Probably the first recorded device that measured time with any degree of accuracy was the calibrated wax candle, although other devices, such as the sun dial, were in use thousands of years BC.
What is certain is that man has always strived to find ways to accurately measure time.
The Egyptians, thousands of years before Christ, were able to develop an accurate calendar. Later, the Ancient Greek contribution was the invention of the clepsydre, a perforated vase full of water; as the water emptied, the marks left indicated the time elapsed. In the 3rd Century AD, the sand-watch became an important instrument to measure time, and it remained in use until the 16th Century.
But all early time-measuring devices had a major problem: their lack of portability.
In 1675 the spiral spring was invented and it revolutionised watch-making. Until that point, the rudimentary ‘clocks’ had only hand for measuring the hour. From this point on, pocket watches that measured minutes as well as hours started to be developed.
A major development in the 20th Century came after the Second World War when wristwatches started commonly to replace the use of pocket watches.
The quartz crystal brought another mass consumer revolution. At first only used in laboratories and other situations that needed precise time keeping, clocks and watches powered by quartz movements were manufactured in huge quantities, particularly in Japan, and almost wiped out the mechanical timepiece, and seriously threatened the Swiss watch making industry.
But while Japan concentrated on developing digital quartz watches, Switzerland replied by harnessing the accuracy of quartz technology but this time within an analogue watch. By 1978, they had developed the ultimate expression of elegant time-precision accuracy: the quartz chronograph.