How Does an Automatic Watch Work?

Automatic Watch Movement

Learn More About Watch Repair

Most people who own an automatic watch do not understand exactly how it works, and therefore do not understand the demanding task it takes to keep it running smoothly.  An automatic watch is defined as a watch who’s movement is mechanical but winds itself.  Meaning, instead of having to manually wind the crown (which winds the mainspring) every day, the simple motions from wearing the watch will wind it.

Automatic winding movements are almost identical to manual winding movements with one major addition: the rotor.  The rotor turns and moves as the wearer turns and moves throughout any normal day.  This mimics the the action of someone manually winding the mainspring.  More modern automatic movements are able to wind the mainspring when the rotor moves both clockwise and counter clockwise.  Automatic watch movements usually have a power reserve (how long the watch will run) of up to two days.  This means the owner does not have to wind it before taking it off or going to sleep.

Automatic watches require a lot of maintenance.  Because the gears are constantly moving and the rotor is constantly spinning when worn, the watch needs to be fully lubricated.  If not, the gears can get stuck or even dry out and rust.  Normal upkeep on an automatic watch should be done every few years to ensure your watch is working properly.  Automatic movements are usually associated with the high end luxury watches that house them such as Rolex .  Like a car, a high end luxury watch needs to be kept in tip top shape.  Repairs and “oil changes” are necessary from time to time.  Taking your automatic watch to a certified watchmaker every couple years or so will make sure your watch is working perfectly.

*The first automatic winding movement was invented in 1770 for pocket watches*

by, Seth at Raymond Lee Jewelers

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