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FS Harwood 1929 automatic watch (the world's first automatic wristwatch)

  1. obstando Jun 18, 2022

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    An English watch repairer called John Harwood developed and patented the first automatic movement for a wristwatch in 1924. Not having the ability to produce watches on a large scale Harwood sought help from existing manufacturers to enable him to sell his invention to the world. Fortis were responsible for putting the watches together using movements from A Schild and Blancpain amongst others. The watches were sold in the UK and Europe under the brand Harwood and in the US with the name Perpetual. The watches were sold between 1926 until 1931 when the company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Around 32,000 were made over this period. John Harwood spent some years afterwards in a battle with Rolex who had advertised their Oyster Perpetual (note they used the same name as Harwood's US model) as the world's first automatic wristwatch. Eventually Rolex issued a public apology and made note of Harwood in later advertisements but a bit like the Everest expedition Rolex had planted the seed and were thereafter associated with the first ever automatic wristwatch. John Harwood was awarded the Gold Medal by the British Horological Institute in 1957 recognising the landmark invention that we today take for granted.

    Details:
    925 (which is the silver standard) is stamped on one lug to confirm that the case is solid silver.
    The caseback is hallmarked for Birmingham with date letter for 1929.
    The dial is in fantastic condition and is all original along with the blued steel Breguet style hands.
    The crystal appears to be original but has crazed around the edges which is perfectly normal for acrylic crystals of this age. It can be easily replaced if required.
    The watch is 30mm diameter and comes on a black leather strap.
    The bezel sets the time and engages and disengages the movement perfectly.
    The watch runs and keeps time but may need a service as no history is known.
    Overall this is a beautiful example of a very rare and important wristwatch. It's not easy to find examples that haven't been prepared for sale or had parts replaced to make them look better - this one is completely original and in working order.

    You will notice there is no crown on the watch. The time is set by turning the bezel either clockwise or anti-clockwise. This disengages the movement allowing the hands to be set. The bezel is then turned in the opposite direction to re-engage the movement. The rotor bounces off the buffers creating quite a blow which gave rise to the name bumper - something very much associated with later Omega movements in particular.

    Price: £700 (sterling) plus shipping and insurance
    Payment to be by bank transfer or PayPal (F+F)

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    kip595, Zdzislaw, DaveK and 13 others like this.
  2. obstando Jun 29, 2022

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    Price reduced to £675
     
  3. Engee Jun 29, 2022

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    A real piece of history. And it seems that versions with Roman numerals are a little more unusual than Arabic numbers.

    Is the red dot visible when the movement is disengaged?

    GLWS
     
  4. obstando Jun 29, 2022

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    This one has a black dot which is visible when the movement is engaged. When the movement is disengaged allowing the hands to be set the black dot disappears from view. This is exactly the same as another early example I have.
     
    Engee likes this.