Close this search box.

What Is A Self Winding Watch?

Self Winding Watch

Self winding or automatic watches are the most popular way to wind a mechanical watche.  First invented in the 1920’s this technology pairs man and watch together, each need each other to function.  

To understand exactly what a self winding watch is we first need to understand how a mechanical watch is powered.

How Is A Mechanical Watch Powered?

There are 5 core areas which make up a mechanical watch let’s go through those now.

1. Energy


Credit for all photos goes to How A Mechanical Watch Works

The energy of the watch consists of a spring and a winding mechanism.  When the winding mechanism is wound the spring coils which creates tension and the powers the rotation. The barrel at the centre of this image transfers the energy to the wheels.

2. Wheels


The wheels then transfer this energy through the watch.

3. Escapement


This piece stops the energy from escaping at once. The escape wheel moves in steps because of the interaction between the pallets, the two oblong shaped sections on the end of the fork and the hooked wheel.

4. Controller


The balance assembly which is the outer ring swings back and forth as the escapement wheel turns.

5. Time Indicator

Time Indicator

This is the bit you’re familiar with, the face which shows the time.

How Does A Self Winding Watch Work?

Now we understand the basic inner workings of the mechanical watch, we can understand that the coil needs to be wound in order for the entire mechanism to work.  Pre 1920’s watches were self wound, so every few days the owner would need to wind his or her watch, either through the crown or a watch winder.

Post 1920’s the self winding or automatic mechanism was invented. It is an ingenious mechanism which consists of a pivoted weight, activated by the motion of the wearer of the watch.  Every time the owner moves his arm, whether it’s to check the time or just going about his day, this movement causes the watch to wind itself.

How To Wind A Self Winding Watch

Even if your watch is self winding, occasionally you may need to wind it yourself.  This is because the watch requires movement in order to work.  If you have more than one watch, or a watch in a collection it’s not going to be getting daily wear.

Many new self winding watch owners think their watch is broken when it stops working, this is a common misunderstanding.

If this happens to you, now you know it’s not broken, you just need to wind it!

And there are two ways to do that  One is to manually wind the watch through the crown.  Pop the crown out into the first position and wind it about 20 to 30 spins until you can feel tension. Be careful not to wind it too tightly as you may damage the watch.

The second is to buy a watch winder. It’s entirely up to you whether you get a watch winder or not but if you do decide that’s the way to go we have three recommendations.

Top 3 Watch Winders

Budget Conscious

1) Versa Automatic Double Watch Winder in Black – $59.95

Versa Automatic Double Watch Winder in Black

Of course, like in anything you get what you pay for but if you want to test out a cheaper watch winder first to see what you think this is a passable entry product.

Buy Online

Mid Range

2) Orbita Sparta Black Single Watch Winder Model – $250.75

Orbita Sparta Black Single Watch Winder Model

If you can spend a little more then this is a great watch winder, reliable, sturdy and quiet. Everything you need in a watch winder.  This is for single use only and it not the highest of design quality but in terms of mechanical function it will deliver.

Buy Online

Avid Collector

3) WOLF Roadster Triple Watch Winder – $968.99

WOLF Roadster Triple Watch Winder

Beautifully designed, this is our recommendation for the premium range.  At this level function and design work flawlessly together.  This model takes three watches so is the perfect choice for mechanical watch collectors.

Buy Online

Share the Post:

Related Posts