Around the time the explorer Christopher Columbus dies, the German craftsman Peter Henlein develops the first mechanical watch when he encloses a timekeeping movement in an egg-shaped iron casing.
Capt. John Smith is improsoned and saved by Pocahontas, daughter of a Powhatan chief. The watchmaking profession, in its seventh year of regulation, flourishes due to an abundance of skilled labor. Master craftsman settled in outer areas that are today known for their watchmaking skills: Neuchatel, Bern, Basel, and the Jura Mountain region.
King Philip’s War between New Englanders and five Indian tribes. The Dutchman Christiaan Huygens develops the balance of hair spring for mechanical watches, making them accurate to within minutes per day.
The U.S. Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes flag and endorses the Articles of Confederation. Abraham-Louis Perrelet invents the perpetual or automatic watch, considered the forerunner of the self-winding watch.
Congress establishes the court of appeals. Abraham-Louis Breguet develops the perpetual date calendar.
Thomas Jefferson is elected President. He invents a whole new philosophy in government. Abraham-Louis Breguet invents the tourbillion.
Julius Robert von Mayer states the law of conservation of energy. Adrien Philippe (co-founder of Patek Philippe) invents the stem-winding system, launching complicated watch production such as perpetual calendars and chronographs, which are still popular today.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry opens trade with Japan. Tissot develops the first watch with two time zones.
The Home Insurance Building of Chicago is built – the world’s first skicraper. Girard-Perregaux develops its famous tourbillion with three bridges.
Immigrants begin landing at Ellis Island in New York City. Hamilton Watch Co. is founded.
The first Tournament of Roses football game (later known as the Rose Bowl) is held. The first Omega wristwatch is produced.
The Wright Brothers take off from Kitty Hawk, N.C., on the first powered flight. Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils the world’s flattest pocket-watch caliber. The 1.38-mm-high movement still holds that record.
Robert Frost publishes his first book of poems, North of Boston. Rolex obtains the first chronometer certificate awarded to a wristwatch. The certificate assured that the watch survived testing under extremely adverse conditions.
President Woodrow Wilson nearly declares war with Mexico over the arrests of American sailors in Tampico, Mexico. Eterna makes the first alarm wristwatch.
Ford Motor Company produces its ten-millionth automobile. Audemars Piguet introduces the first wristwatches with full perpetual calendar and moon-phase display.
Charles Lindbergh completes his historic transatlantic flight. Lindbergh designs a watch for Longines.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, promising a “New Deal” for Americans, wins the first of his four presidential elections. Jaeger-LeCoultre launches its famous Reverso watch.
Germany surrenders on May 7, ending the war in Europe. Japan signs the surrender treaty on September 2, ending World War II. Rolex’s famous Datejust watch becomes the first wristwatch with a date display on the watch face.
Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson breaks the color line in baseball and inspires generations of African-Americans. The American Nathan George Horwitt designs the inspired Museum dial, later patented by Movado.
The first transatlantic telephone cable begins operating and opens worldwide lines of communication. In a television ad, Timex unveils the “It Takes A Licking and Keeps On Ticking” credo that would become the most famous advertising slogan the watch world has seen.
The first underground atomic test is conducted in Nevada Hamilton Watch Company introduces the world’s first electric watch, the Ventura.
Millions of Americans tune in as John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon hold the first-ever televised presidential campaign debates. Bulova launches Accutron, the electronic tuning-fork wristwatch invented by Max Hetzel.
The threat of nuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis is averted. Rado unviels the world’s first scratch-resistant watch.
In American hundreds of thousands of antiwar protester march on Washington nearly two weeks after the 500th U.S. plane is shot down over North Vietnam. In Switzerland, ETA produces the world’s first quartz watches.
U.S. astronauts reach the moon’s surface. Omega is the first watch on the moon. Seiko brings the first quartz watch to the market.
Diane Crump is the first woman jockey in the Kentucky Derby. The world’s first electronic digital watch is introduced by Hamilton.
Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter celebrates the U.S. bicentennial with a presidential election victory. Franchi-Menotti is elected the official watch supplier to the Italian armed forces, including the Marina Militare Italiana (the Italian Navy) and the Tri Colore (the Italian Air Force’s equivalent of the U.S. Blue Angels).
John Lennon is shot in New York City. Concord Watch Company introduces its Delirium wristwatch – at 0.0385 inches thick, it’s the thinnest in the world.
The federal budget deficit exceeds $100 billion per year for first time. Corum introduces its current Admiral’s Cup watch line.
President Ronald Reagan launches a preemtive strike by ordering the invasion of Grenada and its Cuban-backed regime. SMH launches Swatch and creates the fashion watch market. Fossil, Guess, and Anne Klein fashion watch brands would soon follow.
President Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev hold their first summit meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Tag Heuer first appears on the market.
The Exxon Valdez supertanker spills over 11 million gallons of oil off Alaska’s coast. Patek Philippe fetches $2.7 million at auction for its Calibre 89 (grand total with commission and fees: $3.2 million). The world’s most complicated pocket watch at the time, it took nine years to create.
The Rodney King verdict shakes up Los Angeles and other U.S. cities with riots. Seiko shakes up the watch industry again – this time with Kinetic quartz watches, which require no batteries and are powered by the movement of the wrist. Timex brightens the fasion watch world with Indiglo watches.
The World Series is canceled following the longest labor strike in professional sports history. Piaget commemorates its 120th anniversary with Le Grand Anniversaire, a one-of-a-kind 18-karat-gold pocket watch with 587 diamonds (27.03 carats).
New Zealand wins the America’s Cup. The race is timed by the Omega Seamaster.
The President, fresh from his election victory celebration, gets down to business at the White House. Cartier gets down to the business of celebrating its 150th anniversary in grand style.