Aug 30

For more than four centuries, tradition, expertise, advanced technology and innovation have allowed the Swiss watch and clock industry to maintain its leadership on the world market. Despite or because of the crises it has endured, it has always managed to overcome the technological, structural and economic challenges placed before it. Its exceptional dynamism and creativity have made it a state-of-the-art industry. The many inventions and world firsts to its name provide particularly flattering and envied examples of its status: first wristwatch, first quartz watch, first water-resistant wristwatch, world’s thinnest wristwatch, world’s smallest wristwatch, most expensive watch, and many more…

The Swiss watch and clock industry appeared in Geneva in the middle of the 16th century. In 1541, the reformer Jean Calvin, by banning the wearing of ornamental objects, in effect forced goldsmiths and other jewellers to turn to a different art: that of watchmaking. By the end of the century, Geneva had already acquired a reputation for excellence and in 1601 the Watchmakers Guild of Geneva was established, the first of its kind in the world.

Peter Henlein

Peter Henlein, a locksmith and craftsman from Nuremberg, Germany, is credited with inventing the world’s first portable clock, which eventually evolved into the modern pocket watch. In the early 16th century, around 1510, Henlein developed a spring-driven mechanism that enabled small clocks to be carried around.

Henlein’s innovation involved miniaturizing clock mechanisms, making them small enough to fit in a portable case. His use of a mainspring, a coiled strip of metal that stores mechanical energy, allowed the clock to function without relying on heavy weights or external power sources. This innovation made it possible for people to carry timepieces with them, revolutionizing timekeeping and changing the way people organized their daily lives.

While the exact details of Henlein’s invention process are not fully documented, his contributions to horology are significant. He played a pivotal role in advancing clockmaking technology and laying the groundwork for the development of portable timepieces, which eventually led to the creation of watches and other forms of modern timekeeping devices.

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