In this column we introduce our professional watch technician who has many years of experience working in the watch industry in some of the most famous watch houses. This column’s topics focuses on the more technical details of watchmaking that some of you may have a preference for.
Some say that he has worked on some of the most expensive limited timepieces in the world…
And rumour has it, he in fact goes about his life with no watch at all…
His nationality and identity remained unknown…
All we know is, he’s called The Watchmaker and his article today focuses on understanding some of the different watch movements and how to take care of them – like a professional.
For his first column at GENEVA STRIPES, The Watchmaker has decided to answer the questions he gets most often asked. Here we go…
How to know if my Watch is Manual, Automatic or Quartz?
The battery can be a giveaway for quartz watches
Let’s deal with quartz watches first. Most of the time the movement won’t be visible, but occasionally you might find the word “quartz” mentioned on the dial. If not, have a look at the second hand. Quartz watches typically have a “tick tick” motion that moves once per second. If your watch doesn’t have a second hand, try to feel the crown (the part that you wind the watch with) as you rotate it: quartz watches crowns will typically turn smoothly, easily, and without any sound.
Sometimes the rotor (semi circular disc) can be a giveaway for automatic watches
Manual and automatic watches both belong to the same big family of mechanical watches. One of the easiest ways to spot them is to put them next to your ear and try to get their fast “tic tac” sound. Also, generally speaking, the second hand tends to “sweep” rather than “tick”. Manual watches regularly need to be wound up by hand, and automatic watches wind up automatically while you wear them. Winding up a manual watch is done via the crown, which is the same button you use to set the time.
Notice the lack of rotor
To wind my watch, should I push or pull the crown? In which direction should I rotate it?
There’s no need to push or pull the crown: its default position is basically the winding position.
The vast majority of simple manual watches will wind up by rotating the crown clockwise: in other words, when you have your watch in your left hand, take the crown between your right thumb and index, and push your thumb upward. Then repeat.
Rolex Submariner is a diver’s watch
Some watches, typically diver’s watches, will require you to unlock the crown before you can wind the watch. The crown can either be screwed or pushed down by a lever, the idea being to prevent it from rotating accidentally.
Is it wrong if I go both direction?
Please be reassured, you’re not going to damage anything: the typical winding mechanism is made so that when you turn the crown clockwise, you wind up the watch, and when you turn it counter clockwise, it disengages, giving a much lighter feeling and producing a tinier “clic clic” sound.
How many times should I turn the crown?
On the most basic manual watch, you will easily feel that you reach an end: you will first feel a resistance, and soon you won’t be able to turn the crown anymore. Don’t go any further.
Some manual watches have a power reserve indication, that works like a fuel gauge in a car, indicating how long is left before the watch stops working. When you wind up the watch, you’ll see the power reserve indicator going up, and you’ll feel the end at the same time it indicates that it’s full.
8 day power reserve
Some other manual watches are designed in a way that the spring has no “end”: you could spend your entire day winding it up without ever feeling any resistance. These usually have a power reserve indication, but if they don’t, around 50 strokes should do it.
How long will my manual watch run when fully wound? How often should I wind it?
Most manual watches have a power reserve between 40 and 50 hours. 50 hours is convenient, because if you last wind up your watch on Saturday morning and don’t wear it on Sunday, it will still be running on Monday morning, so you won’t have to set the time. Remember to wind it up though.
These common watches are designed to give their best during the first half of their power reserve. It’s a really good idea to wind it up every day before you put it on: it will run every day in the same conditions, and you’re less likely to forget to wind it up one day and have it stop at an inconvenient moment.
Some manual watches have a power reserve of 8 days, and you can find others with power reserve up to 30 days. These will usually have a power reserve indication.
When I leave my manual watch to rest, should I put it in a particular position?
Once again, there’s no unique answer.
Watches are rigorously tested
Keep in mind that mechanical watches are sensitive to temperature and position. One particular watch can be fast when it’s laying flat near a heater, and slow in another position in a cool room. During the day when you’re wearing it, you put it in a succession of random positions, giving a good average time rate.
Watchmaking requires patience
You’ll have to get to know your watch to discover the conditions in which it gives its best when it’s resting. You might even get different results with identical watches. Try a bit of everything, take notes. It’s an important part of the relationship you get to have with it.
If you need to let it rest for a longer time, the watch will eventually stop. It’s not a problem at all. When you want to wear it again, fully wind it up, set the time and you’re good to go.
In any case, be gentle and use your common sense. If you feel anything unusual or simply have a question, go ask your watchmaker or even post on Geneva Stripes. THE WATCHMAKER