Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The difference between watch movement types is not a wind up!

Every now and then a customer asks us about watch movements and winding. It's easy to forget that what seems obvious to some is not to others and having grown up with mechanical watches and clocks, winding a mechanical movement to add power to it's spring everyday seems natural to us, but watch movement technology can be completely alien to others.
For those interested in how the motive power of their watch stacks up against the other options and learn a little about winding, read on...

Manual  Watch
Automatic Watch
Quartz Watch
Daily, by hand
Daily, by wearing the watch
Not required
Power source
How long does it take to wind (typically)
20 seconds
8 hours of daily wear
Not required
Power reserve (typical)
30 hours
42 hours
1-3 years depend on type
Commonly used in
Omega Moon watches
Cal 321 / 861 / 1861
Panerai base models
Unitas 6492
Most Patek Calatrava
Most Jaeger Reverso
Anything described as
Self-winding, perpetual, automatic etc.
No description on dial or "quartz" 
5 years
3-5 years
When required
Cost and resale value
Medium to high
Medium to high
Low to medium
Accuracy [COSC]
-4  / + 6 sec per day
-4  / + 6 sec per day
 1 sec/day or better

1.  Which type should you buy? 

To be honest any specific type of movement is very hard for us to recommend as there is nothing “wrong” with any of these of movements; their power sources are just different and some have features the others do not have. What we would say is that for buyers looking for accuracy, low maintenance and entry level price, the quartz models offer serious ‘bang for your buck’. For those who enjoy the knowledge that an intricately engineered mechanical movement is purring on their wrist, then your choice is already made. In previous newsletters we have discussed the delight many receive from their daily half a minute manual winding ritual, something we believe that everybody who loves watches should experience!

2. How to wind a manual wind watch?

To avoid confusion, it is recommended to wind the watch by rotating the winding crown forwards and backwards between finger and thumb. Typically 20 turns are needed until the spring is fully wound. At that stage resistance will be felt and the crown will no longer move in the direction of winding.

3. How to wind an automatic watch? 

Simply wearing an automatic watch will wind it. The oscillating weight (called 'rotor') which is connected to set of reverse wheels winds the main spring.

4. What is the "power reserve"? 

This is the amount of time that your watch will run for before it needs to be wound again.

5. Can I overwind a mechanical watch?

No. People often say a watch is ‘over-wound' but in reality spring is either wound or not.

6. Can I wind an automatic watch by hand? 

It depends on the watch. Some automatic watch movements can be handwound in the same manner as a manual watch, but the crown will not 'stop' when the spring is fully wound, however you may feel a light click at that point. It is important to understand that automatic watches are not design to be would manually.

7.  What is kinetc? 

Well... Probably too big a subject for today, let’s discuss it in another newsletter. In short: a cross-over between automatic and quartz.

Did you know? Manual wind watches have never said ‘Manual Wind’ on a dial, but Automatic and Quartz often proclaim their movement type in that manner. The reason is simple - why state the obvious? Automatic watches were first mass-produced after WW II. Before wrist watches, gentleman wore pocket watches which required daily manual winding. The oldest surviving pocket watch is one made by Peter Henlein in 1505.