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What Is An Automatic Watch?






Unlike quartz watches, automatic watches are likened to a living entity and require the “owner” to take care of it because if not paying attention, not winding, or wearing it often, the watch will “die.” Many people wonder why they should purchase a mechanical watch (automatic) since they are more costly, more difficult to use, and less accurate than battery watches (quartz), electronic watches (digital), or smartwatches.

Indeed, in the age of electronic technology, even mobile phones or tablets have an accuracy of time even a hundred thousand times higher than a wristwatch.

However, today’s automatic mechanical watch is still one of the most popular wristwatches worldwide. At the same time, mechanical movements are still focused on improvement and continuous development by well-known brands of both tradition and modernity. So what is a mechanical watch that is so popular with so many people? Let’s find out now!

What Is An Automatic Watch?

Automatic Watch

1. Definition

A mechanical watch is assembled from purely mechanical parts, the active energy completely existing in the form of mechanical energy. When discussing automatic timepieces. This movement, also classified as a mechanical watch, is worthy of your attention. Unlike a mechanical movement, an automated one does not need to be wound each day.

In a nutshell, an automatic watch is a watch with a mechanical movement that powers itself using the kinetic energy you generate from swinging your arm. Automatic watches do not use batteries or any other electronic devices.

Automatic watches, especially famous Swiss ones, are mostly processed and decorated by skilled craftsmen. As a result, their lines look very delicate, sharp, and more luxurious than modern technological watches molded by machines.

Even though the first automatic watches arrived in the eighteenth century, they remained a niche product until the development of the wristwatch in the early twentieth century. Watches were formerly held in the pocket, but now they’re worn on the wrist, where they’re always moving in time. The automatic-winding technological breakthrough had finally arrived.

2. Composition and principle of operation

Composition and principle of operation automatic watch


The mainspring provides the necessary power when it comes to automated watch movements. Kinetic energy is supplied to the coil mainspring of an automated watch when the watch’s crown is wound. In addition, the mainspring is made tighter and tighter to store more energy, allowing it to store even more energy for eventual use.


A little wheel, known as a crown, is located on the side of the watch. The crown is rotated, which causes the watch to be wound and enabled to function.

Gear train

The energy held inside the mainspring is permitted to travel via the gear train, a tiny set of internal gears that drives the movement of the watch hands and other portions of the watch face when the watch is wound.


The escapement functions as a kind of internal braking mechanism inside the clockwork. The energy that has been transmitted from the mainspring to the gear train is ejected in equal halves, which is referred to as escapement (or escapement action).

Balance wheel

Balance wheels are internal components that beat in a circular motion five to ten times per second, depending on the speed of the machine.

Dial train

The dial train is the second gear set that works similarly to the gear train. However, the dial train sends an equal amount of energy from the balancing wheel to the watch hands, allowing the hands to move due to the energy transfer.


Several jewels are put into the center of a gear’s shaft to keep the gear in continuous motion while reducing the wear and tear caused by heat and friction.


The rotor is a half-circle-shaped metal weight. The rotor is coupled to the movement and may swing freely when the user swings their wrist. Wearing the watch causes the rotor to rotate, which causes the mainspring to spin, storing the wearer’s energy. 

When the mainspring is wound, a clutch attached to the rotor is in use, which means that the rotor can move. However, the rotor can’t wind the mainspring anymore when the clutch is engaged.

3. History of automatic watches

Abraham-Louis Perrelet

Because the manufacturing and components are expensive, most mechanical watches are usually from Switzerland and Japan.

– In 1770, the first automatic pocket watch was born by the skillful hands of Abraham-Louis Perrelet – one of the fathers of the mechanical watch industry. Perrelet created mechanical watches that converted the wearer’s movement into energy, allowing the timepiece to run for up to eight hours every day.

– In 1778, after French inventor Hubert Sarton came out with his automatic watch mechanism design, these watches were popular among the general public. In Paris, Sarton published his ideas and said that his automated watch designs influenced Perrelet.

–  In 1780, the first automatic timepieces were sold to the general public. However, unlike the famous wristwatches we all know now, these timepieces were not popular at the time. So instead, it turned out to be a pair of Abraham-Louis Breguet pocket watches. Breguet purchased Abraham-Louis Perrelet’s designs but made a few adjustments.

