How Does Automatic Watches Work?

Thousand times you looked at your watch but have you ever thought about, “How does automatic watches work?” What is the power that makes the watch move and keeps you on schedule? If not then it will be the right option for you to know the very informative and interesting things about something you dare so much.

What is an automatic watch?

Nowadays we are mostly adopting the trendy and fashionable lifestyle. An automatic watch is such an opportunity to give you a very trendy look.

An automatic watch winds by itself or automatically. Another name for automatic watches is self-winding watches. An automatic watch is different from a manual watch; it has no internal battery. That’s why it works with the wearer’s movement.

Automatic watches are trendy because the wearer doesn’t need to worry about winding the watch daily. An automatic watch doesn’t need winding if you wear it every day. Almost all luxury watches we found today are automatic.

How Does Automatic Watches Work?

First of all, we have to figure out that a watch is a machine. So, many processes are required in the whole watchmaking steps, and excellent craftsmanship is necessary for the watchmaking industry. All automatic watch parts are arranged systematically to work out an automatic watch in its own way. Precision and accuracy are the core of a watch, and every watchmaker must ensure a timepiece’s functionality.

What is Watch Movement?

The watch movement is what makes the watch tick, operate, function, and run. It is also called caliber and watch movement is the core of a watch. A caliver is an essential mechanism that makes the watch hands move. When it comes to automatic watch, how the movement works?

Automatic watch movements use a rotor to run the watch, and the rotor is made with heavy material. When the watch wearer moves the wrist, the rotor spins and the spinning motion turns into energy that winds the mainspring. Many automatic watches are made with see-through back cases to see the watch’s mechanism.  

There are three types of movements in today’s world: Manual, mechanical, and quartz. Most mechanical watches feature an automatic watch, and they only require to wear them regularly to keep them running.

Brief History Of Automatic Watches 

There may peep a question in your mind that who is the invertor and where the watch concept came from, which take s much important in your daily life. Then let’s have a look to clear yourselves.  

Swiss Watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet is the inventor of the first self-winding mechanism watch. He created the first self-winding watch in the late 1770s.

In 1778 Hubert Sarton invented the automatic watch movement, and these timepieces became popular. In 1780 people wore their first automatic watches. 

After World War I the real revolution of the automatic watch came. At that time, manufacturers finally produced small wristwatches with automatic winding. 

John Harwood invented the automatic wristwatch movement in 1923. In 1928 he started mass-producing automatic watches. These watches last for up to twelve-hour when fully charged.

What are the Main Components of Automatic Watch Movements?


The mainspring of an automatic watch is the power source. The crown of this watch transfers kinetic energy to the coil mainspring by wounding. 

The mainspring becomes tighter and tighter by storing energy. This mainspring stores more energy later.


A small wheel on the side of a watch calls a crown. Turning off the crown winds the watch and boosts it to run. It is an essential component of automatic watch movements.

Balance Wheel

 A balance wheel is an internal component of the automatic watch movements. It beats five to ten times per second in a circular motion.

Gear Train

The gear train helps to pass the stored energy within the mainspring. The small series of internal gears make the watch hands and other parts of the watch face move. 

For improving the speed of the mainspring, the gears allow it to power the watch for several days before wounding again.


The escapement is an internal braking system. This escapement transfers the energy from the mainspring to the gear train and is expelled in equal parts.

Dial Train

The dial train is similar to the gear train. The dial train transfers energy from the balance wheel into the watch hands, enabling them to move. Dial trains are a crucial part of the automatic watch. Without the dial train, the automatic watch doesn’t move.


Jewels are synthetic rubies, and these jewels are put into the middle of a gear. It keeps the gear in continuous motion and prevents friction and heat.


The rotor looks like a half-circle, and it is a metal weight. The movement of a watch is attached to a rotor, and it can swing freely. 

If the wearer moves, the rotor moves. Where the energy is stored, the rotor twists it and transfers power to the mainspring. The full wound of the mainspring attached to a clutch to the rotor is engaged. If the rotor winds the mainspring, the clutch prevents it from doing this further.

How Do Automatic Watches Work?

Automatic watches work with self-winding. When the user wears a watch on the wrist and moves the hand, this automatic watch gathers energy to work. How automatic watches work:

  • Automatic watches store energy in the mainspring
  • Mainspring gathers strength from your daily movement
  • The mainspring rolled the gear 
  • Inside this watch has a rotor that causes energy, and then other mechanisms follow it
  • An automatic watch reserves its power for 41 hours
  • Once consuming energy, the watch stops working temporarily. As it is automated so when the wearer wears it on the wrist in the right way, it will start working

Difference Between Manual Watches and Automatic Watches

There are many differences between manual watches and automatic watches. Automatic watches are called self-winding watches. Manual watches need to wind manually.

Manual Watches

The earliest types of watches are manual watches. They are now very accurate for their lots of improvement. By turning the crown manually, you will need to wound the mainspring.

If you wind up and turn the crown, the spring gets loaded with potential energy. If you release the crown, the mainspring unwinds slowly. 

The mainspring moved slowly to produce energy and transferred it using an advanced gear system. The gear system moves and causes the clock hands to move. You will need to wound the mainspring periodically to power the watch system since mechanical watches don’t use cells. 

You may need to do this every day or after two days before you wear the watch.

