Roger features alongside George Daniels and John Harwood in ‘Master Watchmakers of the Isle of Man’
The Isle of Man Post Office is releasing a commemorative book of stamps to recognise the island's unique place in horological history titled “Master Watchmakers of the Isle of Man”.
Despite its small geographic size, the Isle of Man has a huge place in the history of British horology, having been the working home of three of our greatest watchmakers.
This is now being recognised in a beautiful collection of six stamps which features photographs of John Harwood, George Daniels, and Roger with some of their most famous watches.
John Harwood's stamp features his "Automatic 1929" wristwatch. Two stamps featuring George Daniels show his "Grand Complication" and "Space Traveller" pocket-watches. A stamp featuring both George and Roger shows their wristwatch "The Blue” (designed by George and built by Roger). Finally, the two stamps featuring Roger show his iconic "GREAT Britain" wristwatch.
For Roger, the stamp issue is a huge honour and a lovely commemoration of George Daniels. However, of utmost importance to Roger, curating this series of stamps created the opportunity to recognise, in John Harwood, an innovative watchmaker who has been largely forgotten by history.
“Britain’s long history of innovation is well documented but, during those ‘dark’ years of decline in watch production during the twentieth century, some British innovators who should have been giants, ended up in obscurity. John Harwood is one of these, having invented the self-winding wristwatch” explains Roger.
“This was a game-changer in watchmaking, not only because it helps render the mechanical watch a more practical and convenient timekeeper for its owner, but because he also invented it primarily to help avoid ingress to the watch via the winding mechanism which reduces its life.”.
As detailed in the delightful commemorative stamp book, John Harwood, who kept his workshop in Douglas on the Isle of Man, took his invention to Swiss watch companies such as Fortis in 1926. It was later adopted by Rolex who introduced their first self-winding watch in 1931 - advertising that it was, in fact, the first self-winding wristwatch, but later amending this by featuring Harwood on its advertisements.
John Harwood was sadly unable to fully benefit from his pioneering work - his own Harwood watch company was a victim of the Great Depression in the early 1930s and he drifted into obscurity.
“In advancing the mechanical watch at such a profound and practical manner, John Harwood is one of our greatest in my mind, and so it feels wonderful to have him recognised after all these years as the rightful inventor” says Roger.
Finding information and photographs of John Harwood was a significant challenge and we are very grateful to Justin Koullapis FBHI of The Watch Club for his considerable efforts to ensure Isle of Man Post Office were able to properly commemorate the man and his work.
The commemorative book of six stamps is available to order from the Isle of Man Post Office now, with a release date of August 11, 2020. Several options are available, including an informational booklet explaining the horological legacy of the Isle of Man in-depth, and a first day cover.