The history of the English watchmaker John Harwood starts in a watchmaker studio on the Isle of Man in England. As a soldier during World War 1 John Harwood came to know the shortcomings of the wristwatch. From these experiences, he developed the vision of a new, as reliable as possible wristwatch without a lateral case opening of the control shaft, which he had clearly identified as a weakness of the former wristwatch. Therefore he focused his whole attention on the development of a different, an automatical kind of winding mechanism, which had to find its place in the interior of the watch. An accident gave him the crucial idea Children playing on a seesaw brought him closer to the solution of his now legendary “self-winding mechanism”. The result was the Harwood Perpetual, which was introduced for the first time in 1926 at the Basel Fair. For this automatic wristwatch Harwood received the patent no. 106583 from the “Federal Bureau of Intellectual Property of the Swiss Confederation in Bern” on October 16, 1923.
In the same year Harwood began a cooperation with the ebauche producer A. Schild SA and the watch manufacturer Fortis. 1929 the mass production of “Harwood” was started. Blancpain in 1926 also launched a wristwatch model on the French market with the name “Harwood”, based on this patent. These watches had no crown; the hand position and a possible additional winding were implemented by using a turning bezel. Harwood's business was not successful, however, and was liquidated in 1933 after bankruptcy.
In the 1940s this principle was taken up successfully again. The second automatic winding system “Autorist” is due to a development of Harwood.
The tradition of Harwood watches is now carried on by his namesake brand Harwood Watch Co., which is owned by the owners of Fortis.