Disruptive technology of wristwatches
Authored by: Sean  

Every now and then, the world as we know it undergoes change. Whether it is in the form of powerful leaders, unbelievable technological innovation or even breakthroughs in the field of medicine – positive disruption can bring about a change for the better. Emails, personal computers, LCD televisions, the Internet and so many other things that we take for granted on an everyday basis have indeed changed the paradigms when it comes to performance measurement and result delivery in many fields.


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At the heart of such massive changes in technology lies the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’. Interestingly, this term was coined by Professor Clayton Christensen way back in the year 1997 in his book titled, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’. There is absolutely no denying the fact that innovators and strategic thinkers such as Elon Musk are indeed changing the world as we know it, a world that comprises of so many things that we use on an everyday basis. If we were to apply the spotlight of disruptive technology or disruptive innovation to the world of wristwatches, then there are some amazing things that have happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future too.


The timeline of timepieces has been marked by remarkable change. At one point of time people could tell time only by huge clocks but portability was the first disruptive innovation and it happened way back in the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century these portable clock-watches went from being pendants to pocket watches. Technologies such as escapements and spring balance lead to the development of the wristwatch. Even though the very first instance of wristwatch was in the sixteenth century, it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that wristwatches truly came to be hugely popular.


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The invention of the automatic movement saw the introduction of ‘Bumper’ or self-winding wristwatches in the year 1923. Interestingly, this is due to the invention by a man called John Harwood whose design was deployed in the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Another hugely disruptive innovation was the advent of the quartz watch sometime in the 1970s. Such was the ripple caused by this invention that it plunged the Swiss mechanical watch industry into a crisis. This also resulted in the emergence of watchmakers from America and Japan.


In recent times, the most exciting and innovative changes seem to be happening in the wearable technology domain. The wristwatch is no longer a wristwatch and it is not enough to simply talk about quartz movements and digital displays. Smart watches are a reflection of many things including the need to manage more data on an everyday and easier manner as also the rise of the concept of ‘Internet of all things’. Intelligence seems to be everywhere now and you have smartwatches that can display emails and support a variety of mobile applications too.


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Most importantly, such smartwatches are also capable of synchronizing with your smart phones and therefore offer an extremely convenient and handy way of doing more than telling time. There is also no doubt that the world of wristwatches is going to keep changing. Even as there is a huge smorgasbord of smartwatches today, there are going to be some amazing features in the future and perhaps it is all going to be about packing in a lot more information on a tiny device. Even more disruption – now that would be something to watch out for.

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