Whether you are mechanically minded and appreciate the art of tiny gears moving in perfect rhythm together, or you love digital technology and all its possibilities, watch design is an exciting topic. The first watches evolved from the idea of carrying around a portable clock. Men often wore them in their pockets (pocket watches), and women often wore them on their wrists (wrist watches). It wasn’t until World War I (1914-1918) that the technology of wristwatches became more accurate and reliable. Wristwatches quickly became popular as they were more convenient to wear as an armband. The first automatic movement wristwatch was invented in 1923 by John Harwood in Switzerland. Quartz watches, created in 1969, made watches more affordable and accurate. The design of Quartz watches was the first to be mass-produced. In 1972, the watchmakers designed the first digital watch to replace analog timepieces. Digital watches became increasingly like mini-computers over time, and by 2014, the first Apple Smart Watch had come out.
Activity 1 – Mechanics in Motion
Watch this animation from Animagraffs on how a mechanical watch processes time changes, and you’ll be mesmerized by how all the moving parts work together in perfect time. Diagram some parts you learned about and label them. 1. Mainspring 2. Wheel train 3. Escapement 4. Balance wheel 5. Crown 6. Jewel bearings 7. Hands
Activity 2 – You've Got the Power!
Some watches have batteries that keep them running, but other watches, called Automatic Movement Watches, use the movement of your wrist throughout the day to power the watch. An automatic watch has a rotor (metal weight) in the back, which moves freely within the case. When the wearer moves their wrist, the rotor spins and the motion transfers to the energy that winds the mainspring in the watch. This type of watch doesn’t need winding like battery-powered watches to keep it accurately telling time if the person wears it daily. This type of watch, invented in the 1770s, still has people using its technology today. Brainstorm a list or draw pictures of other wearable technologies powered by movement.
Activity 3 – Watches As Fashion
Watches come in all shapes and sizes. The design trends often follow clothing fashion trends. Watch bands can be metal chains linked together, metal mesh, leather, rubber, fabric, you name it! Different watch materials send another message about your sense of fashion. A plain leather band might be a more modest look, whereas a metal watch with diamonds says, “Look at me!”. A big, chunky watch evokes strength and durability. A small, dainty watch looks more like jewelry and adds interest to your outfit. Imagine you’re a watch designer! Find photos of 5 people with unique styles; they could be your family, friends, or famous people. Design watches that would suit their style. Draw and cut them out of paper. Put them on your wrist so you can see the scale of the band and clock face compared to your wrist.
Now design one for yourself!
Activity 4 – Digital and Smart Watches
Depending on the types of sensors inside the Smart Watch, they can tell you your heart rate, sleeping habits, if you have fallen, or how many steps you’ve taken today. If the core function of the device is to tell time, but it doesn’t rely on the wearer reading a conventional clock, how else can it tell you the time? It could use digital numbers. It could spell out the numbers, say the time out loud, or fill the dial with a color as the hour goes by like an hourglass. Brainstorm some other ideas and sketch them out!