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The History of Automatic Timepieces

Posted by ilan srulovicz on

Many years after perfecting the art of horology, experts set their focus on developing mechanical designs to enable clocks to automatically wind. Users who then had hand watches would use them without fear of missing their routine of powering their timepiece. The first effort was introduced in the 1770s after which automatic watches became popular around the world.

The history of automatic timepieces began in the 1770s, with the first pocket watches bearing a distinct design of Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a Swiss watchmaker. He invented a mechanical device that could transfer energy according to his calculations, generated by the user’s body to power the automatic watch for eight days.

However, a more popular version of the automatic watch was invented by a Frenchman named Hubert Sarton, whose designs were first published in 1778. The French public purchased automatic pocket clocks from watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, who bought designs from Perrelet and improved them significantly. However, he stopped selling them in 1900 after the public discovered that his watches were unreliable.

A revolution in the automatic clock industry was developed after the First World War when manufacturing was finally advanced, enabling the production of small wrist watches with the ability to wind automatically. Hand movement provided much more kinetic power compared to pocket watches.

Finally, engineers had the ability to transform the available power to changes in mechanisms easily. The first person with a breakthrough in this was John Harwood, a Bolton watch repairer from London. After claiming Swiss and English patents for automatic wrist watches in 1923, Harwood began the production of watches in his factory that was based in Switzerland in the year 1928. This offered the European public an opportunity to use the watches that had the capacity to work for twelve hours after they were fully wound.

Other manufacturers later built upon John Harwood’s designs and began an improvement era. Rolex, the famous watch company, incorporated a new weights system that allowed more free movement and acquired more energy with each turn. This improved the capacity from twelve hours to thirty-five hours of work when fully wound.

Eterna Watch introduced ball bearings in 1948 to the designed automatic watches enabling better control and ability over internal components to preserve the integrity and structure of the watch even after critical levels were used.

Watch making has gone through many changes throughout history. At Égard Watches, we focus on making quality luxury timepieces that will be appreciated for years to come. Get your quality luxury timepiece today.


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