What does the first watch look like?

Today is Watch Wednesday! Why are Watches called “Watches?” The word “watch” comes from the Old English word woecce  which meant “watchman”, because it was used by town watchmen to keep track of their shifts. Another says that the term came from 17th century sailors, who used the new mechanisms to time the length of their shipboard watches  (duty shifts).

Who made the first known watch? I did a little research and discovered that the first ever known watch is this one below made by Philip Melanchthon, around 1530. Isn’t it amazing?

Information about the piece: This is the earliest dated watch known. It is engraved on the bottom: “PHIL[IP]. MELA[NCHTHON]. GOTT. ALEIN. DIE. EHR[E]. 1530” (Philip Melanchthon, to God alone the glory, 1530). There are very few watches existing today that predate 1550; only two dated examples are known–this one from 1530 and another from 1548. There is no watchmaker’s mark, although Nuremberg is considered the birthplace of spherical watches (called “Nuremberg Eggs”). A single winding kept it running for 12 to 16 hours, and it told time to within the nearest half hour. The perforations in the case permitted one to see the time without opening the watch. This watch was commissioned by the great German reformer and humanist Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560).

The piece is gilt on a brass case with gilt on brass dial and it has an iron movement.

[Source: First known watch]

Blog post by: Jelene

 

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