Whether an automatic watch is your timepiece of choice, or you are considering getting one for the first time, it is important to understand the pros and cons of switching from a Quartz (Battery) powered watch, to an automatic watch. We take a look at some of the commonly asked questions that may help you to make a decision.
What is an Automatic Watch?
As its name suggests, an automatic watch is self running, thanks in large part to the movements that you make when you are wearing it. Unlike a quartz watch that is powered by a battery, the energy of an automatic timepiece is created inside the watch using a half disc metal weight that acts as a rotor that generates and stores energy to wind the gears. This means that you, as the wearer, are effectively the power source for your watch, creating a unique connection between you and the timepiece.
How long will an unworn watch hold power?
Generally speaking, a fully wound automatic watch will hold power anywhere between 24- 48 hours. After this time, the movement will stop and your watch will lose time. After this the watch will need to be re wound either by manually winding using the crown or by your own movements.
What do I need to do to look after my automatic watch?
Your automatic watch has three main enemies: Moisture, Shock and Magnetism. Whilst most watches have an ATM rating that details its resistance to moisture, unless your watch is a specific dive watch it is practical to try to keep it away from liquid as much as possible. If you notice the mineral glass has fogged up, this is a sign that moisture has entered the watch. Sudden shock, such as dropping the watch may result in the intricate movement being damaged that will result in the watch malfunctioning, whilst exposure to a high magnetic field, such as a sound amplifier can also affect the accuracy of the watch.
How do I wind an automatic watch?
The basic architecture of most mechanical watches is the same, proving what an ingenious design and machine it is. The power for the watch comes from the unwinding of a tightly coiled flat spring. Your natural movements will power the watch, but here are some things to follow if you are going to self wind your watch.
- Wind the watch off your wrist to minimise stress on the winding stem.
- Don’t over-wind. Stop when you feel resistance, or else you could break the spring.
- If it is self winding, just strap it on and enjoy
How often should I service my watch?
Like a car, your automatic watch requires regular maintenance and servicing to ensure it continues to perform at its best. Most sources recommend that you should service your automatic watch between 2-7 years depending on its usage and care. Just take it to your local jeweller or watch repair shop and you can enjoy your timepiece for decades to come.
Why are automatic watches more expensive than quartz watches?
Automatic watches are generally more expensive than their quartz counterparts. This is in large part due to the craftsmanship that is required to manufacture and produce a mechanical watch, in comparison to a Quartz watch. Depending on the design, automatic watches can contain anywhere from 130-400 components all expertly assembled to create a finely tuned mini machine, that if properly maintained, can last a lifetime.
And Finally…. Respect for traditions
Despite all advisable rules and steps to follow to get the most from your automatic watch, it is still one of the most reliable tools you can have. Unlike your smart watch, or mobile phone it doesn’t run out of battery! Much like you wouldn’t wait for your car engine to blow up before you take it to a garage, the same applies for your watch. Show love and care for your watch. Service and clean it regularly and respect the craftsmanship and heritage of an invention that is hundreds of years old.