Automatic Watches

Automatic watches or self-winding watches are considered the second type of mechanical movement. Automatic watches developed from manual watches.

The automatic watches tell time from the energy of the mainspring. These watches automatically use a rotor to wind the mainspring. The rotor is a circular disc that wound up the spring. 

If you move your body, the rotor will turn. When the rotor moves, it winds the mainspring automatically. So, consciously you don’t need to wind the spring. 

If you use automatic watches daily, it will work continuously for a long time. If you keep the watches on the table for more than two days, it will stop working. To start working again, you will need to wound the crown manually.

How Accurate Are Automatic Watches?

When your timepiece is the most important device to operate you to every work then the accuracy of the thing must be very precious.

The accuracy differs from caliber to caliber. Standard automatic watches are 99.97% accurate. When an automatic watch is not worn for some days, it affects the accuracy of the watch. An automatic watch with +/- 10 seconds a day is acceptable. A normal automatic watch usually +/- 5 seconds per day.

Automatic Watch Accuracy Test

The Control Official Suisse Des Chronometers (COSC) is an organization that tests the accuracy of timepieces. Chronometers are used to test and certify the precision.

The COSC is a non-profit organization founded to test, measure, and certify accurate timepieces. If you are looking for a watch that has been approved by COSC, it will assure you that the timepiece is accurate.

Every brand of watch has a serial number from COSC. It is engraved on the watch to pass the 16 days test with a chronometer. For a trial, the period has survived under different positions and temperatures. 

Types of Watch Movements and Differences

Watch movements are the heart of watches. There are different types of watch movements, and they have their positive and negative side.

Three types of watch movement:

  • Manual movement
  • Automatic movement 
  • Quartz movement 

Manual Movement

Manual movements are one of the oldest movements among the three movements. It runs by a mainspring; for manual movements, you must create the energy by winding yourself to run the watch. It would be best if you wind the manual watch every day.

The accuracy of the manual watch is not good. It could stop unexpectedly. It would help if you tuned up every few years for functionality. Manual watches are quite expensive, and repair costs are also costly.

How Mechanical Movement Works
  • To power, a watch’s mechanical movement uses energy from the wound mainspring
  • The spring of mechanical movement transfers energy through several gears and springs. It also powers the function of watch hands

Automatic Movement

Automatic moments work the same as manual watches; you don’t need to wind them yourself. An automatic watch is built with a mechanism to wind by itself with the wearer’s wrist movements.

Automatic watch accuracy is good but not great. These watches can occasionally stop, and they need to be reset manually. Automatic watch mechanisms are very complicated because they have self-winding. Most of the luxury brands built automatic watches.

How Automatic Movement Works
  • In automatic movement, a metal weight rotor is added to the manual part
  • The rotor rotates freely and connects the automatic movement
  • The rotor transfers the energy to the mainspring and spins with every movement of the wrist

Quartz Movements

The quartz movement is a simple mechanism among these three movements. Quartz watches are the best timepieces for accuracy because they have quartz crystals inside. You need to change the battery, but it keeps an accurate time.

The repair cost is very cheap compared to manual and automatic watches. Between three movements, quartz is more inexpensive. Quartz movement production is not expensive. Most affordable watch you can find in the market 

How Quartz Movement Works

  • A quartz movement is battery-powered. It sends an electrical signal to crystal quartz through a piece
  • The quartz creates a precise movement and vibrates 32768 times per second
  • A circuit measures the Quartz movement’s vibration, and every second converts it into a single pulse


√√ Which one is more accurate: Automatic Watches or Quartz Watches?

Ans: Quartz watches are more accurate than automatic watches. Because Quartz watches are more reliable and less expensive than automatic watches, it is more accurate to keep time. If you are looking for an affordable and accurate watch, then quartz watches are much better than automatic watches.

 If you stop wearing an automatic watch for 4 to 5 days, you have to reset the time again, which is not suitable for the watch. Quartz watches run with battery power but does the same job. The maintenance of the Quartz watch is very little and more comfortable than the automatic watch.

√√ Do automatic watches need manual wounds?

Ans: Yes, automatic watches need manual wounds. The spring is unwound when you get an automatic watch for the first time.

There is a misconception about automatic watches that they don’t need manual wounds. When the automatic watches are not worn on the hand to keep it, running a manual wound is required. On the other hand, when the wearer’s wrist motion is not sufficient, it needs to be wound manually.

√√ How do you wind an automatic watch? 

Ans: The meaning of winding is giving back life to your automatic watch. To wind the watch by wearing it, wear your watch and move your wrist till the watch hand moves. You can also make date and time adjustments.

Manual winding- Push the crown in position 0 and rotate it clockwise. Repeat rotating the crown 30-40 times.

Date adjustment- Position the crown to 1 and rotate counterclockwise. 

Time adjustment- Position the crown to 2 and rotate counterclockwise.

Using a winder is another way to wind up your automatic watch. When you are not wearing your watch, a winder mounts it automatically. 


Automatic watches are built to make them easy for wearers, and it has their charm. In this digital world, if you wear an automatic watch, it will make you stand out. Wear your automatic watch regularly to keep its functionality running. If you keep it unused for a long time, it may cause damage. Even though automatic watches are expensive, they have their own value because they are well made, and the mechanism is interesting.

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