A clockmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs clocks. Since almost all clocks are now factory-made, most clockmakers today just repair clocks. However, originally they were master craftsmen who designed and built clocks by hand. Since modern clockmakers are required to repair antique, handmade or one-of-a-kind clocks for which parts are not available, they must still have some of the design and fabrication abilities of the original craftsmen. A qualified clockmaker can typically design and make a missing piece for a clock without access to the original component.
The earliest use of the term, clokkemaker, is said to date from 1390, about a century after the first mechanical clocks appeared. Prior to 1800 clocks were entirely handmade, including all their parts, in a single shop under a master clockmaker. By the 1800s, clock parts were beginning to be made in small factories, but the skilled work of designing, assembling, and adjusting the clock was still done by clockmaking shops. By the 1900s, interchangeable parts and standardized designs allowed the entire clock to be assembled in factories, and clockmakers specialized in repair.
From its beginning in the 15th century through the 17th century clockmaking was considered the "leading edge", most technically advanced trade existing. Historically the best clockmakers often also built scientific instruments, as for a long time they were the only craftsmen around trained in designing precision mechanical apparatus. In one example, the harmonica was invented by a young German clockmaker, which was then mass produced by another clockmaker, Matthias Hohner.