A clockmaker, also sometimes known as a "horologist," is an artisan who makes and repairs clocks, and sometimes other similar mechanical devices that involve clockwork, including watches and scientific instruments.
The earliest known usage of the English word clokkemaker dates from 1390, about a century after the first mechanical clocks began to appear. Originally, clockmakers were among the most highly skilled and knowledgeable artisans around, as their craft required high levels of artistry, design, and mathematical precision. Up through the 1700s, clockmakers continued to grow more and more important, especially for their ability to design scientific instruments such as the extremely precise clocks needed to calculate longitude to assist in ship navigation. By the 17th century, there were large numbers of clockmakers in all major European cities, and clockmakers organized themselves into powerful guilds, such as London's "Worshipful Company of Clockmakers."
As the most sophisticated, "cutting-edge" tech workers of their day, clockmakers received immense respect and admiration, and the best and most skillful commanded exorbitantly high fees. In the 1700s, Enlightenment-era Deist philosophers even compared God to a clockmaker, who constructed a clockwork universe that was largely self-functioning and then left it to its own devices.
Until 1800 or so, all clocks and watches were crafted entirely by hand. In later years, however, clocks and watches increasingly came to be manufactured by machines in factories. In the 19th century their came to be a surfeit of clockmakers, and some of them tried to survive by branching out into constructing ever more elaborate clockwork creations, such as clockwork automatons. Nevertheless, the trade of the clockmaker has survived down to the present day, primarily to repair clocks and watches that break. A certain number of clockmakers will also always be needed to create or repair antique, handmade, or one-of-a-kind clocks for which off-the-shelf or mass-produced solutions do not exist.