How Automatic Watches Work

Finished Russian watch movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depending on your period, you may or may not recall seeing your father wind his watch each night before going to bed. If he did not, he would certainly awaken to a watch that had ceased. Those days became history with the arrival of the watch. What makes it automatic? It still has the same fundamental mechanism to keep the watch working, but how that mechanism is powered altered the way we cared for our watches.

All Time and Gems watches function in a similar manner. They need a movement of a chain of gears to “tick” of increments of time, which in turn registers as motions of the hands on the face of the watch. A rotor in the watch sits on a staff in the middle of the watch’s movement. It rotates in a circular motion and winds the mainspring which is the source of power in mechanical watches. With an automatic watch the winding of this spiral spring is done automatically with any arm or wrist action.

Self – winding, automatic watches work great for individuals who wear the watch each day, but it needs manual winding about twice a week, if you do not wear the watch often. Even automatic watches will remain working better if they are wound manually about once every two weeks because this helps keep the watch lubricated. It is a misconception that automatic watches never want any winding, since it all depends on the motion of the arm to keep it working well.