Wristwatches are popular time keeping devices that are normally won around the wrist. Theses watches emerged in the seventeenth century as a result of modification earlier clocks that were powered by spring. The spring covered clocks were an earlier invention made in the fifteenth century. The pioneer watches were basically mechanical. This has changed over time fueled by technological advancements. For instance, the mechanical mechanisms were sometime replaced by electromagnetic pulses or quartz vibrations (Craik, 2008). Electronic watches with digital mechanism sprung to the scene in 1970s (Cristaldi, 2009). Before wearing a watch on the wrist became popular around 1920s, watches were mostly carried in pockets and were attached to a chain. Wristwatches were mostly considered a women passing fad, and were referred to as wristlets. This is a clear indication that the watches were commonly used to distinguish among genders. Throughout the history of wristwatches, they have been used to show gender, economic status, attract the opposite sex and also serve as adornment among others. This essay will explore these uses and other cultural aspects that have been associated with the use of the wristwatches in the 1970s.
In the 70s watches have become very prominent indicators of the economics of the time, gender, status, modesty and adornment. Early LEDs watches were a statement of technology (Hogben, 2007). They were very expensive in the early 70s, and only those who had the financial resources could afford them. Through the 70s LEDs became cheaper and many people rushed to buy them. The transition to LCD made the watches more affordable, and the stampede for consumption grew even wilder. The proliferation of watches was similar to the proliferation of handsets, and the watch one had clearly communicated his economic and social status. Those who could not afford expensive watches kept it modest, while those who were endowed economical went for the classy and expensive watches. Watches were also a great fashion statement used as adornments. Wristwatches were a clear statement of technological conscience.
In separating class and gender, the wristwatches were even more culturally efficient. As luxury goods watches were good at indication the social class of the wearer (Shinn, 2009). Although the price of watches had drastically dropped, denying them their element of social classification of the wearers, they could still differentiate between people. While most people bought digital watches, originating from Japan, it was still considered to classy wearing a stainless steel watch from Switzerland. Switzerland had initially warn herself a reputation as the best wrist watch maker in the world and thus putting on a watch from Switzerland was not only a sign of economic status but a symbol of social status as well. The watches were used to indicate status in various ways. Watches could be used to indicate status by the virtue of the brand and material used to make them (Craik, 2008). The distinction between the genders was mainly through the design of the watches. The companies that made the watches designed specific watches for men and other for women, thus engendering the use of the watches (Craik, 2008). Some watches had thick casing while other has a thin casing, some has chain or leather straps, while others were engraved into a bracelet or a pendant. In addition to the design, the materials used to create the watches could dictate whether the watch was feminine or masculine (Grayson, 2010).
Other than gender, watches were also age specific. The makers seemingly did not intend to leave any niche of the market unexploited. In this regard, they made several watches designed for the old people of the middle age, the youths and children. This was especially common with the Japanese digital watches.
The decorative purposes of the watches during this period cannot be overemphasized. Being part of the clothing regalia of this period, watches had to be used fashionably. The watches had become a significant part of jewelry and, therefore, there was a difference between wearing a watch and wearing a watch as part of one’s clothing (Craik, 2008). The watches were made of different materials in order to serve this role. For instance, watches were made form fine metals such as platinum, gold, and silver, while others were contained gem stones and diamonds (Grayson, 2010). Still there were those made from plastic.
The popularity of watches made them the favorite presents one could by for a friend or a lover. As a result, there were certain watches preferred as a present to specific people. Lovers likewise preferred purchasing specific wristwatches for their spouses. Such watches could be used to distinguish between married persons and those who were not married.
Being a part of clothing, wristwatches were also a subject of regulation by the authorities in the 70s. There were regulations governing the use of watches, manufacture and marketing. For example, schoolchildren were not allowed to wear jewelry and watches since they were not considered a part of their school regalia. Being a luxury good, watches faced market regulatory policies that regulated most luxury goods which influence their prices greatly.
Although wristwatches like any other piece of adornment can be used to display a person’s political view, watches were never used for this purpose during the seventies. People only bought and used wristwatches because they were trendy and attractive and could be used to make a personal statement of technology and fashion.
In conclusion, wristwatches became popular in 1970 because digital revolution allowed production of numerous wristwatches by Japan, making the general price of watches to drop. Watches became affordable and everyone rushed to buy them. Once in the possession of the consumers watches could be used to indicate the social status, economical status, communicate a technological statement and also show the distinction between the genders. It became a very important part of clothing or apparel.