October 26, 1998
The Quartz Watch
Among the wide range of Web sites created by the Smithsonian Institution, one of the newest is devoted to the history of quartz watches. Like many Smithsonian sites, it's educational but much livelier than a dry textbook.
Called "The Quartz Watch," the site is a primer on development of quartz timekeeping from the early 20th century to today. Technical information is presented with clean, modern design and photography. Each topic is covered in short fact-filled reports. From the home page, you're a click away from "Inventors," "What's Inside Your Quartz Watch," "Cool Watches," "Watch Wars" (profiling the countries competing for prominence in invention) and a timeline starting in 1880.
Each major area contains nuggets of history with pictures. For instance, under "Cool Watches" sections divide watches into Before Quartz (Bulova Accutron and Hamilton Electric), Early Quartz (Hamilton Pulsar, Seiko Astron and CEH Beta 21) and Later Quartz (Seiko TV Watch, radio-controlled watches, calculator watches, $20 watches, Swatch and Timex Indiglo).
The site and an on-going history of quartz development are funded by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention at the National Museum of American History. Jerome Lemelson (1923-1997) was a prolific inventor with more than 500 patents to his name. The site previews to a 1999 permanent exhibit called "On Time," which will explore how clock time has become so significant in American history and our daily lives. A grant from Timex Corp. made the upcoming exhibit possible. For details, visit the Museum's Web page (www.si.edu/nmah) or call (202) 357-2700.
- by Michael Thompson