International Women's Day: The wristwatch and the woman who invented it.
Expensive wristwatches, with their complications, their technology and their advertised images of flying, racing driving or diving. are traditionally seen as a man's accessory. Like cars and property they are viewed as symbols of status and wealth.
But did you know that we have a woman to thank for the wrist watch? It was invented by a woman over 200 years ago. Caroline Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte's sister and Queen of Naples, commissioned a watch from Abraham-Louis Breguet specifying that, instead of being the usual pocket watch, it should be small, slender, and mounted on a wristlet in gold thread.
It took Breguet two years' work, involving 17 craftsmen, to complete the piece, but in the end, the oval watch, the first wristwatch in the world, was delivered on 21 December 1812.
Bejewelled wristwatches caught on in royal and aristocratic circles in the mid to late 1800s, but only with women. They were very expensive, custom made bracelets that were barely functional as watches. It’s thought that Queen Elizabeth I did so and Queen Marie Antoinette commissioned a diamond ‘bracelet watch’.