– In 1923, John Harwood, an English watchmaker, is credited with creating automated wristwatch mechanisms, giving birth to the concept of the Automatic watch. Harwood is credited with inventing the automatic wristwatch.

– In 1930, Harwood’s achievement paved the way for other watchmakers. They started to refine his first concepts with Rolex Oyster Perpetual 1930 model; the great Rolex brought automatic watches to the top, making them the dream of millions of watch lovers worldwide today.

– In the late 1940s, ball bearings were used in Eterna Watch’s automatic timepieces. This resulted in the more regulated movement of the watch’s internal components, resulting in a more precise and accurate timepiece.

4. Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and disadvantages


– No need to change the battery during wear.

– Luxury design, high value in terms of creativity and art.

Although watch production techniques have become much more modern in the manufacturing process, automatic watches are still forced to undergo manual processing in some parts. Therefore, these automatic watches are highly appreciated in terms of aesthetics and artistic value.

– Unlike quartz watches with rather monotonous and boring designs, the design of automatic watches is more diverse, unique, and strange such as open-heart, tourbillon, ultra-thin, and open-heart designs. Etc.

– Engine runs smoother.

– A type of watch that works on the principle of automatic winding by the operation of the user’s wrist. Just wear the watch in your hand and operate normally; the flywheel will rotate and transmit to the transmission wheels and rotate the mainspring cover.

– If users use them regularly, they will work stably, no need to manually wind up periodically.


Must wear watches often; otherwise, it takes a long time to initialize them to work normally again when restarting.

– Higher accuracy than quartz watches. Errors range from -20 to +30 seconds/day; high standard models have errors from -4 to +6 seconds/day (quartz watches are ± 20 to ± 15 seconds/month).

– High price.

– Unstable environment with many magnetic fields and electronic devices such as microwave ovens, magnets, etc.

– Not waterproof, difficult to repair due to the complex structure and many small details connected, so mechanical watches will be more difficult to repair.​

5. Classify

Sport Automatic watches

Based on the form of winding, people often divide Automatic watches into two types:

Automatic watches: You will not need to manually touch the mainspring; instead, just wear the watch in your hand for about 8 hours a day. The power stored in an automatic watch may keep a watch running for up to 48 hours if it is not worn.

Semi-Automatic Watch: This type of watch integrates both Automatic and self-winding, so if you don’t wear it long enough for the watch to reserve power, you can turn the crown to power the movement run sequentially.

6. Notes when using automatic watches

– The watch will automatically wind when the wearer moves their arm, but the user must regularly wear the watch for at least 8 hours a day. However, for an Automatic watch to run longer with a longer standby time, you should wind it by hand (twist the crown) about 10-15 times per week or purchase an automatic watch winder (Watch Winder).

– If you own an automatic watch, you should keep them away from factors such as shocks, moisture, chemicals, magnetic fields because the watch movement consists mainly of discrete metal parts, so it is very sensitive. When the glass breaks, entering the water must immediately go for repair and maintenance.

– Facedown with a fine cloth to help the mainspring last longer when not in use

– Remove the watch from your hand before adjusting because it is easy to bend the crown shaft when you withdraw the crown while wearing it.

Why Choose to Buy Automatic Watches?

Choose to Buy Automatic Watches

Two distinct groups of individuals exist regarding fashion; those who wear automatic watches and those who don’t. Both of these options are viable. Here are eight reasons to join the first group and purchase an automatic watch.

1. Always in style

Today, it is still a remarkable piece of technology since we live in a world where batteries nearly entirely power our lives. And, although battery-operated wrist machines have replaced many watches, there is a reason why the original technology has not been lost and continues to be used by some of the world’s most prominent and premium watch brands.

2. Automatic timepieces are a symbol of high-quality design and engineering

Simply said, manufacturing an automatic watch involves far more knowledge and time than crafting a battery-operated or quartz watch to create a product almost indistinguishable from the exterior while being significantly more costly. However, it is precise because of this artistry that the watches have earned their position in the hall of timelessness.

