How Do Self-Winding Watches Work?

Last Updated on September 24, 2022 by Luis Cooper

Are you considering purchasing a new watch?

If so, you may be wondering How Do Self-Winding Watches Work?

They are a popular choice among watch enthusiasts and offer a lot of convenience and functionality.

This blog post will look closely at how self-winding watches work and what makes them such a popular choice.

Serious watch collectors frequently choose self-winding timepieces.

The automated watch commonly referred to as the self-winding watch has long been hailed as the pinnacle of watchmaking.

Automatic watches are helpful for more than just keeping us on time; they also complete any outfit and add style to our wardrobe.

Working of Self-Winding Watch:

When worn frequently, a self-winding watch will wind itself as long as it is worn continuously.

A spiral spring known as the mainspring rotates its gears.

This component often stores energy by turning a knob, which is the crown on the watch’s side.

The watch is powered and able to function thanks to the mainspring’s energy.

However, as this energy steadily depletes, the spring must be wrapped once more.

Additionally, this watch has a larger rotor and an asymmetrical wheel.

Because the center pivot’s center of gravity lies on one side, it responds to gravity by rotating, which moves the weighted side closer to the earth.

Arms are frequently moved, and the side closest to the ground also varies.

It implies that the rotor is constantly in motion.

This frequent movement winds the watch since the rotor is connected to the mainspring by a web of gears.

Active people who wear automatic watches can spin many times per minute, which increases the energy stored in the mainspring.

Hence. It is common for self-winding watches to finish winding in 3–4 hours while being worn.

History Behind The Self Winding Watch:

Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a Swiss watchmaker, created the self-winding timepiece.

The craftsman used concepts in modern pedometers to develop a self-winding mechanism for pocket watches.

The mechanism moved up and down while the watch user walked, mechanically winding the watch.

The Geneva Society of Arts quickly noted how Perrelet’s invention allowed the watch to wind up sufficiently for eight days of use with just 15 minutes of walking motions.

Abraham-Louis Breguet, a fellow watchmaker, purchased several watch designs that Perrelet had shortly sold to him.

Breguet made minor adjustments to the plan, but once his model failed, he stopped producing his own.

To make modifications to wristwatches, John Hardwood used the self-winding design principle.

On his watch designs, he incorporated patents for bumper and hammer movements.

The watch could only be wound when it was moved in a single direction, but when it was wound all the way, it could run for 12 hours.

Rolex quickly changed Harwood’s design, allowing the watch to wind with the wearer’s motion in any direction and extending the mainspring’s ability to store energy for up to 35 hours.

Later, several businesses used this idea to create their self-winding watch models.

Most of us believe that the primary purpose of an automatic watch is to be worn and then ignored.

But it needs to be maintained and cared for correctly, just like any other watch.

You can manually decide whether to wind your item or use a watch winder.

Enjoy your watch’s beauty in the interim, or buy one if you don’t already own an automatic model. You’ll see it’s a wise investment.

Self-winding watches need to be wound:

Yes, automatic clocks must be wound by hand at least once every two weeks.

It’s a common misperception that a watch no longer requires incorporating simply because it is automated.

This procedure must be carried out for automatic clocks to operate appropriately and last longer.

Self-winding watches have internal lubricants just as conventional watches, which can eventually congeal or dry out.

When things like this happen, the watch’s accuracy suffers, and, at worst, its lifespan is shortened.

According to many watch experts, self-winding watches should be serviced every five years to maintain accuracy and functioning.

When a look needs servicing, procedures are used to clean, adjust, and lubricate its internal components.

For inactive users, manually winding an automated watch is also necessary.

Self-winding watch users who don’t walk about much, those who work at desks most of the time, or those who sit for extended periods should occasionally wind their watches manually to keep them in top functioning condition.

Are Self-Winding Watch Mainsprings Prone to Damage?

The sensitive mainspring of a manual watch is one of its drawbacks because it is very susceptible to overwinding.

But are automated watches also accessible to this problem?

A slipping spring is found near the end of the mainspring in self-winding timepieces.

As soon as the watch is fully wound, this slipping spring begins to slide all over the interior of the barrel.

A self-winding watch won’t be harmed by overwinding, therefore.

Users can wind the watch as much as they like without damaging the timepiece.

How are Automatic Watches and Hand-Wound Watches Different?

When you rotate your wrist while wearing a self-winding (automatic) watch, a rotor linked to the movement spins and rewinds the watch by tightening the mainspring.

Since a hand-wound watch lacks a rotor, the manual winding is required to operate.

Self-Winding / Automatic Watches Pros And Cons:


Many individuals choose automatic watches for the ease of not worrying about winding the watch up in advance and being able to put it on.

Due to the aforementioned factors, far more automatic watches are available on the market than hand-wound watches.


Your watch will get heavier and thicker due to the weighted rotor.

It might not be a con for sure, folks, but it’s important to note.

The rotor can be a little hindrance for folks who enjoy watching the gears turn through a glass case because it hides some of the action.

Hand Wound / Manual Wind Watches Pros And Cons:


Hand-wound watches with transparent case backs are an excellent plus for individuals interested in the mechanical watch’s micro-mechanics because it allows you to view more of the movement.

A manual winding watch’s mechanical mechanism can be slimmer and lighter on the wrist because the weighted rotor is not there.


The daily ritual of winding the crown may occasionally be tedious for people who wear manual watches to tell time and have no interest in their inner workings.

The crown’s seal may prematurely wear if the crown is continually turned to wind the mainspring (compared to automatic watches, which wind mostly via the rotor).

How to Wind a Self-Winding Watch? (How Do Self-Winding Watches Work?)

A manually wound self-winding watch can be incorporated into two different methods.

The watch’s crown is turned using the first technique.

To flip the crown quickly, you must first slightly pull it away from the case.

Rotate the crown a few times up and down until it stops giving.

The minimum number of complete rotations required for most watches is 30.

Utilizing a watch winder is the second technique.

The watch winder is an electronic device that runs on batteries or electricity.

It is placed on a watch on its deck to wind the watch.

A watch winder is a valuable tool for watch collectors with an extensive collection of automatic timepieces.

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Hi, I'm Luis, the guy behind this site. I love wearing watches, especially ones that look great on small wrists (mine are about 6.3" around). The Watches Geek is dedicated to helping you learn about and buy watches that you will love wearing. I want this website to be the last destination for people to pick the best watches to fit their needs. You can find our unbiased reviews here on Thewatchesgeek.

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