Do automatic watches need to be wound?

Do automatic watches need to be wound?

The simple answer to this question is yes. All automatic watches need to be wound before they can function properly. But why? How to automatic watches work? And how do I wind my own automatic timepiece?

What is an automatic watch?

If you are someone new to the world of watches, then learning about the different types of watch movements can at first seem a little daunting. In order to keep things simple, we will discuss the two key types of watch movements: quartz and mechanical. Within this, there are then two sub-types of mechanical movements: automatic and manual winding.

Quartz watches are the easiest to understand since they are simply powered by a battery. Mechanical movements on the other hand are a little more complicated. Both automatic and manual winding watches consist of a combination of intricate components including something called the mainspring. The mainspring must be wound up before the movement will work. The spring stores and transfers the energy through a series of gear components including a balance wheel and an escapement, regulating a release of energy to power the watch’s functions.

What is the difference between manual winding and automatic movements?

Although both manual winding and automatic movements are powered by the same components, how you wind them up differs. It is easy to remember which is which simply by their names.

A manual winding movement must be physically wound by hand by turning the crown. As you turn the crown, the mainspring is charged up to store energy and then unwinds at a limited speed to power the functions on the dial.

An automatic movement can also be wound up by turning the crown, but it is also equipped with a component called the oscillating rotor. Every time you move, energy is created by the oscillating rotor which spins around and winds the mainspring which then powers the watch’s functions.

How often do I need to wind my watch?

Now that you know how an automatic watch works, it is easier to explain how often you need to wind one. Every mechanical watch has a set power reserve which is usually somewhere between 38 and 240 hours. This gives you an idea of how often you need to power your watch.

If you have a manual winding watch, you will have to wind the crown 30-40 times every time the power runs low after the set number of hours have passed. If you own an automatic watch, you will not need to wind it if you are wearing it regularly and before the power reserve runs out. If you do let your automatic watch run low, you can either wind it by the crown or shake the watch a few times to get the oscillating rotor spinning.

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