M18242 | Pocket watch

Pocket watch
1850-1860, 19th century
0.6 cm
Gift of Mrs. W. A. Ramsay
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Watch (5)
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This gold pocket watch was made for a woman and dates to the mid-19th century.

In 1500 Peter Henlein, a locksmith in Nuremberg, Germany, invented the mainspring and by 1511 had made the first portable clock. These devices were relatively large and not very accurate. It was not until 1780, with the invention of the hairspring by Breguet in Paris, that timepieces became precise. Pocket watches proliferated in the 19th century, and it was not until the turn of the 20th century that wristwatches began to gain acceptance. In the First World War they proved their usefulness: a man at the front did not need to dig into his pocket to check the time.