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Watches-art - 9/1/99


"Watching Time Go By" by Da`ved Man of Letters, Lord Xaviar the Eccentric.

NOTE: See also the files: bells-msg, clocks-msg, sundials-msg, med-calend-art,  calenders-msg, medieval-tech-msg, A-Gear-o-Time-art.

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                               Thank you,
                                    Mark S. Harris
                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous
                                         stefan at florilegium.org
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                     WATCHING TIME GO BY

                    By Da`ved Man of Letters
                   Lord Xaviar the Eccentric.

     The invention of the mainspring might seem like a minor discovery just being a flat coiled steel band. This is deceiving as the need to know the time of day was begining to rule the workplace around 1500.  Peter Henlein (1480-1542), a locksmith working in Nurnberg, Germany (around 1510), gave birth to one of our most valuable instruments - the watch.  Henlein is often cited as creator of the watch, this is not true.  He was a maker of small table clocks, referred to as the metal drum.

     The word itself derives from the Old English woeccen, meaning to keep vigil, as night watchmen did. The mainspring grew in popularity and became the heart of all timepieces. They even began replacing clocks which were weight driven and cumbersome. This abilty made portable time pieces possible for the first time.  The manufacturing of personal clocks is recorded as begining in Nurnberg, Germany.

     These first oval-shaped watches were called the 'Nuremberg eggs.' The first designs were bulky, up to five inches in diameter and three inches thick.  These timepieces had only a hour hand. The minute hand wasn't added until 1672.  The earliest surviving example is one that was made in 1551 by Jacques de la Garde. His watches sold in Paris though his clockshop was in Loire, France.

     The first watches were more prized as decorative objects and were often encased in porcelain.  The manufacture of watches spread to England and France, and established a new centre in Geneva.  It was here that a Guild formed. This group of French and Italian watchmaker-goldsmiths were mostly religious refugees. The Guild had a rigid system of apprenticeship and closely guarded their trade secrets.

     Servants were often used to carry the watch and announce the time when comanded to do so. The first talking alarm clocks.

                           WORKS CITED

     Landes, D.S.; Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of
     the Modern World;. 1984.

     Loyn, H.R.; The Middle Ages: A Concise Encyclopaedia; Thames
     and Hudson. NY. 1989.

     Panati, Charles; The Browser's Book of Beginnings: Origins
     of Everything under, (and including), the Sun; Houghton
     Mifflin Co. Boston, Ma. 1984.

     Robertson, Patrick; The Book of Firsts; Clarkson N. P)otter,
     Inc.-Crown Pub. NY. 1974.

     Singer, C et al.; A History of Technology, Vol 2. 1956-58.

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Copyright 1996 by Lord Xaviar the Eccentric, <medieval_man_inc at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and is notified by email.

If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.

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Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org