Automatic watches (which work with gears and a mechanism) have become much more popular in recent years, after quartz watch craze. These watches are also called winding watches or automatic watches, wind themselves with the help of an internal moving weight that moves or turns when the wearer moves the arm, whereby energy is transferred to an energy source that makes the timepiece tick. Such watches do not require batteries and are considered ‘clean energy’, powered by humans. Although you don’t have to wind them up every day, it is a good idea to occasionally do this with an automatic watch, to ensure that it keeps track of time accurately and lasts longer.
There are 3 ways to set and wind you watch
There are methods to set and wind your automatic watch. We explain every method in the rest of the article.
- Keep moving your arm
- Wind it manually
- Use a watchwinder
Method 1: Keep moving your arm.
An automatic watch is built with an oscillating metal weight (or rotor) that tracks the movement. The oscillating rotor is linked to gears within the watch which are in turn coupled to the drive. If the rotor moves, the gears start turning, in turn, winding up the drive. This saves energy in the drive, so that the watch keeps ticking. If the watch is not moved by normal daily movement, the drive will contain less and less energy. If you wear your watch and your arm moves regularly, this should be enough to keep the rotor moving and to wind the drive. However, this does not mean that you must keep your arm moving constantly. Automatic watches are built in such a way that average, daily movement is enough to keep ticking.
- Most automatic watches store their energy for up to 48 hours so that they continue to work without having to be wound up more often.
- People who are not very active, such as the elderly or who are bedridden, may have to wind their automatic watch more often. If you are sick and need to stay in bed, your watch may eventually stop ticking because it does not get the normal daily movement.
- Do not wear such a watch during sports where you constantly move your hand or arm quickly, such as tennis, squash or basketball. This will disrupt the automatic winding mechanisms that are built for normal, everyday arm movements.
Method 2: Wind it manually
Take the watch off your wrist. Although an automatic watch is intended to store energy through the rotor that drives the drive from the movement of your arm, such a mechanism must also be wound manually periodically, so that the drive stays taut. To ensure that the crown does not become overly tense when you pull it out and wind it up, take the watch off your wrist. Only then will you have the correct leverage and angle to carefully pull the crown out.
Find the crown. The crown is the button that is usually located on the right side of the watch. You can pull this button out to set the date and time on the watch. This is not necessary to wind up the watch. The crown usually has three positions or settings that perform certain functions. The first position is when the crown is not pulled out. The second position is when the crown is pulled out halfway; this is the position for setting the time (or the date, depending on your watch). The third position is when the crown is pulled all the way out; this is the position for setting the date (or the time, depending on your watch).
- If the watch is waterproof, the crown may be screwed down for extra water resistance. You may have to unscrew the crown by carefully tightening it four or five times. When winding the watch, simultaneously push the crown down to screw it back on.
Turn the crown clockwise. Grasp the crown between your thumb and forefinger, and gently turn it clockwise (from top to bottom towards the 12 on your watch when looking at your watch from above). Turn the crown about 30-40 times, or until the second hand starts to move, to fully wind the watch. Winding keeps the motive tight and full of energy, which can be supplemented by keeping your watch moving.
Always set the time by moving forward. While winding your watch, you can accidentally move the hands while pulling the crown all the way out. If this happens, reset the time by turning the watch’s hands forward in time to return to the correct time. Your watch is built to move the hands forward, not backward, so it is better to let the wheels and the mechanism work in their intended way.
Make sure the crown is pushed all the way in again. Gently push the crown to make sure it is pushed all the way in. If you have a waterproof watch, you may have to double check to make sure the crown is screwed into place. Hold the crown between your thumb and forefinger and screw it tight while pushing the button inwards.
Compare the time of your watch with another watch. If your watch is well-wound, it should coincide with other timepieces. If you think the watch is still not functioning properly, ask a watch technician if the timing of your watch can be tested. A timing device will measure the timekeeping and speed to determine if it is running slow or too fast.
Fully wind the watch if it has not been worn for a while. Automatic watches need movement to keep ticking, and they can stand still if they have been in a box or drawer for more than a few days. Turn the crown of the watch 30-40 times to fully wind it up, ready to wear. Turn the crown until the second hand starts to move so that you know the watch has started ticking. You probably also need to reset the time and date.
Method 3: Use a watchwinder
Choose the type of watchwinder that you need. A watchwinder is a device that continues to wind automatic watches when they are not worn, by moving the watch in a circular pattern and thereby imitating the movement of your arm. These can vary in price from € 50 to € 400, with top models of up to € 8,000. There are functional, elegant and extravagant models of watchwinders.
- Functional watch winders look good, with nice designs, but they are almost fully functional. These are usually a bit cheaper. Cheap watchwinders are often very unreliable and not worth their price, no matter how low.
- Elegant watchwinders have a better quality case, are made of wood or leather and are usually a bit nicer, and look great on a shelf or sideboard. They are often small enough to be stored in a drawer or locker.
- Extravagant watchwinders can be found at the top of the price range. These are usually made of luxury materials and made to store multiple watches. They can have functions such as temperature control, boxes, synchronized time displays and USB connections.
Choose how many watches you want to be able to wind at the same time. There are devices for one watch or for multiple watches. If you have several watches that you often wear, you can choose to purchase a watchwinder that can hold several watches at the same time.