The Pocket Watch

“The Pocket Watch: The Wearable Clock”

By: Tayler Anderson, Virginia Tech



Frequently, people think of time as a valuable element in society. Time keeps track of the progress of existence and events. It serves importance to have a tool to measure, keep, and indicate the time. When the clock became invented around the start of the 14th century in Europe, it became the standard timekeeping device until the pendulum clock became invented in 1656. [2] The invention of the clock serves useful in many ways but remained immobile and able to be used when individuals left their homes. When this deficit in the design of the clock became uncovered by other individuals as well as inventors, Peter Henlein, a locksmith and clockmaker of Nuremberg, Germany, produced the pocket watch which serves as a watch on a chain intended to be carried in the year 1504. [1] This new technology created a social impact on the world then and now with the increased trend of wearable technology and expensive name brand watches.

Pocket watches resulted in being most common between the 16th and 17th century. [5] The main purpose of the pocket watch intended to be able to have a mobile technology to tell time. Constructing the functionality of a normal-sized clock to a portable smaller version became very complex. The construction and mechanics of the pocket watch consisted of five primary components: a gear train, a balance wheel, an escapement mechanism, a mainspring, and a clock face. [7] The mainspring gets compressed when a pocket watch results in being wound, and mechanical energy produced serves to power the watch. Early models of the mainspring powered watches were round and bulky, but screws introduced in the 1550s enabled them to take on a modern flatten shape that is seen in pocket and wristwatches today. Peter Henlein’s design for his small drum-shaped portable watch could run for forty hours before it needed rewinding. [5]

The innovation of the pocket watches not only helped with convenience for individuals to check time actively but also melded a social impact. A pocket watch told a lot about gentlemen and their social standing during the 16th century. [3] Pocket watches turned into prized possessions and family heirlooms and something men could treasure. Wealthy men would usually demonstrate their wealth by the type of pocket watch owned and they were status symbols. However, social divides did not mean that the poor could not own a pocket watch, they would have to inherit them from their fathers. [4] This invention also impacted today’s trend of wearable technology with the innovation of products like the Apple watch and other wearable technology options. Even though the pocket watch resulted in being useful, it was not always practical. Whenever individuals had to check the time, they would have to take out a huge piece of metal and copper, which interrupts too much time in the day for individuals. The impracticality of the pocket watch aided in the invention of wristwatches and the wearable technology that is used in the modern world and tie into the social aspect of fashion trends and signification of wealth among individuals. [6]

Word Count: 473

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Getting There – Boorstin

Overtime throughout history, the need to always move was at the forefront of Americans minds. Americans built wagons, steamboats, and railroads without knowing the impact that it would make for public transportation for generations to come. When wagons were first introduced to the west, they were mainly only used by transients and the wagons used showed the importance of light construction, speed, and freedom of movement. Slowly, wagons began to be used by westward travelers as well instead of riding on the backs of horses and mules.

A horse and wagon, 1911.

Western transportation grew fast and introduced steamboats and steamboat racing. As early as 1787, John Fitch had made the first vessel moved by the power of the stream on the waters of the United States. It was a steamboat that could make a trip from New York to Albany in thirty-two hours. This was an extraordinary feat for the future of modern transportation and began a whole new exploration for steamboats and the speed that they could be. In the West, the economy of construction and speed had long governed the design of riverboats. Before this advancement most downstream transportation, there were flatboats that varied in size and shape. But by the 1820s, when steamboats were common on western waters, they were powered by engines built in the West.

The passion for speed was also used with the invention of the railroad. While steamboats followed routes laid out by nature, railroads were the routes. American railroads were constructed in the quickest way, and with little regard to safety, comfort, or durability. Over time, railroads were able to get constructed to be safer and used by Americans to travel. With the addition of railroads, locomotives began to get introduced. Locomotives were specifically designed for American roads. They would have to be flexible and light, able to run on steep grades, sharp curves, and light wooden trestles. Technical changes were made to locomotives over time and


 opened up to both English and American designs.


The article states that the technology of haste expressed a special attitude to time. They indicated that America was potentially the land of the future. American technology was actually found to be a technology of the present, shaped by hast, by the scarcity of craftsmanship, of capital, and raw materials. By building rapidly and flimsily, Americans refused hostages to the future and believed in the faith that things would change for the better in the future.


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The Stirrup

In the medieval times, horses were used for speed and mobility during battles. It was often hard, however, to control the horse while defending with a spear or a sword in the other hand. Then came the emergence of the stirrup. A stirrup is a small ring-like structure that allows the riders of horses place their foot inside and attach it to the saddle by a strap. They were useful to the medieval soldiers to mount or dismount the animal. The emergence of the stirrup occurred between 500 BC and 750 BC and changed everything. They aided the rider’s ability to stay in the saddle, which significantly improved the animals’ usefulness to humans in things such as communication, transportation, and welfare.

Many different people took advantage of this new technology. Asian riders took advantage of the art of the stirrup mainly for archery while the Europeans evolved the stirrup into a new form of shock cavalry. Instead of using a spear for warfare, they used a lance which could be simply placed under the arm of the soldier to fight. This saved time for the soldiers and kept them more protected then the overhead motion of a spear. This technique of fighting was then paired with a shield and a suit of armor to become one of the most famous fighting techniques from the late 10th century to the end of the 17th. Lances took several forms through the time in which they were used. There was the classic wooden lance that was about 10 to 12 feet long, to be equipped with a sharpened spear tip. When firearms were created and used in battle, lances soon became less popular, but the polish Uhlans continued to use lances up through World War I.


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The Alphabet

The Alphabet by Micheal N. Geselowitz from “The Ancient Mediterranean” discusses the creation and evolution of symbols that we now call the Alphabet. From the earliest existence of civilization, cuneiform was one of the only forms of writing language that individuals would use. Cuneiform consisted of wedge-shaped characters that would mainly be wedged on clay tablets that individuals used to communicate with each other. Cuneiform was an impressive skill to know and understand but it took scribes many years to learn all of the different variations of symbols and combinations that all meant different things.  

By 1500 and 1200 BCE, people called the Canaanites were able to produce a simplified language that could be widely used and easier to understand among more people. They realized that they did not need to use symbols that resembled pictures to understand certain things, instead, they decided to base the new script on a pared-down number of symbols. Through the years of the alphabet being created and solidified, the Phoenicians realized that the words could be broken down into distinct sounds or phonemes which we now call constants and vowels.  The alphabet that the Phoenicians were creating was not as advanced as it is now in the modern day, but yet a building blocks to the form of the alphabet that we use today. The first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet were alpha and beth and put together, they make up the word “alphabet” – any system of writing based on phonetic letters.



The alphabet made the creation of a script and reading much easier. Instead of taking years and years to master the understanding of cuneiform, a learner of the alphabet only had to master a handful of symbols rather than several thousand. Since this system of writing and reading was also efficient, it quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean and Near Eastern Irading networks. Many different parts of the world adopted the alphabet and it descended the idea of modern language and different interpretations among people.–language/

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