Today in History – January 3, 1957 – The world’s first electric wristwatch is released. The Hamilton watch company began research on an electric watch in 1946. Ten years later they released their watch with great success. Prior to this watch most watches kept time using a balance wheel that was kept in motion using a spring. This spring had to be wound by the wearer everyday. The Hamilton watch, while using the same balance wheel, used electromagnets to keep it in motion. One of the biggest challenges was finding a battery that was powerful enough to power the watch for a year, but also be small enough to fit inside the watch case. The Hamilton watch case styles were also an important ingredient in the watches success. People loved the their asymmetric design. However, this type of watch never gained mass popularity as they were only marginally better than their mechanical brethren. And by 1969 production stopped when quartz technology was used in favor of its accuracy.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway’s resources on watch technology and time measurement. For related educational resources, visit the Computer Engineering Education, or the Electrical Engineering Education disciplinary communities.