Automatic wristwatches have been around nearly a century. It was after world war one when they became popular and in 1923 the first self-winding wristwatch appeared. It was invented by a English chap called John Harwood a watch repairer from Bolton in the UK. He took out a UK patent with his financial backer, Harry Cutts, on the 7th July 1923. They then obtained a corresponding Swiss patent on 16th October 1923.
If your newly purchased automatic watch is running either too quickly, too slowly or even worse it seems to have stopped, don't panic! An automatic watch is a complicated mechanical device and has a feel that no regular quartz wristwatch has. Automatic watches need a mechanical sympathy and understanding to fully appreciate their worth.
Automatic watches have a running in period and may take some time to start keeping good time,
this is true especially for cheaper value for money automatic movement watches. Normally watches labelled chronometer tend to take less time to run in.
Automatic watches need their main spring to be wound completely in order to keep good time.
The best way to do this is to wear the watch as much as possible even continuously, or to use a watch winder
over night to help distribute the oil around internally, and to help break in the many cogs and gears.
Generally, with more expensive automatic wristwatches you can initiate the watch by manually winding the crown clockwise around 40 to 50 revolutions. Like most mechanical devices, a new automatic watch (or one that has been idle for some time) has a break-in period that lasts for around 30 days or so.
During this time, you will be required to wear the watch continuously or have a purpose made watch winder do the job for you.
Below are a few tips to help you with your automatic watch if you have any of the above problems.
Take your watch off at night and place down according to your issue below:
i. If your watch is running a little slow : lay it flat down with the dial facing up.
ii. If your watch is running a little fast : lay the watch vertically with the crown facing downwards.
iii. If your watch is running much too fast: lay the watch vertically with the crown facing up.
If your automatic watch is still running fast or slow by a larger margin, the most likely cause is that the mainspring may have gotten itself caught on one of the small screws inside of the watch. To free the mainspring up place the watch in your palm with the crystal facing down and gently tap the case back, this should free up the mainspring and it should start keeping good time again.
For your automatic wristwatch to have a full power reserve (some have up to 50 hrs) it has to be worn for
8 hours a day minimum. If you have not worn the watch for a couple of days, you can initiate the watch again
by manually rotating the crown clockwise for at least 30 to 40 revolutions. If you have given your watch
time to settle and tried all of the above it should start to keep good time.
For a small cost, a local watchmaker, repairer or watch retailer should be able to regulate your automatic watch and free up the mainspring if it is stuck.
Like your car, automatic watches need periodic servicing to run well and remain problem free. For automatic watches to keep good time, you are advised to have this servicing done at a reputable watch repairers at least every 3-5 years.
Look after your automatic timepieces and they will look after you. They will give you great service and joy
for many years to come so you can hand them on to loved ones, and then they too will get some of the enjoyment, satisfaction and appreciation of ownership of these beautiful mechanical timepieces as you did!
Guide to Automatic Watch ownership
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12 October 2012
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