The Beginner's Guide: How to Wind an Automatic Watch


Starting from scratch can be intimidating, especially when it comes to handling intricate timepieces like automatic watches. While many people turn to self-winding or manual-winding watches for convenience, automatic watches are highly sought after for their unique functionality and craftsmanship. If you've recently acquired an automatic watch or are considering getting one, this beginner's guide will teach you how to properly wind an automatic watch. By understanding the mechanics and techniques of winding, you'll be able to maintain the accuracy and longevity of your automatic watch.

Understanding Automatic Watches

Before delving into the process of winding an automatic watch, it's crucial to grasp the basics of how these timepieces operate. Unlike quartz or manual watches, automatic watches are powered by the movement of the wearer's wrist. Inside the watch, there is a tiny oscillating weight called a rotor that rotates with the motion of the wrist. As the rotor spins, it winds the mainspring, storing potential energy to power the watch. This means that as long as the watch is worn regularly, the movement of the wrist will keep the watch running without the need for manual winding.

In the absence of regular wear, an automatic watch will eventually stop due to the depletion of energy in the mainspring. When this happens, winding the watch manually is necessary to rejuvenate the mainspring and restart the movement. It's important to note that overwinding an automatic watch is virtually impossible, as the internal mechanism is designed to prevent this from happening. However, understanding when and how to wind an automatic watch is crucial for maintaining its accuracy and functionality.

Identifying the Crown and Its Positions

The crown of a watch is the small, cylindrical knob located on the side of the case. It serves several functions, including setting the time, date, and winding the watch. Before attempting to wind an automatic watch, it's important to identify the different positions of the crown. The first position is when the crown is pushed in against the case, indicating that the watch is already running or fully wound. The second position is when the crown is pulled out to the first click, allowing you to set the date or time. The third position is when the crown is pulled out to the second click, indicating that the watch is ready to be wound manually.

Carefully familiarize yourself with the positions of the crown and practice pulling it out to the correct position without applying excessive force. This will prevent damage to the internal mechanism of the watch and ensure a smooth winding process.

Winding an Automatic Watch

With a clear understanding of how automatic watches work and the position of the crown, you're ready to learn how to wind the watch properly. When the watch has stopped running because of inactivity, follow these steps to wind it manually:

1. Gently unscrew or pull out the crown to the second click position. Ensure not to force the crown, as this could cause damage to the case or internal components.

2. With the crown in the correct position, begin winding the watch by rotating the crown clockwise. Use two fingers to grip the crown and turn it in a smooth, controlled motion. It's important to wind the watch slowly and steadily, rather than applying abrupt or excessive force.

3. As you wind the watch, you will feel a subtle resistance in the crown, indicating that the mainspring is being tightened. Be mindful not to continue winding once you feel this resistance, as overwinding can potentially damage the internal components of the watch.

4. Once the watch has been wound fully, approximately 20-40 complete rotations, you may hear a faint clicking sound. This signals that the mainspring is at its maximum tension and the watch is fully wound.

5. After fully winding the watch, gently push the crown back in or screw it down, depending on the model of the watch. This will secure the crown in its original position and protect the internal components from dust and moisture.

By following these steps, you can effectively wind your automatic watch without causing any harm to its intricate mechanisms. It's worth noting that the number of rotations required to fully wind an automatic watch may vary depending on the make and model. Consulting the manufacturer's guidelines or seeking advice from a professional watchmaker can provide insight into the specific winding requirements for your watch.

Wearing and Storing an Automatic Watch

In addition to winding an automatic watch, it's important to consider how you wear and store the timepiece to maintain its optimal performance. Regularly wearing the watch and allowing the natural movement of your wrist to power the automatic movement is the most effective way to keep it running. If the watch is not worn daily, investing in a watch winder can be beneficial. A watch winder is a device that gently rotates the watch, mimicking the natural motion of the wrist to keep it running and prevent the mainspring from fully unwinding.

When storing an automatic watch, it's crucial to keep it in a suitable environment that protects it from extreme temperatures, moisture, and magnetic fields. Storing the watch in a watch box or case with proper cushioning and protection will safeguard it from potential damage. Additionally, regular maintenance and servicing by a professional watchmaker will ensure that the watch remains in optimal condition and continues to function accurately for years to come.


As you venture into the world of automatic watches, learning how to wind and care for your timepiece is essential. By understanding the mechanics of automatic watches, identifying the crown positions, and following the proper winding techniques, you can maintain the accuracy and longevity of your automatic watch. Remember to wear the watch regularly, store it in a suitable environment, and seek professional servicing when needed to preserve its functionality.

With patience and attentiveness, you can confidently wind your automatic watch and appreciate the intricate craftsmanship that sets it apart from other timepieces. As you incorporate these practices into your watch care routine, you'll be able to enjoy the beauty and functionality of your automatic watch for many years to come.


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