The history of watches began in 16th century Europe, where watches evolved from portable spring-driven clocks, which first appeared in the 15th century. One account of the origin of the word "watch" is that it came from the Old English word woecce which meant "watchman", because it was used by town watchmen to keep track of their shifts. Another says that the term came from 17th century sailors, who used the new mechanisms to time the length of their shipboard watches.
The watch developed from the 16th century to the mid 20th century was a mechanical device, powered by winding a mainspring which turned gears and then moved the hands, and kept time with a rotating balance wheel. The invention of the quartz watch in the 1960s, which ran on electricity and kept time with a vibrating quartz crystal, proved a radical departure for the industry. During the 1980s, quartz watches took over the market from mechanical watches, an event referred to as the "quartz crisis". Although mechanical watches still sell at the high end of the market, the vast majority of watches now have quartz movements.
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