This question is a common one and one with an answer that depends greatly on the type of watch you have and how often you wear it.
There are two types of mechanical watches: manual winding and automatic. A manual winding watch can be wound up by turning the crown on the side of the case. An automatic watch can also be wound by the crown or by the movements of your wrist. The kinetic energy created as you swing your arm turns the oscillating rotor on the inside to power the watch.
But how do I need how often to wind my watch? Well, every mechanical watch – both automatic and manual winding – will have a set power reserve. These vary depending on the type of movement your watch is fitted with, but usually higher end watches have longer power reserves. Power reserves can vary between 38-240 hours and it is important for you to make sure you know the power reserve of your watch before you purchase it, as it can make a huge difference to how you like wearing it.
The power reserve is the time it will take from the watch to go from being fully powered to having no power at all and all functions stopping. So with a manual winding watch, once you have fully wound the watch, you will not have to wind it again for that period of time. Automatic watches are slightly different since the movements you make while wearing it will keep the watch topped up during the day. However, if you take an automatic watch off your wrist for a long period of time, it will eventually stop.
How many times do I need to wind my mechanical watch to get it powered again?
With manual winding watches, most watch manufacturers suggest turning the crown between 30-40 times to get the watch fully wound again if it has lost all power. With automatic watches, you can also simply shake the watch a few times and let the oscillating rotor inside wind the mainspring to get power again. You will then need to wear the watch for at least 8-10 hours to ensure it is fully wound.
Can a mechanical watch be overwound?
Another common question we get is whether mechanical watches become damaged if overwound? The answer is simply, no. Unless you have bought from a dodgy manufacturer, all mechanical watches are equipped with a mechanism within the movement that disengages the winding gears from the mainspring once it is fully wound. This way you can feel confident knowing that you are not causing any damage to the movement if you continue to turn the crown once it is fully wound.
How do I know when my watch is fully wound?
As we have said previously, if you are wearing an automatic watch for more than 8-10 hours a day you can be pretty certain your watch is fully wound. With manual winding watches, some timepieces are equipped with a system where you will begin to feel some resistance once the watch is fully wound, others also make a faint ‘click’ sound. If your watch is not equipped with either of these features, you can just wind your watch between 30-40 times. Some watches are also equipped with power reserve indicators. This allows you to see how much power you have remaining in the watch by a clever feature on the dial.