Who Invented Watches? Peter Henlein’s Portable Watch Vs. Clocks Of Africa

Who Invented Watches? Peter Henlein’s Portable Watch Vs. Clocks Of Africa

t1 tact watch buckled

Take a good look at your wristwatch. Unbuckle it, turn it around, and if you can open it, please do so. What do you see? For those with mechanical watches, it's expected that you see the clock's hands turning every passing second, minute, and hour. On the back, you will notice a few moving parts, and if everything is dead quiet, you can hear the unforgettable tick-tock sound!

Unfortunately, if you have a smartwatch, you may not be able to see all these, but please keep reading, this still concerns you.

Now, put your watch down and do the same for your wall clock and any other device that explicitly tells you time.

As you were looking through all that, did you ever stop to wonder,' whoever thought of this kind of invention? How and why they came to bring such a piece to life? Wasn't looking at the sun and shadows enough?

Well, if you want to learn all that and more, today is the day you learn. So without any further ado, let's start with who invented watches, but first, let's look at the elements of a watch.

parts of watch

Elements Of A Clock



A Regular, Constant Action

Time is presumed to be a cycle that repeats itself; hence a clock must have a regular, constant process that marks several stages of time during the day and night. These movements were deemed repetitive as the sun moved the same all day and night, the clouds and the shadows too.

A Way Of Keeping Track

When the day proceeds from morning to evening, a clock has to show this by displaying the result. Sun watches used shadows while today's pieces display numbers. That is why it is easy to tell someone that it is, for instance, quarter past nine, so on and so forth.

first watch made

Who Was The Person Behind The Portable Watch

What we have today is nothing structurally similar to what the first watch ever made looked like. Before, watches were worn as attachments to clothes and carried in the pocket as opposed to being strapped on our wrists. But does that mean that before the portable one came along, people did not tell time? No, instead, what was available was stationary and bulky and was cumbersome to carry around.

To fully understand the whole watch history, we first have to go several hundred years ago and make a stop in the 15th century. Here we meet a man by the name Peter Henlein who was a locksmith and clockmaker by profession. Peter Henlein invented the first portable watch. He crafted pieces that were also ornamental. These were called the pomander watches and were regarded as the first watches to tell time.

What Were Watches Used For Back Then?

Apart from being ornamental, watches also had significant uses. Back then, people used nature to find their way around, as well as tell time.

A Navigation Tool

Explorers, for one, needed time to navigate the sea. They used the stars to tell of the latitude, and time was a significant factor for the longitude. If their readings were off by just a minute, that would mean that they were 28 kilometers off course. And this would mean getting lost at sea.


As A Calculation Gadget

There was one kind of gadget known as the equation clock, that made calculation easier when it came to measuring the apparent solar time. Several others allowed mathematicians, scientists, explorers, numerologists, and astronomers to do a few of their calculations.

Lastly, they did tell time!

Back to blog