The invention of the automatic watch movement was a major milestone in the history of watchmaking. Prior to its introduction, watches had to be manually wound in order to keep time. However, with this innovation, watches were able to wind themselves, allowing for greater convenience and accuracy.
The first automatic watch movement was invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a watchmaker from Switzerland, in the 18th century. Perrelet's invention was based on the principle of the oscillating weight, which was a weight that moved back and forth as the wearer moved their arm. This movement caused the weight to rotate, which in turn wound the mainspring of the watch.
While Perrelet's invention was an important step forward in watchmaking, it was not until the 20th century that the automatic watch movement truly came into its own. In 1923, John Harwood, an English watchmaker, patented a new design for an automatic watch movement that was much more reliable and efficient than previous designs.
Harwood's design featured a rotor that was mounted on a pivot, which allowed it to rotate freely in both directions. Just as in Perrelet's design, the wearer's movment was used to wind the mainspring of the watch through the aforementioned rotor. This design was much more efficient than previous designs, as it allowed the watch to wind itself with much less movement on the part of the wearer.
In the years that followed, many other watchmakers developed their own versions of the automatic watch movement, each with its own unique features and innovations. Some of the most notable include Rolex's Perpetual movement, which featured a winding rotor that could rotate a full 360 degrees, and Omega's Co-Axial movement, which used a unique escapement system that greatly improved the watch's accuracy.
Today, automatic watches are widely regarded as some of the finest timepieces in the world, prized for their accuracy, reliability, and convenience. They are used by people all over the world, from casual watch enthusiasts to professional divers and pilots, all benefiting from the worry-free pleasure automatic timepieces provide.