I can still remember back in the 1960’s when I was a child and I had my first ever wrist watch, it was just a basic wristwatch really, there was a small winder on the side so you could wind it up or pull it out slightly, so you could alter the time.
There wasn’t a day or date setting, it just told the time and that was it, but I was absolutely over the moon with my new watch, I couldn’t stop looking at my brand new Timex watch.
I remember wearing it to school one day, I think most of the kids in my class must have been a bit jealous, I don’t think anyone else had one, so I felt like I was the center of attention because for most of the day loads of people were coming over to me to look at my new watch.
After all, back then my new watch was probably the most up to date, state of the art child’s watch that money could buy and not even someone with the wildest of wild imaginations would ever have even begun to believe what the future had in store, just the thought of a wristwatch that could improve your health would have been completely unbelievable, it would have even seemed unrealistic.
What Is A Smartwatch.
So what is a smart watches purpose, well, here we are in 2019 and we now have wristwatches that really can do the unbelievable, from checking your heart rate to keeping an eye on your activity using a pedometer, they have a calorie counter, internet access, phone, camera, video, satnav.
In fact there are various apps available so the list goes on and on, it really does seem like technology has come a trillion miles since that day when I was at school back in the 1960’s showing off my new Timex wristwatch.
Another aspect that I also find amazing is how cheap the health and fitness smartwatches are, you can actually buy them for less than £20, I suppose it’s understandable that the more sophisticated smartwatches that include all of the features listed above are going to cost a bit more, but even they are surprisingly cheap, however for this post I want to begin with the smartwatches that have the health and fitness features.
Fitness Tracker Smartwatch.
As you may have already gathered, the image on the left is the old Timex wrist watch that I was once so proud of, the image on the right is the new health and fitness smartwatch, it’s a fitness activity tracker which keeps a check on your heart, it’s also a pedometer and a calorie counter and much more.
While the above fitness tracker smartwatch would make a perfect gift for anyone keeping fit or trying to improve their general overall health, there are of course many more smartwatches to choose from, some of which include more sophisticated and varying features and for this post I have researched a wide range of smartwatches and I’ve compiled the following list of what I believe will give you the best value for your money.
Before buying a smartwatch, be sure to check it’s the right one for you, because there are various types of smartwatches with differing functions, the first smartwatch featured here is the fitness tracker, which has an accelerometer, for measuring body movement, gyroscope, GPS and heart rate sensors.
There are standalone smartwatches which include a few more features and capabilities than the standard fitness tracker, to the more comprehensive best of smart watches which include many more features, so make a few checks first to make sure the smartwatch you buy has the features and capabilities that you expect from your smartwatch.
The first ever watch was in fact a pocket watch, which was originally designed to be carried around in the pocket, it was invented in 1505 by a German locksmith named Peter Heinlein who by the way, didn’t refer to his new invention as a watch, it was given the name watch by sailors who used the small pocket sized timepieces to replace the large hourglass that was used to time their work shift period and in those days sailors called their work shift period a watch.
The First Watch.
However, due to the pocket watches intricate mechanism, the continual movement of the ships while out at sea would make the pocket watch inaccurate and unreliable, which in turn led to pocket watch makers and designers competing with each other trying to create better and more reliable pocket watches.
The pocket watch along with all mechanical timepieces from this period were spring powered meaning they had to be wound up regularly, which can be seen in this detailed diagram, the Mainspring when wound up would power the rest of the mechanism, everything moving in timed rhythm, each and every moving cog and wheel was essential for the watch to achieve the correct time, in fact, the old saying “Like clockwork” originates from these early timepieces complicated mechanism.
Over time pocket watches not only became more accurate and reliable but also got smaller and more convenient for carrying around and as a result they became very popular and common place, in fact, they became so popular that not only would almost everyone would be carrying a pocket watch but there was also pocket watches for ladies that were smaller and more decorative.
Abraham Louis Breguet.
It seems quite inconceivable that it took from 1505 to 1810 for someone to come up with a way of wearing a watch on the wrist, Abraham Louis Breguet, a Prussian horologist inventor, 305 years after the invention of that first pocket watch became aware of the tact that it would be so much more convenient to have a watch that could be worn on the wrist.
Alas, the wristwatch entered the stage, this now opened up a virtual war between watch manufacturers to keep a step ahead of the competition with the emphasis on accuracy, reliability and design, wrist watches for men, wrist watches for ladies with a smaller wrist for watch sizes and of course the inevitable price war for what is wrist watch cost and value for money.
Even though wearing a watch on the wrist does have obvious benefits, for instance, it’s much more convenient for one and of course, there is much less chance of losing the watch with having it strapped to the wrist, however, it still took some time for the idea of to become popular, in fact, wearing a watch on the wrist didn’t become widespread until after the first world war.
WW I Wristwatch.
During the first world war, soldiers on both sides understood and were fully aware of the importance of having an accurate timepiece strapped to the wrist, they knew that constantly keeping a close eye on the time is essential when planning an offensive or carrying out various missions, for synchronization and keeping everything organised.
