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In the last quarter of the 13th century came the invention of the mechanical clock - heralded as one of the greatest inventions of civilization.

In the 15th century, as the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, table clocks emerged, as did some crude portable clocks held in brass or bronze casings.

In 1541, Jon Calvin banned the wearing of jewelry, and jewelry makers looked to watchmaking as an alternative, boosting watchmaking to new heights.

The first known pocket watch made its appearance in 1574.

The 17th century was also rich with watch advances: The pendulum clock was developed by Dutch scientist, Christian Huygens in 1656. In 1680, minute hands were added to clocks. The second hand made its appearance in 1690.

Wristwatches appeared intermittently throughout the 1800's, but they remained a novelty. Pocket watches reigned supreme.

In the 20th century: The outbreak of World War 1 changed the future of the wristwatch. Aviators and artillery officers realized the efficiency of watches on the wrist and orders poured into factories. By the end of WWI, wristwatches were the preferable form of time telling. The race was on to perfect the wristwatch. Research, technology and innovation continues into the next century, as we can expect to see pager watches, beeper watches and even phone watches.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the worldwide production of watches reached almost 1.2 billion in 1998. Swiss watchmakers accounted for 34 million finished watches, valued at approximately 6 billion dollars, more than half of the total value. Asian countries ( Hong Kong , China and Japan ) supplied the majority of pieces (close to 80%).

Other key countries contributing to fine timepiece production include Germany , France , and to a much small degree, Italy , the United Kingdom and America .

The average individual owns between three and four watches.

According to one watch company's independent study, 37% of fine watch owners own more than one fine watch; and 58% of those who own one luxury watch say they have an interest in purchasing additional fine watches.

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