automatic watches

Automatic Watches: A Guide

The Beauty of Automatic Watches

What are Automatic Watches?

At its core, an automatic watch, also known as a self-winding watch, is a type of mechanical watch that doesn't require manual winding to keep running. Unlike quartz watches that rely on batteries, automatic watches are powered by the movement of your wrist. This movement winds the mainspring, which ultimately powers the watch. Automatic watches have a rich history, dating back to the 18th century when Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented the first self-winding mechanism in 1770.

The Mechanics of an Automatic Watch

To truly appreciate the beauty and functionality of automatic watches, let's take a closer look at their inner workings. At the heart of an automatic watch is the mainspring, a coiled metal ribbon that stores energy when wound. The mainspring is connected to a set of gears and a balance wheel, which controls the release of energy and powers the watch's movement.

What sets automatic watches apart from manual watches is the rotor. The rotor is a semi-circular, weighted piece that rotates freely within the watch case. As you move your wrist throughout the day, the rotor spins, winding the mainspring and keeping the watch powered. This ingenious automatic winding system eliminates the need for manual winding and ensures that the watch maintains accurate time as long as it is regularly worn.

Do You Have to Wind an Automatic Watch?

One of the most common questions about automatic watches is whether or not they need to be manually wound. The short answer is no, not if you wear the watch regularly. As long as you're wearing the watch and moving your wrist throughout the day, the rotor will continue to wind the mainspring, keeping the watch running smoothly. However, if the watch is not worn for an extended period and the power reserve is depleted, you will need to manually wind the watch to get it started again.

It's worth noting that some automatic watches have a manual winding option, allowing you to wind the watch by turning the crown. This feature can be useful if you know you won't be wearing the watch for a while and want to keep it running, or if you prefer to give your watch a little boost each morning to ensure it stays fully wound.

The Advantages of Automatic Watches

Now that we understand how automatic watches work, let's explore the advantages they offer. Automatic watches are highly sought-after by watch enthusiasts for several reasons:

  1. Convenience: One of the primary advantages of automatic watches is their convenience. Unlike manual watches that require regular winding, automatic watches wind themselves as you wear them. This eliminates the need to remember to wind your watch and ensures that it keeps running as long as you wear it regularly.
  2. Craftsmanship: Automatic watches are often prized for their intricate engineering and craftsmanship. The complex mechanisms within an automatic watch can be a source of fascination and appreciation for watch enthusiasts. From the precision of the gears to the elegant movement of the rotor, automatic watches showcase the artistry and skill of watchmakers.
  3. Smooth Movement: Unlike quartz watches, which have a ticking second hand, automatic watches feature a smooth, sweeping second hand. This continuous movement is often seen as a sign of a high-quality watch and adds a touch of elegance to the overall aesthetic.
  4. No Battery Replacement: Another advantage of automatic watches is that they don't require a battery. The movement of your wrist powers the watch, eliminating the need for frequent battery replacements. This not only saves you time and money but also reduces the environmental impact associated with disposable batteries.

Manual vs Automatic Watches

To fully appreciate the beauty of automatic watches, it's essential to understand the difference between manual and automatic watches. While both types are mechanical watches, their winding mechanisms set them apart.

A manual watch, as the name suggests, requires manual winding to keep it running. This is typically done by turning the crown, which winds the mainspring and powers the watch. Manual watches generally require daily or regular winding, depending on their power reserve.

On the other hand, automatic watches are designed to wind themselves as you wear them. The rotor within the watch case spins with the movement of your wrist, automatically winding the mainspring. As long as you wear the watch regularly, you won't need to worry about manual winding. However, if the watch is left unworn for an extended period, you may need to manually wind it to get it running again.

How to Wind an Automatic Watch

While automatic watches don't require regular manual winding, there may be times when you need to wind your watch manually. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to properly wind an automatic watch:

  1. Remove the watch from your wrist: To prevent accidentally over-winding the mainspring, take the watch off your wrist before winding it.
  2. Unscrew the crown (if applicable): If your watch has a screw-down crown, gently unscrew it by turning it counterclockwise until it pops out.
  3. Pull out the crown: Gently pull the crown out to the first position or the winding position, if your watch has multiple crown positions.
  4. Wind the watch: Turn the crown clockwise, slowly and steadily. You should feel some resistance as you wind the mainspring.
  5. Continue winding: Keep winding the watch until you feel the resistance increase, indicating that the mainspring is fully wound. Be cautious not to over-wind the watch, as this can potentially damage the mainspring.
  6. Screw down the crown (if applicable): If your watch has a screw-down crown, gently push it back in and screw it down by turning it clockwise.
  7. Wear and enjoy: Put the watch back on your wrist and enjoy your freshly wound timepiece!

Maintaining Your Automatic Watch

To ensure that your automatic watch continues to run smoothly and accurately, proper care and regular maintenance are essential. Here are some tips for maintaining your automatic watch:

  1. Regular cleaning: Wipe your watch regularly with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust, dirt, and sweat that can accumulate over time. This simple step will help preserve the watch's appearance and prevent any potential damage.
  2. Avoid magnets: Keep your watch away from magnets, as they can interfere with the watch's movement and affect its accuracy. Magnetic fields can disrupt the delicate balance of the watch's components, leading to timekeeping issues.
  3. Professional servicing: Have your watch serviced by a reputable watchmaker every few years. Regular servicing will help keep the watch's internal components in optimal condition and prolong its lifespan. During servicing, the watchmaker will clean, lubricate, and adjust the watch to ensure its accuracy and functionality.
  4. Check water resistance: If your watch has a water-resistant rating, have the seals checked during servicing. This precautionary measure will help prevent water damage and maintain the watch's water resistance. Avoid exposing your watch to excessive moisture or submerging it in water if it's not designed for such activities.
  5. Proper storage: When not wearing your automatic watch, store it in a cool, dry place. Avoid extreme temperatures and humidity, as they can affect the watch's movement and accuracy. Consider using a watch box or a watch roll to protect your timepiece from dust and scratches.

Is an Automatic Watch Right for You?

Choosing the perfect watch is a personal decision that depends on your preferences and lifestyle. If you appreciate the convenience of a watch that winds itself as you wear it, the craftsmanship and engineering behind mechanical movements, and the smooth, sweeping second hand, an automatic watch might be the ideal choice for you.

However, it's important to note that automatic watches require some maintenance and care to ensure optimal performance. Regular servicing, proper cleaning, and avoiding magnetic fields are essential for the longevity of your watch.

So, if you're captivated by the world of automatic watches, embrace the elegance and functionality they offer. With their timeless appeal and ingenious mechanical design, automatic watches are more than just timekeeping devices – they are a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of horology.

Take a look at our curated selection of automatic watches today at La Touraine.