It’s mostly just assumed that a watch should be worn on the wrist, but when was the last time you thought about how it got there in the first place? 

It’s a perfect solution. A moderately sized watch is unobtrusive when worn on the wrist, and it’s easy to position it to view the time. It fades into the background when we don’t need it, but it’s immediately available when we do. It’s just about as good a solution as possible.

And those attributes are exactly what made it the ideal solution for soldiers in WWI, the first major historical event where timekeeping migrated from the pocket watch to the wrist. The trend reportedly started during the Boer War, when Britain marched on the Boer states of the Republic of Transvaal and The Orange Free State. 

The reasoning behind the wrist-mounted convention was simple: it freed up one hand that would normally be used to operate a pocket watch. When WWI rolled around, the functional benefits of the wristwatch had turned it into a trend. And it didn’t stay on the battlefield – instead it became a fashion statement in the civilian world as well. Prior to the advent of the war it was typically only ladies who wore wristwatches, but now they were symbols of masculinity and bravado, reflecting the spirit of a soldier.

Read more about how World War I changed watches forever on the Bloomberg website  HERE

About the author