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The British had predominated in watch manufacture for much of the 17th and 18th centuries, but maintained a system of production that was geared towards high quality products for the elite.

A pocket watch is designed for a person to carry in a pocket.

Watches progressed in the 17th century from spring-powered clocks, which appeared as early as the 14th century.

The increased accuracy of the balance wheel focused attention on errors caused by other parts of the movement, igniting a two-century wave of watchmaking innovation. The verge escapement was replaced in quality watches by the cylinder escapement, invented by Thomas Tompion in 1695 and further developed by George Graham in the 1720s.

Improvements in manufacturing such as the tooth-cutting machine devised by Robert Hooke allowed some increase in the volume of watch production, although finishing and assembling was still done by hand until well into the 19th century.

Drawing of one of his first balance springs, attached to a balance wheel, by Christiaan Huygens, published in his letter in the Journal des Sçavants of 25 February 1675.

The application of the spiral balance spring (spiral hairspring) for watches ushered in a new era of accuracy for portable timekeepers, similar to that which the pendulum had introduced for clocks.It is designed to keep working despite the motions caused by the person's activities.A wristwatch is designed to be worn around the wrist, attached by a watch strap or other type of bracelet.Aaron Lufkin Dennison started a factory in 1851 in Massachusetts that used interchangeable parts, and by 1861 it was running a successful enterprise incorporated as the Waltham Watch Company.The concept of the wristwatch goes back to the production of the very earliest watches in the 16th century.Modern watches often display the day, date, month and year, and electronic watches may have many other functions.

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