The automatic watch movement is a modern marvel, having been in use for over 250 years.

The origins of the automatic movement can be traced back to Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 1770’s. His concept utilized a vertically oscillating weight in a pocket watch, and it was reported by the Geneva Society of Arts that 15 minutes of walking was required to fully wind the movement.


The exploits of Perrelet attracted the attentions of another Abraham – Abraham-Louis Breguet. Fascinated by the automatic movement, Breguet made several improvements to Perrelet’s design, and sold automatic pocket watches to the French public.


An early automatic movement, circa 1778.

However, it was not until after World War 1 – which popularized the use of wristwatches – where the automatic movement really took off. After all, the kinetic energy derived from the swinging of the arms far outweighed that of pocket watches. It was an English watch repairman by the name of John Harwood that realized this and invented the “bumper” automatic movement, where spring bumpers limited the rotation of the oscillating

weight to 180 degrees instead of the full 360 degrees.


When fully wound, Harwood’s “bumper” movement had a power reserve of 12 hours. The first automatic wristwatch was brought to market by Fortis in 1926, and was named the Harwood Automatic after its inventor.

Then came Rolex, who improved on Harwood’s “bumper” design and introduced an automatic movement that used a unidirectional rotor that would rotate 360 degrees. The movement was the heart of the brand’s Oyster Perpetual line in the 1930s, and featured 35 hours of

power reserve – almost triple that of Harwood’s “bumper” movement.


It can be said that Rolex modernized the automatic movement – most automatic movements of today still use a 360 degree oscillating unidirectional rotor.


Across the Pacific, Seiko was making waves with its automatic movements as well. In 1968, Seiko introduced the automatic calibre 61GS, which had a 36,000 bph beat rate – significantly faster than the conventional 21,600 bph of Swiss automatic movements at that time.

It debuted under the premium Grand Seiko range, which signified the innovation it represented at the time. It was also in the same year that Seiko placed first in the Geneva Observatory competition, surpassing not only its previous records but also its Swiss competitors.


PANZERA currently offers a range of watches that features the Seiko NH35A automatic movement – one of the most proven and established movements on the market. 


It’s accurate, reliable, and cheap to service, and even has some bells and whistles such as hacking seconds and a date window.

On the chronograph front, the most significant – and arguably most widely-used as well – automatic movement would be the Valjoux 7750. Introduced in 1974, the 7750 was Valjoux’s answer to Zenith’s automatic El Primero chronograph movement, and was billed as a more reliable and robust alternative to Zenith’s high beat offering. And due to its use of a cam operated lever as opposed to a column wheel, the 7750 was cheaper to produce, resulting in 7750-powered watches to have a lower price tag than column-wheel operated chronographs. 

Today, the Valjoux 7750 is still in use even after almost a century. From IWC to Tag Heuer, the 7750 remains a reliable workhorse for many esteemed Swiss brands – and Panzera, with the 7750 powering the Aquamarine Swiss Chronograph as well.