanical spring design still exists.

At one time, men often carried fob or pocket watches, while women wore watches on a neck chain or attached to a bracelet or brooch.  Wristwatches took a while to become popular for men, but they were eventually issued to military personnel and became standard wear for them.  With all the technology and usages, watches are designed in a myriad of configurations.  They are specialized for pilots or astronauts, military marine users or recreational scuba divers, and for all kinds of professional and amateur sports activities.  There's a team watch for players in every sport and a classy watch design for every fashion model!

For more information about the watchmaking industry, visit the American Watchmakers and Clockmakers Institute website.

Watches in each State and Washington, DC

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About Watch Vendors