Men and Wristwatches
Since he began buying properties with his wife in 1974, Cameel Halim has become a respected real estate presence in Chicago, where he oversees the operations of CH Ventures, LLC. A watch and timepiece enthusiast, Cameel Halim has been collecting vintage and antique watches for decades, many of which are showcased in his Halim Time and Glass Museum in Evanston, Illinois.
Throughout much of history, wristwatches were specifically created for and worn by women. This tradition began in 1571, when England’s Queen Elizabeth I was gifted an “arm watch” by Robert Dudley. The watch design became known as a wristlet. It was small, delicate, and was worn by noblewomen. Men viewed such watches as inappropriate for their sex, and carried pocket watches instead. This preference would go on for centuries.
Everything changed, beginning with the wars of the 20th century. During the Boer War of 1899-1902 and World War I, pocket watches proved an inconvenience in the air, on the water, and in the trenches. Soldiers were given wrist watches, which were basically pocket watches attached to leather straps that wrapped around the wrist, to help them coordinate with military movements during attacks. These wristwatches became the watches of choice for service men in all wars in the early 20th century. When the guns fell silent, thousands of men returned home with wristwatches, turning them into an accepted everyday accessory.
With more than 40 years of experience buying, renovating, and selling properties, Cameel Halim serves as president of CH Ventures, LLC, a real estate development company he runs with his wife in Wilmette, Illinois. Of his many projects, Cameel Halim works to save historic homes from demolition. One of these properties was in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth.
Mr. Halim’s daughter, as part of her position in the community group Citizens for Kenilworth, led the charge to keep the Skiff Home, designed by the firm of famed architect Daniel Burnham, from demolition. After many years in real estate, Mr. Halim began his foray into this form of activism in response to his daughter’s passion to save the property. He previously had hoped to purchase the 1908 dwelling, but found the asking price of more than 2 million dollars too great. It was when he saw his daughter’s despair at the high likelihood that the property would be razed that he took steps to save the home, which was accomplished less than a week out from the set demolition date.
Cameel Halim is a respected presence in the Chicago real estate sphere who has overseen numerous development projects that achieved urban restoration goals. Cameel Halim is currently in the process of launching the Halim Time & Glass Museum. The museum features glass pieces by noted manufacturers such as Thomas Webb & Son, as well as antique timepieces.
The pocket watch has its origins in the early 15th century, when a coiled spring was invented in Germany as a way of increasing functionality in locks. The spring quickly crossed over to the clockmaking sphere, as it allowed a device to be wound in ways that stored energy for release over an extended period.
While the main spring enabled the creation of clocks small enough to fit in the hand, it did not solve the issue of a movement that ran at a constant rate as the spring wound down. With the “Nuremberg Egg,” an egg-sized timepiece introduced around 1530, for decades time deviations each day were measured in the hours, rather than in minutes.
This all changed in 1675 with Christiaan Huygens’ invention of the “hair spring” or “balance wheel” mechanism, which absorbed energy output from the main-spring and released it at a constant rate that ultimately allowed the creation of minute hands.