Mechanical watcheshave been around for centuries, and they remain a symbol of prestige and luxury. There's something about the intricate mechanics and precise engineering that makes them stand out in the world of timepieces. However, there's always been a debate surrounding the proper way to care for a mechanical watch, and one of the most common questions is whether you can overwind it. While some watch enthusiasts believe that overwinding can damage the delicate inner workings of a mechanical watch, others argue that it's impossible to overwind a watch. So, what's the truth? In this article, we'll explore the science behind mechanical watches and settle the debate once and for all.
When can you over wind a mechanical watch?
The manual winding mechanism of a watch consists of a mainspring that is secured on both ends, one end being attached to the barrel arbor and the other to the barrel. The bridle, which is a hook or extension spring, is an essential part of the mainspring that secures into a groove located in the barrel wall. When winding amanual watch, the mainspring gradually builds up resistance, and it is advisable to slow down when resistance is felt and continue winding until it can no longer be wound.
Certain watches - including all the hand-wound timepieces from Tufina - feature protection against over-winding. Nevertheless, some clients end up forcefully rotating the crown past its limit, even when they feel its resistance. Doing so they accidentally damage the movement. That’s why it’s critically important that you never try to rotate the crown after it can no longer be rotated.
Although it is possible to wind a hand-wound watch excessively, it also largely depends on the state of the mainspring and its condition. A well-maintained mainspring can endure significantly more pressure than the average user can exert. If the mainspring does break, it indicates that it was in poor condition and required replacement.
Why May Your Mechanical Watch Stop Working?
When a watch ceases to work, there are various potential reasons for this such as a damaged balance staff, entangled balance spring, clogged oil, accumulation of dust or dirt, a strand of hair, intense magnetization, faulty pinion due to damage, bending or wearing, a faulty wheel due to a broken, bent or worn tooth, and a loose, cracked or worn bearing jewel. However, there are numerous other reasons why a watch may stop working, and it is essential to keep in mind that over-winding the watch is usually not one of them. To remedy the situation, the watch must undergo a complete overhaul, which may also require the replacement of certain components.
How Should You Wind a Mechanical Timepiece?
Step 1: Remove the Watch
Before winding your watch, it is crucial to take it off your wrist. Winding the watch while it is still on your wrist can create an undue amount of pressure on the crown, which may lead to damage to the movement.
Step 2: Locate the Crown
To locate the crown of your watch, check the side of the watch case. Usually, the crown is positioned on the right side at 3:00, but in some cases, it can be found at 4:00 or even 9:00. Some watches come with multiple crowns to control various complications. For instance,chronograph watchesoften have subdials controlled by separate crowns.
Generally, the same crown used for setting the time is also used for winding the watch. It's important to make sure that the crown is pushed closest to the case. However, some watches have crowns that are screwed down and require counterclockwise unscrewing to reach the neutral position.
Step 3: Rotate The Crown
To wind a watch properly, it's essential to turn the crown in a clockwise direction. Attempting to turn it counterclockwise may not wind the watch, and in certain models, it could cause harm. The tiny components that enable your watch to function may become strained and damaged if you turn the crown in the opposite direction.
How Often Should You Wind A Mechanical Watch?
The frequency at which you should wind your watch is determined by its power reserve, which is the length of time it can operate when fully wound, similar to a gas tank in a car. Typically, most mechanical watches have a power reserve of roughly 40 hours, and it is recommended to keep the watch above at least half of its power reserve, as it operates best when the mainspring is above half-tension. Waiting for 48 hours, or two full days, before winding a 40-hour power reserve watch may result in it stopping before the second day ends. If you are not wearing the watch for an extended period, it is not necessary to wind it every day, but it should be worn about every two weeks to prevent the lubricating oils in the watch from drying out. Keep in mind that if you intend to wear your mechanical watch everyday, you should hand-wind it daily for optimal time-keeping.
How Much Should You Wind It?
The number of rotations required to fully wind a watch depends on its model and can differ from one timepiece to another. Typically, it takes 30-40 complete turns of the crown to wind most watches, but this can vary depending on the power reserve of the watch. Therefore, a good rule of thumb would be to simply wind the watch until you have reached full power reserve. You can also consult the manual that comes with your watch to determine the exact number of rotations needed. However, it's important to note that the manufacturer's recommendation is just a guideline, and one should also consider the winding resistance of the watch. Simply counting rotations may not always ensure that the watch is fully wound, as the power generated from each rotation can vary between different watches.
How Do You Know When Your Watch is Fully Wound?
Many watch admirers are aware that a mechanical watch's energy comes from a tightly coiled mainspring situated in the barrel. When a watch is wound, the mainspring tightens, accumulating energy. Subsequently, the spring gradually releases its energy, propelling the movement of the watch.
The winding process of a watch is complete when the crown becomes resistant to turning. This indicates that the mainspring has reached its maximum tension and can no longer be wound any further.
How Long Will a Mechanical Watch Run When Fully Wound?
The duration for which a mechanical watch runs after being fully wound is known as its power reserve. However, the power reserve of a watch can also be influenced by other factors such as the watch's age and condition. Newly serviced watches generally have a better power reserve as compared to older models of the same watch due to the wear and tear of oils and parts within the movement over time.
Typically, mechanical watches have an average power reserve of 40 hours, but some models may have up to 80 hours of reserves when fully wound. There are even rarer watches that can operate for a month on a single winding, which is quite impressive.