A man’s wristwatch is what keeps him connected to time. Keeping track of time started centuries ago, and time-keeping mechanisms have evolved with the need to keep everything balanced and running smoothly. The wristwatch is a common item today, but it was not always the case. So, when did men begin wearing the wristwatch?

Men began wearing wristwatches at the end of the 19th century. The first wristwatches for men were designed for military use to synchronize attacks. In the early 20th century, the modern man adopted the wristwatch and replaced the pocket watch with a 50:1 ratio.

The wristwatch is secured on a soldier’s wrist and leaves both hands free for combat. It was not until the 1st world war that soldiers were given wristwatches that it became a common sight. The wristwatch changed warfare in the 19th century, and after the war, the age of science and mass production made the wristwatch a necessity for the working man.

When Did Men Begin Wearing Watches On Their Wrists?

Wristwatches existed long before men started to wear them. Only in the 19th century did the advantages of having a timepiece strapped to a soldier’s wrist in combat spark interest. To have combatants equipped with a watch that could help synchronize maneuvers showed the wristwatch was invaluable.

The British Army was first to use wristwatches in the 1880s when Officers wore them during colonial military campaigns. In the First Boer War, which started in 1880, the wristwatch helped coordinate troop movements and synchronized attacks. After the colonial campaigns, wristwatches and how they changed the art of war became popular, especially among the officer class.

In World War I, the wristwatch evolved into a necessary item for soldiers, and Girard Perregaux mass-produced wristwatches for German Naval Officers. The pocket watch did not give the soldier the freedom to carry equipment, and a wristwatch was created called the trench watch. Part of the officer’s kit included a wristwatch the officer had to purchase themselves.

Watchmakers seized the opportunity for soldiers to buy their wristwatches, and advertisements appeared everywhere. With wristwatches being advertised for the soldiers to buy, the public saw their value and the pocket watch quickly became a thing of the past. A sad truth, but thanks to the war in the 19th century, the first wristwatch exists, and today time accompanies men on their wrists every day.

When Were The First Wristwatches Made?

The first wristwatch, called an armed watch, was made by Robert Dudley for Elizabeth I of England in 1571. Unfortunately, it does not exist anymore; the only proof of its existence is in historical writings.

The oldest surviving wristwatch, a bracelet watch, was made for Josephine Bonaparte, the first wife of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806. The couple loved watches, and Napoleon, although not a wristwatch, had a watch made for him by the renowned watchmaker Louis Monet.

The wristwatch, or bracelet watch as it was known, was worn by women and the Queen of Naples received one from Abraham Louis Breguet in 1810. About 50 years later, in 1868, the Swiss watchmaker extraordinaire Patek Philippe made a watch bracelet for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

Although it was called an armed watch or watch bracelet, the concept of a watch worn on your wrist predates the wristwatch worn by men for at least 70 years and even as far back as the 16th century.

Most Expensive Wristwatches For Men  

Before wristwatches became popular for men, the pocket watch was the to-go-to timepiece. The pocket watch was attached to a chain or a fob and soon became a decorative piece worn by men as time-keeping jewelry to show an elevation in status.

With the start of World War I, the decorative pocket watch was left behind for a durable and practical wristwatch called a trench watch. After the wristwatch gained popularity and affordability, it returned to the decorative market. Watchmakers added prestige and glamor to the wristwatch appearance to set theirs above competitors. Today some of the most expensive jewelry for men is the wristwatch.

Names like Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Louis Monet need no introduction. These wristwatches are some of the best and most expensive watches in the world and have a price tag that can buy a luxury car or small house. Here are three of the world’s most expensive wristwatches for men.

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona

The Rolex Daytona is designed for racing drivers in the early 20th century. Manufactured in 1963 by Rolex, the company produced three generations that started with the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona and created a 2nd Daytona wristwatch in 1988 and a 3rd in 2000. A Rolex Daytona can set you back anything from $14 thousand to $75 thousand and upwards.

The first Rolex Daytona has a distinct dial, and the watch is known as the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. This Rolex is named after the famous actor and racer, who received a Rolex Daytona from his wife and made it popular by wearing it throughout his racing career. In 2017 this watch sold for a price of $17.8 million, making it one of the most expensive watches in the world.

Louis Monet Meteoris

With a past client list that included names like Napoleon Bonaparte, American Presidents Thomas Jefferson, and King George IV, one can only expect perfection from a Louis Monet Meteoris wristwatch. This wristwatch makes a bold statement, and owning one is an accomplishment on its own, not to mention its luxurious appearance.

Continuing Louis Monet’s legacy of excellence and perfection, the Meteoris combines precision with a beautiful finish that shines bright on any man’s wrist. The Louis Monet Meteoris will lighten your wallet with about $4.6 million. With such a hefty price, this wristwatch is not about the money but all about belonging to a selected few worthy of wearing a Louis Monet Meteoris.

Patek Philippe 5004T

Uninterrupted since 1839, Patek Philippe is one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world. With more than a century’s experience and a renowned name in watchmaking, Patek Philippe eclipses every watchmaker today. With quality that can only come from such a well-known watchmaker, you can expect a masterpiece like the Patek Philippe 5004T.

Patek Philippe is known for record-breaking prices and sold a Graves Super complication pocket watch made in 1933 for $11 million in 1999. But when a wristwatch came up for grabs in 2013, the world again felt the excitement. A Patek Phillipe 5004T was sold for $3.9 million, and although your chance of owning one is slim, Patek Philippe is a masterpiece, and every one of their watches is worn proudly.


The end of the 19th century brought wristwatches as an advantage in warfare to the attention of colonial soldiers. In 1880 wristwatches were first worn by men to synchronize attacks better, and watchmakers jumped at the opportunity to manufacture and sell them to officers. Women wore wristwatches before men called an “armed watch,” and Elizabeth I, in 1571, was the first to receive one as a gift.


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