Who invented the wristwatch?

Who invented the wristwatch?

Who invented the wristwatch?

Who invented the wheel? This might have been a relevant question in the prehistoric era but, over the years, the answers to such questions just get more and more complicated. For example, which car is the “people’s car”? Is it Henry Ford’s Model T, or is it Volkswagen’s beetle?

In the world of consumer electronics, the question of technological precedence is almost irrelevant. The spotlight shines on the one who comes up with the “popular” model, based on a combination of cost vs. function, marketing, timing, and so on.

It was Apple who, over the past half a decade, have time and again achieved this position, even though – on the technological level – they weren’t the first to “invent the wheel.” This is true of the smartphone and the iPhone, tablet computers and the iPad, and in the near future it will also be true of the watch you are wearing on your wrist.

If we are talking about “wearable computing,” this was actually invented (for the first time) in the 16th century. However, the concept was reinvigorated more recently in the form of Google Glass. Incidentally, the U.S. Army’s flagship project in this area, Land Warrior, which makes use of this technology to create the infantryman of the future, was suspended in 2007, and only revived about a year later, in 2008.

But it appears that it is the “upgraded” wristwatch that will actually get a significant technological leap forward. More importantly, it will also achieve public approval, or – in other words – become a “popular” product.

The first steps in this direction were taken this year by Pebble, which obtained funding from over 68 thousand people, and became the project that raised the largest sum of money ever through the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.

The watch has an e-ink screen for low power usage, Bluetooth for connecting with an iPhone or Android device, and, of course, applications.

But, so it seems, Apple too is not sitting idle. The company is working on its own wristwatch. According to well-sourced rumors, over 100 designers, headed by Sir Jonathan Ive, are working on the iWatch, which will have some new innovations, but whose launch date is already scheduled for this year.

The missing link is provided by Microsoft, which seems to have been responding somewhat slowly in recent years, but which – according to the Wall Street Journal – is also entering the “wristwatch wars.”

What is interesting is that, in 2004, as part of its Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT), Microsoft had already launched a smart wristwatch, which made use of the FM spectrum to receive updates about the weather, news, and so on. At that time, companies such as Swatch, Tissot, Fossil, and others also launched watches that supported the technology. Four years previously, it was IBM who, in 2000, along with Citizen, launched the WatchPad, based on Linux.

So, which company will be the one to (re)invent the first smart wristwatch?