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Automatic watches are like magic - they can tell time forever without a battery.

Find out how automatic watches work, get up close and personal with an automatic watch movement, and learn more about the history of these innovative timekeeping mechanisms from centuries ago.

Automatic watches are like magic - they can tell time forever without a battery.

Find out how automatic watches work, get up close and personal with an automatic watch movement, and learn more about the history of these innovative timekeeping mechanisms from centuries ago.

Jess Chow, Founder of VIEREN Watches

January 2022


Jess Chow, Founder of VIEREN Watches

January 2022

VIEREN Swiss Made ETA-2671 automatic watch movement

What is an automatic watch?

Automatic watches are defined by their watch movements. Similar to car engines, watch movements are the mechanisms inside that define the quality of the watch and its functionality.

Automatic watches are among the most advanced of the 3 movement types because automatic watch movements can keep accurate time with daily wear, rather than with manual winding (for mechanical watches) or with a battery (for quartz watches).

Also known as a "self-winding watch", this technological innovation from the early 20th century powers itself, giving people more freedom and convenience to power their time and make the most of every second of their life.

How do automatic watches work?

Automatic watch movements have more than 160+ microscopic components working together perfectly to tell time. They feature a self-winding mechanism with a rotor that harnesses the energy from the movement of the wearer's wrist to power the watch.

The rotor is the weighted semi-circular disc on the back of an automatic watch movement that swings back and worth when worn to wind the watch. Comparable to turning the crown, the rotor acts to transform kinetic energy from the wearer into mechanical energy to power the watch, by winding the mainspring inside the movement. As the mainspring unwinds, it turns a complicated series of gears that move the seconds hand at the precise rate for accurate timekeeping.

Because of this added functionality, automatic watch movements tend to be heavier and thicker, requiring a higher level of expertise to craft an automatic timepiece that looks good on the wrist. With regular servicing, an automatic watch is an investment piece that will make time move for decades.
VIEREN Swiss Made ETA-2671 automatic watch movement

What is an automatic watch?

Automatic watches are defined by their watch movements. Similar to car engines, watch movements are the mechanisms inside that define the quality of the watch and its functionality.

Automatic watches are among the most advanced of the 3 movement types because automatic watch movements can keep accurate time with daily wear, rather than with manual winding (for mechanical watches) or with a battery (for quartz watches).

Also known as a "self-winding watch", this technological innovation from the early 20th century powers itself, giving people more freedom and convenience to power their time and make the most of every second of their life.

How do automatic watches work?

Automatic watch movements have more than 160+ microscopic components working together perfectly to tell time. They feature a self-winding mechanism with a rotor that harnesses the energy from the movement of the wearer's wrist to power the watch.

The rotor is the weighted semi-circular disc on the back of an automatic watch movement that swings back and worth when worn to wind the watch. Comparable to turning the crown, the rotor acts to transform kinetic energy from the wearer into mechanical energy to power the watch, by winding the mainspring inside the movement. As the mainspring unwinds, it turns a complicated series of gears that move the seconds hand at the precise rate for accurate timekeeping.

Because of this added functionality, automatic watch movements tend to be heavier and thicker, requiring a higher level of expertise to craft an automatic timepiece that looks good on the wrist. With regular servicing, an automatic watch is an investment piece that will make time move for decades.

How long do automatic watches last?

Automatic watches typically have a power reserve of about 40-50 hours. This means an automatic watch movement will run accurately for that amount of time when it's fully wound. If worn every day, an automatic watch should not require manual winding.

However, if the automatic watch has not been worn for more than a day or two, it will need to be "charged" again by turning the crown around 30-40x to fully power the watch.

VIEREN rectangular automatic watch crown

The history of automatic watches

The pursuit for accurate timekeeping has been a global race for centuries. The first automatic movement was created in 1776 for the pocket watch by Swiss watchmaker Abraham Louis Perrelet in Le Locle, Switzerland. Over the next few decades, people continued to innovate parts and processes to make the automatic watch movement smaller, more accurate, and keep time for longer.

But it was only after World War I when automatic wrist watches became a coveted household item. Back then, "bracelet watches" were seen as decorative jewellery for women rather than functional timekeeping devices. However, during the war, people realized the benefits of having a timekeeping device strapped onto the wrist (instead of in their pocket), and the wrist watch became widely popular among men going into the military in the 1910s. When they returned home, almost every man had a wrist watch strapped to their arm.

Later in 1923, the first autoamtic wrist watch was created by John Harwood from Britain. Known as the "bumper watch", this initial design featured a primitive weighted rotor that would swing 180 degrees to power the watch from the movement of the wearer, often "bumping" into the sides of the watch. But this early version was quite heavy and would only power the watch accurately for up to 12 hours.

The modern automatic watch features a rotor that swings a full 360 degrees, allowing it to run automomously for up to 40-50 hours. This improved design was first introduced in 1930 by Rolex with their Oyster Perpetual, an iconic style that pushed the watchmaking industry and innovation forward. Today, the highest quality automatic watch movements come from "Watch Valley" in Switzerland, a 200km region in the Jura Mountains, with many of the world's best luxury watch manufacturers and independent watchmakers honing their craft over generations.

How long do automatic watches last?

Automatic watches typically have a power reserve of about 40-50 hours. This means an automatic watch movement will run accurately for that amount of time when it's fully wound. If worn every day, an automatic watch should not require manual winding.

However, if the automatic watch has not been worn for more than a day or two, it will need to be "charged" again by turning the crown around 30-40x to fully power the watch.

VIEREN rectangular automatic watch crown

The history of automatic watches

The pursuit for accurate timekeeping has been a global race for centuries. The first automatic movement was created in 1776 for the pocket watch by Swiss watchmaker Abraham Louis Perrelet in Le Locle, Switzerland. Over the next few decades, people continued to innovate parts and processes to make the automatic watch movement smaller, more accurate, and keep time for longer.

But it was only after World War I when automatic wrist watches became a coveted household item. Back then, "bracelet watches" were seen as decorative jewellery for women rather than functional timekeeping devices. However, during the war, people realized the benefits of having a timekeeping device strapped onto the wrist (instead of in their pocket), and the wrist watch became widely popular among men going into the military in the 1910s. When they returned home, almost every man had a wrist watch strapped to their arm.

Later in 1923, the first autoamtic wrist watch was created by John Harwood from Britain. Known as the "bumper watch", this initial design featured a primitive weighted rotor that would swing 180 degrees to power the watch from the movement of the wearer, often "bumping" into the sides of the watch. But this early version was quite heavy and would only power the watch accurately for up to 12 hours.

The modern automatic watch features a rotor that swings a full 360 degrees, allowing it to run automomously for up to 40-50 hours. This improved design was first introduced in 1930 by Rolex with their Oyster Perpetual, an iconic style that pushed the watchmaking industry and innovation forward. Today, the highest quality automatic watch movements come from "Watch Valley" in Switzerland, a 200km region in the Jura Mountains, with many of the world's best luxury watch manufacturers and independent watchmakers honing their craft over generations.
VIEREN Swiss automatic watches for men and women editorial