The Evolution of the Wristwatch

Looking at the popularity of wristwatches today, it is hard to believe there was a time when they were considered an accessory specifically for women. This made them taboo for men to wear. Men, at that time, would only utilize and carry pocket watches. However, soldiers fighting in wars did not have minutes or seconds to waste fumbling around for their pocket watches and perhaps even dropping and misplacing their watch during military operations. It was decided that it would be more practical for soldiers to wear their watches on their wrists to have easier access. Over the years, wristwatches became essential for the military, not just in the United States but in Britain and Germany as well.

Several enhancements and improvements were also made to wristwatches worn by the military. The primary purpose was and still is to assist them in battle and provide them with not only the ability to tell time but other life-saving capabilities as well. From soft illumination used to read maps in the dark, to blinking lights used to signal other soldiers, the tactical watch was an incredible asset for soldiers. To ensure that these watches were up to par and made the grade, they had to pass certain guidelines and specifications. They could not be called military watches unless they met these standards and specifications. In the United States, watches had to be MIL-SPEC certified. Britain gave their stamp of approval by engraving a broad arrow on the dial and back of the watch case. In Germany, DH was engraved on the case back to certify that the watch was approved for military use.

By the 1990s, wristwatches that were worn by the military were far more advanced than simply providing a way to tell time. Many upgrades were made from stopwatches, alarms, and calendars, to compasses, and so much more. They were also made to be more rugged and durable, therefore more difficult to break than an average watch. The right watch is a crucial part of a soldier’s gear and often gives them the ability to make split second decisions during life and death tactical operations in the field. Even though soldiers are free to wear watches of their choice, it is a priority for them to ensure that the watches they choose have essential and useful capabilities.

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