The watch as we know it today came into being because of requirements for shipping and navigation around the early 15th century. The trouble they had was that while the latitude can be determined by monitoring the position of the stars, the only means to find longitude was by comparing the midday time of the local longitude to a European meridian located in Paris or Greenwich. This was a very unreliable way of doings things up until John Harrison invented the chronometer.
The first fairly accurate clocks relied on weighted pendulums for energy, which by their very nature were no use at sea or in a small timepiece. The innovation of the spring mechanism brought in the development of "pocket clockes" in Tudor England enabling makers to have the ability to put a time keeping device in a little, mobile, container.
These very early watches only had an hour hand, the inaccuracy of the watches at this time made a minute hand useless. The development of the miniaturization procedure of spring based designs enabled the making of mobile watches that would work at sea.
In the 1800's the first wrist watch was made by the Patek Philippe firm, a joint venture of Antoinne Patek and French watchmaker Adrien Phillippe, the creator of the keyless winder mechanism. They marketed it as an accessory for ladies up until the 20th century. Because of its exclusivity, reduced volume production and expense, Patek Philippe lost the market and lost much of its his business.
Patek Philippe changed and became a force in the development of quartz watches presenting not only the continuous calendar, and chronograph, but also the most complicated mechanical watch ever made. In 1989, the company produced the Calibre 89, in celebration of their 150th anniversary. This watch has 33 features and is amazing!
In the very early 1900's, watches became popular with men due to innovations of the Brazilian developer Alberto Santos-Dumont who was looking a more practical method of knowing time while in an airplane. He approached his good friend, Louis Cartier and asked him for a watch that he might see much easier and Cartier created a leather-band wristwatch for him that he never ever removed.
Due to the fact that Cartier was a popular figure in Paris, he had the ability to successfully market his watch designs and by the Fist World War, officers in many armies were using the watches because it was much easier when in battle to simply look at a watch on their wrist than to have to reach in their pocket for a pocket watch.
Military contractors started issuing low-cost, trustworthy, standardized watches to artillery and infantry officers so they might synchronize their attacks. At the end of the war, these European and American veterans were allowed to keep their wrist watches which extended the market to middle class Western culture. Today nearly everybody uses a wrist watch as a direct result of their usage in World War I.