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Wristwatches can be both practical and collectible as antiques. They became much more convenient than their predecessor the pocket watch since they could be worn on the wrist to easily check the time anywhere, wristwatches didn't get dropped nor lost as often either. Some antique and vintage wristwatches were also extremely valuable, with valuable metals like gold and silver along with jewels as well.
When they first became popular, they were mostly a form of jewelry for women or decorative bracelets that kept the time. It wasn't until World War I when men started wearing wristwatches during the war because they were more practical for checking the time instead of pulling out a big ol' pocket watch or possibly having it fall out of their pocket on the battlefield.
Cartier was the first to produce wristwatches for men. Although the Cartier Santos became the popular name after a pilot by the name Alberto Santos-Dumont requested that a watch be made for him that that he could keep the time on his flights. Another popular watch called the Oyster was created by Rolex and was the first waterproof wristwatch ever made, starting in 1927. These could be worn under the water without damaging them, and many of these are extremely valuable for watch collectors.
Rolex is the most famous watch maker brand in modern times. Back in the old days, they created their commercial grade watches, including their first automatic wristwatch called a Bubbleback. In modern times, Rolex is synonymous with high end watches worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Just about all of their watches are worth quite a bit of money. Like all collectibles, the value of vintage and antique wristwatches depends both on the rarity and condition, but also the brand name factors in quite a bit as well.
When World War II ended, watches for men became more sophisticated and elaborate. Some had radios, compasses and calculators built in, especially later on when electronic wristwatches became popular. In 1972, the Hamilton Watch Company created the first LED watch. Interestingly enough, the watch itself was inspired by a movie called "2001: A Space Odyssey" from 1968 when a digital clock was featured. So then the digital wristwatch became a reality and became extremely popular among buyers and consumers.
Some really major manufacturers are quite popular among watch collectors. Rolex is one of the biggest, but Elgin is another huge brand that collectors look for, especially with antique watches. Omega, Wittanuer, Patek Philippe, Gruen, Hamilton and Illinois, Casio, and Bulova are just some of many very popular wristwatch manufactures for collection as well.