The human race has used devices to measure time for thousands of years. The intricate and complex systems we see in modern watches are a result of the humble methods our predecessors discovered. Around the time of 2000BC, the Egyptians relied on shadow obelisks and water clocks, these ideas were later adopted by the Greeks, who used their knowledge of geometry and mathematics to create a more accurate method of timekeeping.
The first universal sun-dial was thought to be designed by the Greek astronomer and mathematician Theodosius of Bithynia, it was an invention that was derived from early Babylonian methods of timekeeping, and became the fundamental basis for how we measure time today.
Around 200 years later, this was adopted and further developed by the Romans. This led to the construction of the 'Solarium Augusti', a monument and sun-dial which stood in the centre of the Campus Martius, the heart of Rome.
Throughout most of the middle ages, the technological advancement of civilization was halted by other issues, and it wasn't until the 14th century that mechanical clocks were introduced.These were first seen in the large towers of Italian cities, they were public clocks which were driven by weight and regulated by primitive verge-and-foliot mechanisms, these were much less reliable than the systems we use today.
One of the most important landmarks for time-keeping was the German locksmith Peter Henlein's invention of the spring powered clock. This system was considerably lighter, and could be developed on a much more compact scale. They only had hour hands, and the spring system meant that the clock would slow down with age, but despite this, they became hugely popular with wealthy individuals, their size allowed them to be placed on a table or shelf as opposed to being hung from a wall.
Galileo Galilei is often credited with the invention of the pendulum clock, however, this design was not put into development until many years after his death. A dutch scientist, Christian Huygens, built the first pendulum clock in 1656, it was capable of keeping time with an error gap of just one minute a day.
The 1920s brought a new age of accurate time-keeping to the public sector. Walter Guyton Cady discovered that silicon dioxide, more commonly known as quartz, could be used to resonate an electro-magnetic source at a stable rate. While originally intended for radio, Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories adopted this method, and designed the first quartz clock in 1927.
It wasn't until the 1960s that the first steps were taken towards the mass-manufacture of quartz wrist watches. Seiko developed the Seiko Crystal Chronometer QC-951, which was a portable clock used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This was followed by the Seiko Quartz Astron, the world's first quartz wrist watch, which was released on the 25th December 1969.
While mechanical watches are still considered to be the pinnacle of design and craftmanship, Quartz has become the 21st century industry standard for portable time-keeping. It is accurate, easy to maintain and portable.