Automatic Watch Movement

An automatic or self-winding watch is a mechanical watch in which the mainspring is wound automatically as a result of natural motion of the wearer's arm, to provide energy to run the watch, making manual winding unnecessary. A mechanical watch which is neither self-winding nor electrically driven is called a manual watch. Most mechanical watches manufactured today are self-winding.

A mechanical watch is powered by an internal spiral mainspring which turns the gears that moves the hands. The spring loses energy as the watch runs, so in a manual watch movement the spring must be wound periodically by turning a small knob on the case, the crown, to provide energy to run the watch. Otherwise, once the energy in the mainspring runs out, it stops.

A self-winding watch movement has a mechanism which winds the mainspring. The watch contains an eccentric weight (the rotor), which turns on a pivot. The normal movements of the user's arm cause the rotor to pivot on its staff, which is attached to a ratcheted winding mechanism. The motion of the wearer's arm is thereby translated into circular motion of the rotor which, through a series of reverser and reducing gears, eventually winds the mainspring. There are many different designs for modern self-winding mechanisms. Some designs allow winding of the watch to take place while the rotor swings in only one direction while other, more advanced, mechanisms have two ratchets and wind the mainspring during both clockwise and counterclockwise rotor motions.

The fully wound mainspring in a typical watch can store enough energy reserve for roughly two days, allowing the watch to keep running through the night while stationary. In many cases automatic watches can also be wound manually by turning the crown, so the watch can be kept running when not worn, and in case the wearer's wrist motions are not sufficient to keep it wound automatically

The underside view of an automatic watch.First automatic wristwatch.