Horology has been at the forefront of scientific discovery since the time of the Ancient Greeks. Below is a list of the most notable discoveries and achievements.

Date Invention Inventor Nationality
possibly 3rd C. BC Toothed Wheel possibly Archimedes (c.287 BC–c.212 BC)  Ancient Greek
14th C. Verge Escapement Unknown Unknown (possibly Britain)
c.1430 Mainspring Unknown Unknown (possibly Germany)
 15th C. Pocket Watch Unknown Unknown (possibly Germany)
1602 Pendulum Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) Italian
1657 Anchor Escapement  Robert Hooke (1635–1703) British
1657 Balance Spring  Robert Hooke (1635–1703) British
1687 Repeating Mechanism Daniel Quare (1649-1724) British
1690 Minute Hand Daniel Quare (1649-1724) British
1695 Cylinder Escapement Thomas Tompion (1639–1713) British
1700 Duplex Escapement Robert Hooke (1635–1703) British
1704 Jewelled Bearings Nicolas Fatio de Duillier (1664-1753)  Swiss
1715 Dead beat Escapement George Graham (1673–1751)  British
1730  Marine Chronometer John Harrison (1693–1776)  British
1753 Temperature Compensation John Harrison (1693–1776) British
1755 Lever Escapement Thomas Mudge (1715–1794)  British
1760 Gravity Escapement Thomas Mudge (1715–1794) British
1760 Going Barrel Jean-Antoine Lepine (1720-1814)  French
1765 Centre Seconds John Whitehurst (1713 –1788) British
1782 Spring Detent Escapement John Arnold (1736 –1799)  British
1790 Anti-shock Device  Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747–1823) French
1795 Breguet Overcoil  Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747–1823) French
1801 Tourbillon Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747–1823)  French
1807 Chronograph Thomas Young (1773–1829) British
 1843 Keyless Work Jean Adrien Philippe (1815–1894)  French
 1868 Pin Pallet Escapement Georges F. Roskopf (1813–1889)  German
1921 Quartz Oscillator Walter Guyton Cady (1874–1974)  American
1923 Self Winding Mechanism John Harwood (1893–1964) British
 1974 Co-axial Escapement George Daniels (1926-2011)  British


  1. Matt Webb

    Fantastic to see the time line. Even better to see some of the most iconic revolutions by british watchmakers.

  2. Alexis Delon

    Nicely organised table. Interesting to see that British time keepers invented a lot of things we currently use in watchmaking. Why is it that Switzerland has the monopoly of the watchmaking world?

    1. Colin

      Hi Alexis, that’s a question with a long answer! The short answer is that the Swiss were far better at adopting mass-production in watch manufacture. They also had invested so heavily in the industry that when the watch industry collapsed elsewhere in the world after the emergence of the electronic watch, they were stubbourn and persisted on. Most watch companies went bust and were bought up cheapily by conglomorates like Swatch or the Richemont Group. Then the mechanical watch came back into fashion and the industry started to grow again. By this stage is was only the Swiss left, so they were the monopoly by default.

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