3. You are the watch’s power source

It’s hard to believe, but an automatic watch can operate independently without the wearer having to do anything. With each turn of your wrist, the watch’s “heart” beats a little louder, which is how many people refer to it. Starting and conserving energy for the heart’s gears is done by the rotor, a little element within the watch. As a result, you and your watch are more closely linked than ever before.

4. True automatics have a heart that beats silently

Although we identify the tic-tac-toe of a clock with our heartbeats, an automated watch does not have this sound. Because of this, each 60-second interval has the second hand advancing quietly and fast.

5. They’ll be around forever

When it comes to automatic watches, longevity is one of the most remarkable features. In contrast to a battery-powered or quartz watch, an automatic watch has an endless lifetime, paused only when the user stops winding or moving the internal mechanics of the clock. After years of slumber, an automatic watch may be brought back to life with the flick of the switch or the movement of the dial, much like Frankenstein’s monster.

6. A new tradition is being started, and an heirloom is being purchased

There is always more than one owner in an automatic watch because of this essential feature. An automatic wristwatch is handed down through generations since it will outlast everyone. Buying an automatic wristwatch is like buying a relic that will be passed down through generations of family and friends. Then pass it on to the next generation. This is what people will remember you for.

7. One is all you need

You don’t need more than one high-quality timepiece when it comes to watches. Everything goes with a decent automatic watch. A watch may become part of your distinctive style, unlike ties, shoes, or most other accessories. Only one is needed to create your personality. 

8. You’re investing your money!

A nice automatic wristwatch is like obtaining a fine piece of jewelry with genuine diamonds and actual materials instead of a vehicle, which depreciates the moment you sign the purchase contract. An automated watch has no expiry date and, if cared for correctly, may continue to appreciate for many years.

Reason Why Automatic Watches Too Expensive

Rolex Automatic Watches

For the most part, automatic watches are more costly than quartz watches because of the complexity of their mechanisms. However, it’s also important to consider the watch’s other components, which might affect the price.

Quartz and automatic movements are at the bleeding edge of technology. Mechanics are built to the highest standards. Steel is polished by hand, and bridges are ornamented and chamfered in certain situations. Components of the finest quality are closely inspected to satisfy very high production requirements.

The casing may be made from various materials, including plastic, steel, ceramics, and even precious metals. This information is usually found on the case back or in the accompanying paperwork. Watches with plastic casings tend to be cheaper and more common in the “fashion” category. There are several sports watches on the market made out of steel.

As a result, a watch made solely of precious metals (such as gold, silver, or platinum) might cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the cost of the metal and the complexity of making it.

There are a variety of crystals available to protect the dial’s face. In addition, there are a variety of finishes to choose from, including plastic, mineral, and even sapphire crystals.


How do you wind a self-winding watch?

The crown of a manual watch may wind the timepiece by twisting the hands. Other options include automated timepieces. A hardened disk in the watch monitors the movement of an automatic watch. Wearers will be able to crank the rotor and put the gears in motion while also rotating the spring automatically if they elevate their arms. You’ll be able to see this process in action right in front of your eyes if you flip your watch over.

What may be the source of a malfunctioning automated movement?

Dropping an automatic watch may cause the delicate internal mechanics to fail, making the watch unusable. Frequent usage of an automatic wristwatch without regular service maintenance may also result in abnormal wear and tear, which can prohibit the watch from functioning properly and cause it to stop operating altogether.

How dependable are automatic watches?

When you have an automatic watch personalized, you may expect it to be relatively accurate. Automatic mechanical timepieces, especially automated ones, can lose or win as much as two seconds every day and as little as one second per week. In addition, each automatic watch is unique, and once you have used your watch for some time, you will be able to determine how trustworthy it is.

What exactly are jewels?

Rather than using bearings, the watch’s internal movements are protected from wear and tear by using jewels. A jewel is a heat-absorbing material made of synthetic rubies and used to decrease friction in gears. These systems also enhance the accuracy and performance of the watch. So, why rubies? Rubies are durable stones that can endure friction well and are perfect for absorbing heat from gear movements.


Steven Ta
Steven Ta
I am a professional photographer and shoe-lover. With a deep-rooted passion for all things footwear and years of hands-on experience, I am your go-to guide in the awesome world of shoes
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