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The Chronology Through the Ages

Written by: Ruben Brochado

The “Henry Graves Supercomplication”, with its 18 carat gold case, is probably the most  complicated  watch that has ever been made – with 24 additional functions ranging from a moon phase calendar and a sunset indicator to a depiction of the night sky above New York. Even the Hublot “Big Bang” (US$ 5 million), studded with 1,282 diamonds, and the “Grand Complication” (US$ 2,6 million), made by  A. Lange & Söhne from 876 individual parts, almost seem like bargains in comparison with the pocket watch named after an American banker.



But something that is significantly more valuable to many of us than any luxury chronograph is… time itself. Pink Floyd summed it up perfectly in their album “The Dark Side of the Moon”, released in 1973. The album’s track “Time” is about wasting valuable time, which – according to the lyrics – will probably come back to haunt you in later years.

The history of time began with the first “clocks” made by human beings – notches on the bones of animals which corresponded to the phases of the moon and date back 30000 years. Approximately 5,000 years ago, enormous stone boulders were first used to determine the solstices. Based on the arrangement of these monoliths – such as Stonehenge in the south of England – which are still steeped in mysticism to this day, the shortest and longest day of the year were identified. Antique tombs in Thebes, in Egypt, also served to record the position of the sun within the annual cycle.

Prague-Astronomical_clock_czech republicAstronomical clock in Prague, Czech republic


astronomical clock in veniceAstronomical clock in Venice, Italy

The first advanced civilizations, such as the Maya, Aztecs, Hindus, Persians, native North Americans, Greeks, Romans and then later the Jewish / Christian peoples, began to explore the concept of time intensively.


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The “natural clocks”, such as the position of the sun, moon and stars, the seasons and rings on trees were important sources of information.

ancient sundial on the castle walls of saint michael's mount, ukAncient sundial on the castle walls of Saint Michael’s Mount, UK


st-michaels-sundialSundial on the church tower of St Michael’s at Much Hoole, UK



“High noon” was simply when the sun was at its highest.

It was only in 1884 that the Greenwich “prime meridian” was recognized by all leading nations at an international time zone conference.

The day officially changes on the International Date Line, which runs approximately through the Kiribati islands, known as the “Millennium Islands”, in the middle of the Pacific. This is also where the first celebrations heralded the new millennium.

Carcassonne_cadran_solaireCarcassonne Cadran Solaire


But now let’s return to the “inventors of the time machines”. In approximately 1500 BC, the Egyptians developed the first sophisticated sundial, which used the path followed by the sun’s shadow extremely accurately. This was followed by the sun’s shadow extremely accurately.

Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument in Equador. The GPS coordinates are 0,00 here on the equator.Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument in Equador. The GPS coordinates are 0,00 here on the equator.



Around 700 years ago, European engineers finally invented the first mechanical clocks. Large and heavy, they resembled spires which were big enough for a refinement to these constructions which made it possible to measure time down to the second – the pendulum.

Dutch Pendulum ClockDutch Pendulum Clock

Switzerland is still viewed as the leading country when it comes to top quality chronographs, whose beauty and precision are without compare.

In addition to Patek Philippe, many other legendary clockmakers have shaped the “history of time” – above all Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, Loius Moinet (inventor of the chronograph), Tag Heuer, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.

Louis Moinet (1768 - 1853) was the inventor of the chronograph. | Astrolabe Tourbillon

Louis Moinet (1768 - 1853) was the inventor of the chronograph. | Astrolabe TourbillonLouis Moinet (1768 – 1853) was the inventor of the chronograph. | Astrolabe Tourbillon

From the most sophisticated technology to exquisite design and our “internal clock” – nothing fascinates the human being as much as the transience and the thrilling expectation of that which lies ahead.

Source: Luxury Life Magazine, nº 22;

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