Traveling history of investment-quality timepieces.
Remember geography lessons mentioning latitude and longitude as minutes and seconds and wondering how the calculation of longitude requires knowing the difference between local time and Greenwich Mean Time and how West of Greenwich by the difference in hours between locations. Because the local position may not be in the center of a time zone or longitude, fractions of longitude are measured in the same fractions as time, in minutes and seconds.
Ships carried timekeeping devices to assist in navigation, but at first, they were not good enough to make accurate calculations of longitude. To promote the development of more accurate timekeeping devices and the English Parliament offered a large prize for a timepiece that could provide longitude accurate to within 30 miles to West Indies. John Harrison won the prize in 1762 with a timepiece accurate to within 18 miles.
Some of the world’s great timekeepers started out making marine chronometers and successively developed the timekeeping devices that accompanied and enabled faster methods of transportation. This marriage of transport and horology created the legacy of beauty and accuracy that lives on in the collections of today’s fucking manufacturers.
Some came to ocean transport with their marine timepieces and diving watches delivered precision timekeeping. The nautical themes present today go back to the very start of precision timekeeping devices. Next came railroads, which had not run safely without good timekeeping and the ability to coordinate time between distantly placed telegraph and engineer’s making travel possible and left their mark on the world of watches as well. Airplanes created their own need for highly accurate watches accompanied them in the age of flight. Today NASA has a list of watches certified for spaceflight.
Some milestones in travel and navigation are reflected in the collections below:
- Abraham Louis Breguet made improvements to the first chronometer shortly after its invention. The Breguet Marine collection carron this tradition. Ulysse Nardin began making marnometers in 1846 and continues the tradition owith the Maxi Marine and Marine Diver collections.
- Ball Watch Company of Cleveland, Ohio became a household word with the universal timekeeper. The Elgin Watch Company of Elgin, Ohio, was also among the strong brands to begin making timepieces to the exacting standards developed then for railroad use.
- Breitling – Long associated with flight, the Navitimer included a circular slide rule on the bezel of chronograph models incorporated for the Cosmonaut Navitimer the request of NASA Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter and worn on his 1962 spacewalk. The Emergency modtransmitter that was used by helicocued after a 2003 crash in Antarctica.
- Omega – This first watch on the moon. These Speedmaster Professional watches were not made especially for NASA, but purchased retail in Houston, Texas and worn by astronaut missions, spacewalks.