Automatic watches are mechanical watches with an „automatic“ or self-winding mechanism in which the mainspring is wound by the natural motion of the wearer. Regarded as one of the more simple watch complications it is also regarded as one of the most useful and thus most popular amongst mechanical watches.
Self-winding watches – a brief history of time
The first credible evidence for automatic watches can be dated back to the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 1770s who used an oscillating weight in a Swiss pocket watch to self-wind it. Being a very popular watch invention several watchmakers worked on developing similar mechanisms in the coming years which paved the way for one of the most important watch inventions made. Today, the mainspring can be wound using gold rotors, skeletonized rotors, hand-decorated rotors and many more.
Automatic watches vs. manual watches
If you’re looking for a mechanical watch one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether it should be a self-winding or manual watch. Due to the technology behind automatic watches they can be regarded as the more precise timepieces. Because of the self-winding mechanism, the mainspring’s tension is far more likely to be tense and full wound so that the torque it provides is more constant. This reduced variation in force leads to very precise timepieces. Another advantage of automatic watches is the fact that as long as the watch is worn it will never stop to show to correct time. Critics say, that sometimes the big rotor hides parts of the beautifully crafted mechanical movements, but in the case of the Memorigin Orbit Series, the rotor itself is hand-carved so that you probably won’t mind. A chronograph is a complication which needs additional energy from the mainspring once you hit the start button, which is why most chronographs are powered by a self-winding movement to maintain a constant flow of energy to the mainspring.
Automatic watch prices
Since it’s a very popular watch complication, you can find automatic watches for under 200 € (e.g. Sea-Gull D819.615) or automatic chronographs for under 1.500 € (e.g. Eterna Kontiki Chronograph). And through its usefulness to provide a constant flow of power to the mainspring, you can find it powering watch movements in every price range and with every combination of complication. Even the most expensive Swiss watches are using self-winding mechanical movements to power their mainspring.