The earliest mention of watch was in Shakespeare’s play "As You Like It." In second act of play one character produces a sun-dial from his pocket and muses about time. Though at this time in history a true, portable timekeeping piece would have been too much of a hassle. Coming up with a powers source for watch was impossible at this time. But in 1500’s Peter Henlein from Germany created first pocket watch. And from that point on portable timekeeping was part of norm.
In early 1600s, form watches came into being. Cases shaped like animals and objects and religious themed watches were most popular. But cheap, portable clocks…watches…didn’t really come into wide spread use until 1780 when Abraham Louis Perrelet invented self winding movement.
Watch making enters its prime period in years that followed. In 1791, J.F. Bautte founded watch company that would eventually become Girard-Perregaux. In 1820, Thomas Prest registers a patent for self-winding watch. In 1833 Antoine LeCoultre started his own watch making business that would eventually become Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Other big names and when they were founded:
Minerva founded in 1858 Heuer founded in 1860 Zenith founded in 1865 Movado founded in 1881 Rolex founded in 1905 Citizen founded in 1918 Seiko founded in 1924
But probably most innovative and best-selling watch of all time is Timex. Timex created Waterbury pocket watch in 1880s and made affordable timekeeping a mainstay for average man.