The concept of the wristwatch goes back to the production of the very earliest watches in the 16th century.
Elizabeth I of England received a wristwatch from Robert Dudley in 1571, described as an arm watch.
Time-related features such as timers, chronographs and alarm functions are common.
Some modern designs incorporate calculators, GPS and Bluetooth technology or have heart-rate monitoring capabilities.
Improvements in manufacturing such as the tooth-cutting machine devised by Robert Hooke allowed some increase in the volume of watch production, although finishing and assembling was still done by hand until well into the 19th century.
A major cause of error in balance wheel timepieces, caused by changes in elasticity of the balance spring from temperature changes, was solved by the bimetallic temperature compensated balance wheel invented in 1765 by Pierre Le Roy and improved by Thomas Earnshaw.
Some watches use radio clock technology to regularly correct the time.
Developments in the 2010s include smartwatches, which are elaborate computer-like electronic devices designed to be worn on a wrist.
Wristwatches were first worn by military men towards the end of the 19th century, when the importance of synchronizing manoeuvres during war, without potentially revealing the plan to the enemy through signaling, was increasingly recognized.Although there was an attempt to modernise clock manufacture with mass production techniques and the application of duplicating tools and machinery by the British Watch Company in 1843, it was in the United States that this system took off.Aaron Lufkin Dennison started a factory in 1851 in Massachusetts that used interchangeable parts, and by 1861 it was running a successful enterprise incorporated as the Waltham Watch Company.Today most watches that are inexpensive and medium-priced, used mainly for timekeeping, have quartz movements.Expensive collectible watches, valued more for their elaborate craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal and glamorous design than for simple timekeeping, often have traditional mechanical movements, even though they are less accurate and more expensive than electronic ones.