When portable watches were introduced in the early 16th century, they were delicate devices that were carried in the pockets of wealthy men. Powered by springs, cogs, and wheels, they were incredibly popular until the First World War, when soldiers discovered pocket watches were not made for the outdoors. Most were smashed, crushed, or lost in the mud and the muck of the Western Front. By the time armistice agreements had been reached, most men were wearing wristwatches. But they were far from perfect.
The first issue horologists felt they had to address was water resistance. Even if they were less fragile than pocket models, wristwatches still couldn’t be exposed to water, which meant they had to be removed before swimming or bathing. That was a problem. Water sports had grown increasing popular, and underwater exploration was seen as the next frontier for adventurers everywhere. Scuba gear gave them the ability to examine marine life up close and personal.
Watertight watches are now tested by the International Organization for Standardization. They make sure timepieces can safely be submerged in water. Not only do they test