Necessities of 20th century warfare were a factor in making the wearing of wristwatches by men more socially acceptable. Attitudes changed as fighting soldiers found that wristwatches were the more practical timekeeping device (than fobbed pocketwatches) on the changed battlefield.
During the First World War the unprecedented wide battlefronts meant that the movements of thousands of soldiers had to be synchronised to a much more precise nature than in previous military conflicts. Millions of troops were issued with a ‘trench watch’, doing much to dispel the pre-war image of the wristwatch (or ‘wristlet’) as unmanly. It was also important that trench watches could be read in zero lighting conditions, and that they were robust enough to survive life in the warzone.
Several watchmakers brought-out chronographs with radium-illuminated dials and protective (often decorative) shrapnel guards.