Blancpain Historical Timepieces – Harwood Automatic (1926) – The World’s First Automatic Wrist Watch

Not all of Blancpain’s innovations have borne the “Blancpain banner”. Others, recognizing Blancpain’s watchmaking talent, have drawn upon that know-how and inspiration for their own brands. A good example is the 1926 Harwood watch. Frédéric- Emile Blancpain working in collaboration with the English watchmaker John Harwood gave birth to a major watchmaking first which stole the show at the Basel Fair that year.

This was no less than the world’s first self-winding wristwatch. The movement which Blancpain created was revolutionary for its time and featured a 15-jewel design with a 12-hour power reserve (of course, modern Blancpain has vastly advanced the power reserve performance of its automatic movements since then, offering power reserves as high as 8 days). So significant was the new ground broken by this first ever automatic wristwatch movement that it was granted a patent.

Although the Blancpain Harwood was celebrated for its first ever wristwatch automatic winding system, its innovations did not stop there. As modern sealing methods had not yet been developed, the crown was seen as a major source of dust and moisture, both enemies of fine watch movements. Blancpain Harwood conceived a clever system for dispensing with the crown. Setting the watch was accomplished instead by turning its bezel.

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