How often do mechanical watches need to be wound?

How often do mechanical watches need to be wound?

The beauty of a  mechanical watch  lies in its requirement of interaction with its owner for it to operate. In the absence of winding, the coiled mainspring can only supply power for a limited period, ranging from a day to a few days. Hand-wound watches are considered the epitome of mechanical timepieces, which adds to their allure. To wind the mainspring, one must rotate the watch's crown several times until it reaches a full power reserve. Although the process of winding a watch is simple, it is important to remember to wind it off the wrist.

It may be tempting to play with the crown of your watch while browsing the internet at work, but this can cause strain on the winding stem due to an awkward angle. Overwinding should also be avoided, as you can tell when it's fully wound when the crown can no longer turn. Unlike filling a gas tank, you shouldn't try to add a little extra to the winding. Stop winding as soon as you feel resistance, do not force the rotation. Ideally, the watch should be wound once a day for 20 or so seconds to keep the mainspring above half tension for better timekeeping. Since the average watch has a two-day power reserve, it's recommended to wind it before putting it on in the morning.

This is Oman from Theorema, a gold men's watch with a skeleton dial. It has three blue sub-dials, golden Roman numerals, double colored sword hands, a day and night indicator and a stainless steel bracelet.

Some Rules To Keep In Mind

  • To reduce the strain on the winding stem, it is recommended to remove the watch from the wrist and wind it. 
  • It is important not to wind the watch excessively and to stop when resistance is felt. 
  • Developing a daily routine of winding the watch before wearing it is beneficial, but if it is an automatic watch, it can be worn without winding.

When setting a  calendar watch, it is important to follow certain rules. To avoid harming the date mechanism, it's better to move the watch ahead instead of rewinding it. If you're uncertain when the watch stopped working, you can locate midnight by fully pulling out the crown and rotating the hands until the date shifts. However, it is essential to set the time past 2 a.m. before pressing the crown to change the date because the gear train starts interacting with the date-changing mechanism from 9 p.m. and remains engaged until after 2 a.m. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in future repairs. It should be noted that these rules apply only to watches that display the date.

How many times do I need to wind a mechanical watch to get it powered again?

The power reserve of a watch refers to the duration between the watch being fully charged and it running out of power, causing all its functions to cease. In the case of manual winding watches, after completely winding them, they don't need to be wound again until the power reserve is exhausted. Automatic watches, on the other hand, operate differently as the movements of the wearer during the day maintain their power. Nonetheless, if an automatic watch is removed from the wrist for a prolonged period, it will eventually stop functioning.

To fully wind a manual winding watch after it has lost all power, it is recommended by most watch manufacturers to turn the crown around 30-40 times. On the other hand, for automatic watches, one can shake the watch a couple of times to let the oscillating rotor wind the mainspring and restore power. However, it is important to wear the watch for a minimum of 6-10 hours to ensure it is completely wound and don’t forget to move your wrist.

How do I know when the watch is fully wound?

Manual winding watches may have a system that alerts you when the watch is fully wound by either providing resistance or making a clicking sound. If your watch lacks these features, winding it 30-40 times should suffice. A power reserve indicator is also available on some watches, which shows the remaining power through a dial feature.

Tufina Oman from the Theorema collection. This is a black skeleton dial watch with three blue sub-dials, sword hands, day and night indicator and a black stainless steel bracelet.

Things To Avoid Doing With Your Mechanical Watch:

Don’t Overwind

When compared to a quartz watch, a mechanical watch requires manual winding to function. Even in the case of self-winding watches, they need to be wound if they stop running. In the case of hand-wound watches, they can be wound even if they are still running. However, it is crucial to avoid overwinding a mechanical watch. One must stop winding as soon as they feel resistance on the crown, as overwinding can cause damage to the  mainspring.

Don’t Operate Your Chronograph Under Water

It is not recommended to operate the chronograph function of a mechanical watch that has a built-in chronograph (such as the  Tirona Chronograph) while submerged in water. This is because activating the pushers for the chronograph can cause water to enter the watch case and movement. Instead, it is suggested to use the unidirectional rotating bezel to time underwater activities such as diving.

Don’t Set Certain Functions at the Wrong Time

When dealing with mechanical watches, it is crucial to avoid changing certain settings while the watch is performing its mechanical calculations. Specifically, it is not recommended to adjust the date on a calendar watch from 9 pm to 2 am as the date-changing mechanism is engaged during this period. Trying to adjust the date within this time frame might cause harm to the gear's teeth. In most cases you can set the date by moving the hands in the lower portion of the dial, which is considered a safe area.

Don’t Over-Rely on Watch Winders

If you own a vintage mechanical watch, meaning over 30 or 40 years old, it is not advisable to keep vintage mechanical watches on a  watch winder  as they are better off being stored flat in a drawer or their original box. This is because such watches are not designed to have their mainspring fully wound all the time, which can lead to wear and tear as well as lubrication issues.

Tufina Oman from the Theorema collection. This is a gold men watch with a brown leather band and a skeleton dial paired with three blue sub-dials. It has a day and night indicator and a dual time function. The sword hands are paired with Roman numerals.

Things You Should Do With Your Mechanical Watch:

Take It Off Before Winding It

To avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the winding system of a mechanical hand-wound watch, it is recommended to remove it from your wrist before winding it. Attempting to wind the watch while it is still on your wrist can cause undue stress on the crown or stem from an awkward position. It is advisable to wind the watch every morning before wearing it to prevent it from running out of power. By winding it manually while holding it in your hand, you can reduce the strain on the winding mechanism.

Carefully Clean It

When it comes to mechanical watches, they are susceptible to damage from water and dust. Dust can be particularly harmful when the watch's crown is open for setting. To prevent damage, it is recommended to wipe the watch with a soft cloth before adjusting the time or date. It's also advisable to periodically clean the back of the watch case to remove any accumulated dirt or oils from the skin.

Be Gentle With It

It is important to keep in mind that a mechanical watch consists of numerous small components that operate in a synchronized manner. Unless the watch is constructed with advanced materials both internally and externally, it is advisable to refrain from engaging in activities that may subject it to high-impact stresses, such as playing tennis or other sports that involve sudden impacts while wearing it. It is recommended to set the watch while sitting at a table or over a dresser to prevent it from being accidentally dropped. If the watch is an older model, it may have hollow bracelet links that are more susceptible to dents than solid links.

Service It Regularly

It is important to maintain a watch just like a luxury car. Instead of waiting for it to break, it is recommended to get it checked regularly. You should ensure that it is still water-resistant and the gaskets inside are in good condition. It is advisable to visit an authorized service center or the brand itself for servicing every five years. The lubricants in the watch may dry up during this time period. Additionally, you can request to have the metal case or bracelet scratches removed during servicing. However, if you want to preserve the originality of the watch, it is advised not to let the service center replace the dial.

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