The Art of Timekeeping - A history of the watch

Timekeeping has been on a journey for thousands of years and has saw many devices and theories on the best way to track time.  

The ancient Egyptians are credited with revolutionising timekeeping by separating the day into two twelve hour segments. By using large obelisks, many of which are still standing today, they could track the movements of the sun which would give them an indication of which hour of the day it was. They are also credited with developing water clocks which were also adopted by the Persians and Ancient Greeks. 

On the journey through time, many devices have been developed to aid timekeeping with candle clocks, hourglasses and sundials all proving reliable. Over thousands of years, this grew into mantle clocks where people could keep track of time from their own homes but what happened when they went outside? Knowing the time wasn’t nearly as accessible. 


Pocket watches were first recorded in 1510 and were used mainly by men who were out working and doing business, but women needed to know the time too! Pocket watches were regarded as too big and heavy for a lady and would only be kept safe and therefore reliable if they were kept in a pocket. The first recorded wristwatch dates back to 1571, the recipient being Queen Elizabeth I, and this is first described as an ‘arm watch’. 


Over the years, we have improved technology to ensure reliable timekeeping and we have also created some of the most beautiful and practical in history. 

Featured in this auction is a sleek Audemars Piguet wrist watch. The maiden lot, this is cased in eighteen carat white gold upon a black crocodile strap. Estimated at £2000 - £3000, this is a timeless classic that will never go out of fashion. 

Also featured are several gold watches. Lots 811 and 837 are both examples of lady’s gold wrist watches. Gold pocket watches remain popular as ever so if you are looking for something a little more unique, the Watches Auction is the place for you.   

To view the Watches catalogue click here >>

Amy Cameron


McTear’s sells more watches than any other traditional auction house in Scotland in the dedicated watches auctions that take place twice monthly, run concurrently live online on a platform that attracts six million visitors annually from over 120 countries worldwide.

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