Watchmaking Timeline

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A timeline of important watchmaking events.


15th Century – Portable timepieces were made possible by the invention of the mainspring.

16th Century – Nuremberg clockmaker Peter Henlein (1485-1542) is often credited as the inventor of the watch.

1657 – The addition of the balance spring to the balance wheel, an invention disputed both at the time and ever since between Robert Hooke and Christiaan Huygens.

1735 – Blancpain was founded by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in Villeret, Switzerland.

1755 – Vacheron Constantin was founded by Jean-Marc Vacheron in Geneva, Switzerland.

1759 – The lever escapement was invented by Thomas Mudge.

1760 – The going barrel was invented by Jean-Antoine Lépine.

1770 – The first self-winding mechanism was invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet.

1775 – Breguet was founded in by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris, France.

1790 – Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the “pare-chute” anti-shock device.

1794 – Abraham-Louis Breguet invented a retrograde display mechanism.

1795 – Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon escapement (patented in 1801).

1795 – Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the Breguet spiral (flat spiral balance spring with overcoil).

1810 – Abraham-Louis Breguet created a wristwatch for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples.

1816 – The first modern chronograph was invented by Louis Moinet.

1832 – Longines was founded by Auguste Agassiz.

1833 – Jaeger-LeCoultre was founded by Antoine LeCoultre in Le Sentier, Switzerland.

1839 – Patek Philippe SA was founded in Geneva.

1847 – Cartier was founded by Louis-François Cartier in Paris in 1847.

1848 – Omega was founded by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds (incorporating the name “Omega” in 1903).

1851 – Aaron Lufkin Dennison started a factory in 1851 in Massachusetts that used interchangeable parts, it eventually became Waltham Watch Company.

1860 – Founded by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland.

1865 – Zenith SA was founded by Georges Favre-Jacot in Le Locle, Switzerland.

1868 – The first Patek Philippe wristwatch was created.

1868 – American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones founded IWC.

1875 – Audemars-Piguet was founded in 1875 by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet in Le Brassus.

1881 – Seiko was founded by Kintarō Hattori in Tokyo, Japan.

1884 – Lemania was founded by Alfred Lugrin in Switzerland in 1884.

1884 – Breitling was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling in Saint-Imier.

1904 – Louis Cartier created a flat wristwatch for Alberto Santos-Dumont after his friend complained about the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying. The “Santos” watch was Cartier’s first men’s wristwatch.


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