There were many wristwatch makers at that time but arguably the main two manufacturers were Wilsdorf & Davies which later became Rolex and Omega both of whom constantly competing and endeavoring to come up with ways to improve their wristwatches, Rolex were the first to invent the waterproof watch, Rolex also invented the first self winding watch using the kinetic rotor.
Omega made improvements to the Rolex waterproof watch by producing a divers watch, in 1957 Omega introduced Seamaster and Speedmaster wristwatches and Speedmaster soon became the official watch used by NASA, there is still vigorous competition between watchmakers today but no single manufacturer holds any kind of monopoly over the rest.
In the early 1970’s watch manufacturers started producing wind up digital watches as well as analogue, but then a revolution in wrist watch manufacturing occurred when Seiko introduced the first battery powered quartz watch with a previously unheard of timekeeping accuracy of 5 seconds over a 24 hour period.
Wind Up watch.
Now the digital quartz battery powered watches had no moving parts whatsoever, the first ones to be produced were Light Emitting Diode (LED) the time was constantly shown with red numbers that were permanently lit up, which although very good for seeing at night when it was dark they did tend to be a drain on the battery.
LED was soon followed by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) which also had the time constantly displayed but one drawback was the fact that unfortunately it was difficult to see the time in fading light, so initially the LED watches remained the front runner in the manufacturers battle to come up with the best selling and most popular wristwatch.
Seiko emerged as the front runner in quartz technology, with the first multi functional digital quartz wristwatch, after some intensive research Seiko decided to improve and build on it’s LCD technology, the reasoning for this move was because Seiko felt that LED wasn’t worth investing into, so they designed new and improved integrated circuits, made improvements to battery life and manufactured better quality LCD panels and it paid off.
In 1977 Seiko became the largest and most profitable watch manufacturer in the world, Seiko manufactured both digital and analogue quartz battery powered watches whilst rival companies concentrated on digital watches alone, Timex which as you may remember from the start of this post was the make of my very first wristwatch was the second largest.
Rolex and Omega, who were at one time the front runners in the manufacturing of timepieces were now finding themselves falling down in the pecking order, especially as far as profitability was concerned, however all of this competition between the rival manufacturers is good news for the customer as it helps to keep the prices down.
By 1978 there were hundreds of small to medium sized watch and clock companies manufacturing wristwatches but any of them that hadn’t switched over to quartz technology was going through a very difficult period and finding things very hard indeed.
It was during this time that the big wrist watch manufacturers found themselves in a battle to produce the most slender watch with a Swiss wristwatch manufacturer eventually winning the battle with a watch that measured a mere 0.89mm from the top outer casing to the base.
By the early 1980’s watch manufacturers were starting to produce low priced plastic wrist watches, the front runner of the many plastic watches to be produced was a Swiss watch that was called the swatch and almost all of it was made from plastic, even the swatch watch straps were also made from plastic.
More recently the emphasis has been geared toward and centered on the accuracy of the actual timekeeping of the watch which now has the ability of receiving signals from satellites, this technology keeps the time of the wrist watch perfectly 100% accurate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Looking back to the 1960’s and reminiscing about when I was a child at school wearing my new Timex wrist watch and checking to see if it had kept the right time, no one could have ever possibly believed that the day would come when an overhead satellite would keep a wrist watch perfectly accurate, but here we are today simply taking such marvelous leaps in technology for granted.
So how does a wrist watch receive signals from a satellite, you may ask, well, there has to be a clear line of site, meaning that nothing can be between the watch receiver and the timekeeping satellite, there are 24 navigational satellites that are orbiting the earth, they are constantly sending atomic clock information signals to each other so that every one of them are kept perfectly accurate at all times.
One has to stop and wonder how much further can this technological advancement go, when four years ago, back in 2015 the computer company Apple announced its first smartwatch, which was in fact a wearable computer with a touchscreen surface, which contained an incredible array of features, including a camera, a thermometer, accelerometers, pedometer, heart rate monitor, altimeter, barometer, GPS receiver, built in microphone and speakers, including Bluetooth capability which gives it even more features.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR TECHNOLOGY.
Will the ever advancing growth of technology lead to humans becoming redundant, will everyone need to be retrained to do work that robots can’t realistically do, or will future technology lead to magical possibilities, will there ever come a time when we have progressed so far that we forget what it’s like to be human.
Is it possible that the day will come when computers, machines and robots will equal or even surpass human brain power, could it be that we are the last generation of unaltered humans to inhabit this planet, would it be a better world if humans shared the planted with robots that are far more intelligent than us, or would we simply become irrelevant.
How much of our humanity will we be willing to surrender in order to tap into and experience the seemingly never ending advancement of technology, are we destined to simply give in to the machines that we ourselves originally created.
Humans are now advancing more in less than a decade than we previously advanced in more than a century and it really does seem apparent that we must all wait and see where technology takes us, or indeed where we take it.
THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE.
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