The keeping of time dates to the beginning of civilization. Historians believe that portable sundials were probably developed in Egypt and Mesopotamia before 1500 BC. One of the first actual watches was created in Italy almost 3000 years later, around 1524 AD. But these timepieces were nothing like the watches we've come to know today, and normally had to be wound at least twice a day. Until the early 1800's, all watches were hand-finished. But, during the beginning of the 1800's, Eli Terry developed machines, patterns and techniques that produced clock parts that were exactly alike. This was a huge breakthrough in timekeeping technology, as parts could now be mass-produced and interchanged from one clock to another. This allowed the price of watches and clocks to drop significantly, and consequently they were no longer the exclusive luxury of the wealthy.
As the 20th century progressed, watch advancements accelerated. The first quartz clock, accurate to within 1-2 thousandths of a second per day, was developed in 1928 by W.A. Marrison of Bell Laboratories.
Quartz technology was subsequently adapted for use in wristwatches. In 1952, battery-powered watches became available and very popular. Another great breakthrough in watch-making came in 1967 when the atomic clock was invented. This clock used the oscillations of cesium-133 atoms to tell time that was practically void of any error. During the 1970's, electronic watches with LCD and LED displays were extremely popular as they were highly functional and very inexpensive. Improvements and innovations also centered on the quartz movement, improving batteries and the new atomic watches. By 1998, keeping time was more popular than ever with about 500,000,000 watches sold each year.
Some of the most exciting watch technologies have been developed in the last 10 years. They take advantage of new technologies and materials used in other industries and are incorporated into such incredible innovations like Tissot's touch-screen watches (the T-Touch), Citizen's solar-powered Eco-Drive watches and Seiko's Titanium watches. Each of these and many others continue to expand even the daydreamer's idea of fabulous timepieces. As the years continue to pass, one can only speculate on the unbelievable watches that are going to follow!