True enough: necessity is the mother of invention. But perhaps we fail to appreciate the degree to which necessity drove innovation in watchmaking so many centuries ago.
Today, we count on our timepieces to do so much–and within such a small physical space. Not only do we expect them to be crafted from elegant, precious materials, but we also demand style, durability. These functions and forms are the product of many, many years of innovation. IWC Watches Portuguese Collection E-Book pays homage to this legacy, helping us to trace it down to the present day.
Navigation spurred the advance. The need to chart, record, and plot created the chance to measure time in a way that did not–could not have–existed beforehand. Thank the Portuguese, those ambitious imperialists. From their tiny Iberian nation they extended Europe’s reach all the way from the straits of Melacca to Hispaniola. In the process, they created the requirement for precise, portable timepieces.
Now, that need couldn’t be met instantly. It took centuries of work, plus the involvement of the British, to finally produce the kind of instruments needed to reduce the risk of sailing. Yet it’s critical to realise that these devices were experimental in nature. Science was the goal.
That’s not the case today. Today, consumerism is the driver. Demand for watches must run in the high hundreds of millions on an annual, global basis. The need to meet such segmented needs keeps innovation strong. Competition from mobile phones and other digital devices that are able to keep very precise time may be the extra push needed to sustain growth.
So as IWC’s E-Book looks backward to the inspiration of today–the Portuguese pioneers–we take the chance to look to the future as well. We anticipate even more powerful timepieces in the future, those able to compete with the multi-function capabilities of electronic devices.