Mention the earliest record that refers to a watch?
In a letter dated 1462 the earliest watch is referred to by Italian clock maker Bartholonew Manfrede. Further references are: Henlein qualified as a master locksmith in 1509, a more likely date for him to have begun his watchmaking activities, and the first certain reference to this branch of his craft dates from 1511. In that year Johannes Cocclaeus, a citizen of Nuremberg, described the innovation in terms that leave little doubt that Henlein was regarded locally as the inventor of the watch :
From day to day more ingenious discoveries are made; for Petrus Hele, [alternative Henlein] a young man, makes things which astonish the most learned mathematicians, for he makes out of a small quantity of iron horologia devised with very many wheels, and these horologia, in any position and without any weight, both indicate and strike for 40 hours, even when they are carried on the breast or in the purse.
This passage has been taken as evidence that the watchmaking industry began in Nuremberg; but even excepting the questionably early allusion to ‘pocket clocks’ in the Manfredi letter of 1462, there are a number of records of watches in France within a few years of the Cocclaeus account. It is possible that the French introduced watches quite independently and at about the same time.
The introduction of watchmaking in Britain cannot be certainly dated. Francis Noway, originally of Brabant, is known to have been working in London between 1580 and 1583 (possibly later) and at least two watches of his workmanship survive. Queen Elizabeth I’s clockmaker, Bartholomew Newsham, who worked at his trade from 1568 until his death in 1593, is also known to have produced a number of watches. The Queen herself owned a `watehe of gold sett with small rubies, small diamondes and small emerodes’ in 1571, but it is probable that this came from the French watchmaking centre of Blois. Nothing more definite can be said about the first native product than that it is likely to have belonged to the period 1575-85. England made up for a late arrival by becoming the leading watchmaking nation of Europe during the first quarter of the 17th century.
Early watches had a single hand only, indicating the hour. With greater precision-work it became possible to add a minute hand, though this is scarcely known before the 1660s. The first watch with a second hand, notable also as one of the earliest examples with a minute hand, was made by John Fitter of Bermondsey.
Jewelled watch movement was patented on I May 1704 by the Swiss geometrician and optician Facio du Duillier and the French watchmaker Peter Debaufre, both of whom were based in London. Debaufre’s first jewelled watch is said to have been worn by Sir Isaac Newton. Jewelling remained rare until after 1825, when the preparing and setting of jewels for watches became a regular industry at La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland.
The first Wristwatch of which there is any record dates from 1790, and is itemized in the accounts of the Swiss watchmakers Jaquet-Droz & Leschot of Geneva as ‘a watch to be fixed on a bracelet’. The earliest surviving example is a gold watch set in a jewelled bracelet encrusted with pearls and emeralds, made by the Parisian jeweller Nitot in 1806.