Automatic mechanical Watches

Automatic mechanical watches, or those that rely on gears and mechanics to operate, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years after a boom of quartz watches.Also known as self-winding or perpetual, automatic watches wind themselves using an internal moving weight that winds or rotates when the wearer moves their arm, transferring energy to a power reserve and keeping the watch working.These watches require no batteries and can be considered “clean energy,” powered by humans. While they do not require daily winding, it is a good idea to wind an automatic watch every so often to ensure that they keep accurate time and enjoy a long life.

Winding your Watch
  1. Keep your arm moving.

     The automatic watch is built with an oscillating metal weight, or rotor, that tracks movement. The oscillating rotor is attached to gears inside the watch that are in turn attached to the mainspring. When the rotor moves, it moves the gears which, in turn, winds the mainspring. This stores energy in the mainspring so that the watch continues ticking. If the watch is not being moved in regular, everyday motion, the mainspring’s energy winds down. If you wear your watch and keep your arm in regular movement, this should be enough to keep the rotor moving and winding up the mainspring. This doesn’t mean, however, that your arm needs to be in constant motion. Automatic watches are built to respond to average, everyday movement in order to keep them working.

    • Typically, automatic watches store energy for up to 48 hours so that they continue working without needing additional winding.
    • People who are not very active, such as elderly people or those confined to bed, may need to wind their automatic watches with more frequency. If you are sick and laid up in bed, your watch may wind down since it’s not getting regular everyday movement.
    • Avoid wearing watch when playing sports that require continuous hand or arm movement, such as tennis, squash or basketball. This will interfere with the automatic winding mechanisms, which are built for regular, everyday arm movement.
  2. Take the watch off your wrist. While an automatic watch is intended to restore its energy by the rotor winding the mainspring through the motion of your arm, it does also require periodic manual winding to keep the mainspring tight. In order to ensure that the crown is not overly strained when you pull it out and wind it, you should take it off your wrist. Then you will be able to have the right leverage and angle to carefully pull the crown out.
    • If the watch is waterproof, the crown may be screwed down to provide added waterproofing. You may need to unscrew this crown by turning carefully 4 to 5 times. When you wind the watch, you will push down on the crown at the same time, which will screw it back into place. 
      Locate the crown. The crown is the little dial knob usually on the right side of the watch. This knob can be pulled out to set the time and date on the watch. It does not need to be pulled out, however, in order to engage the winding mechanism. The crown usually has three positions or settings that engage certain functions. The first position is when it is pushed all the way in and the watch operates normally. The second position is when the crown is pulled out halfway; this is the position for setting the time or date (depending on your watch). The third position is when the crown is pulled out all the way; this is the position for setting the time or date (depending on your watch)
  3. Turn the crown clockwise. Gripping the crown with your forefinger and thumb, twist it gently in a clockwise manner (moving it from bottom to top towards the 12 on the watch face if you are looking directly at the watch). Turn it approximately 30-40 times or until the second hand starts moving in order to fully wind the watch. Winding keeps the mainspring tight and at full energy reserve, which is also supplemented by keeping your watch in motion.
    • Contrary to popular belief, you cannot typically over-wind an automatic watch. Modern automatic watches are constructed to protect against this possibility. You should still be very gentle when turning the crown and stop winding when you feel resistance.
  4. Always set the time by moving forward. When winding your watch, you may accidentally move the watch hands if you pull the crown out at all. If this happens, reset the time by moving the watch hands forward in time to reach the correct time again. Your watch is built to move its hands forward, not backward, so it is better to keep the gears and interior mechanisms working in their intended manner
  5. Make sure the crown is pushed all the way in. Gently push on the crown to ensure that it is pushed all the way back in. If you have a waterproof watch, you may need to double check to make sure that the crown has been screwed into place. Pinch the crown with your forefinger and thumb and tighten it while pushing it in
  6. Compare your watch’s timekeeping with another watch. If your watch has been properly wound, it should keep time that is consistent with other timepieces. If you think the watch is still not performing up to standard, you might ask a watch repair shop to test your watch on a timing machine. This instrument will measure its timekeeping and speed in order to determine if it is slow or fast.
  7. Wind the watch fully if it hasn’t been worn in a while. Automatic watches rely upon motion to keep working, and they may run down if they have been sitting in their box or in a drawer for more than a few days. Turning the crown on a watch 30-40 times will wind it fully and ensure it is ready to wear. Turn the crown until the second hand starts moving so you know that the watch has started keeping time. You will also likely need to reset the time and date.