is an automatic self-winding watch?
First there were wind-up mechanicals. Then in the
late sixties and early seventies manufacturers in Japan and Europe,
almost simultaneously, developed self-winding mechanicals.
Self-winding automatics, for all practical purposes, and as the name
implies, are nothing more than mechanical watches that do not need to
be manually wound on a daily basis. A half-rotor mechanism moves
with your body motion winding the watch automatically by using your
I purchased an Orient
Automatic. What happens if it breaks down during the warranty
You will receive with your purchase of an Orient
watch a warranty card and booklet that provides information on warranty
repair. Your watch will either be replaced or repaired here in
the U.S. at Orient's authorized watch repair facility. Partial
listing of Orient warranty repair facilities worldwide.
Where do I get my watch
serviced or repaired after the warranty period is over? What if
Orient goes out of business? Am I stuck?
First of all, Orient Watch Co. is not going out of
business. They are a very successful company in Japan and their
watches are very popular in parts of Europe, Russia, Japan and the Far
East. They are just not very well known here. Secondly, the
nature of mechanical watches are that any competent watch repair shop
in your town can work on this watch. That's the great thing about
mechanicals vs. quartz watches. We generally view most quartz
watches as 'disposable' to some degree. Mechanical watches are
like firearms. Most gunsmiths can work on any firearm, regardless
of its age, whether the manufacturer is still in business or not.
That's the beauty of well-built mechanical watches. They
can literally run for generations, assuming you have had it serviced
How accurate is a
self-winding automatic watch?
Most well built automatics will hold accuracy from five
seconds to 20 seconds
per day or better. Now, most would say that's not very
accurate. But in the real world most find it perfectly
Can I get a mechanical
that is as accurate as a quartz watch?
Well, with a little old world craftsmanship you can get close.
Mechanical watches can be "regulated," which is nothing more than a
tuning process that makes your mechanical watch more accurate. It
will cost you some money and you need to find a qualified watchmaker
that knows how to regulate a watch, but it can be done. Again,
purposes of most people going about their daily lives, regulating a
watch isn't a necessity.
Why would I buy a
self-winding mechanical over a quartz watch?
That question is a little more difficult to answer. Here's the
bottom line. If you want a watch that will last literally
generations, you purchase a quality mechanical watch. These are
generally will not fail to restart if they haven't been running for a
period of time, which is more than can be said about a lot of quartz
watches. But, if you leave your mechanical non-operational
for a lengthy period of time, don't be surprised if it fails to
start. Lubricants will pool in a watch and can leave some parts
unlubricated causing the mechanism to fail if left unused for years or
even a few months. But, that's easily remedied. More
information on proper maintenance is provided below.
Secondly, and this is where it gets a little hazier, people buy
automatics for reasons
that cannot be clearly defined. As an example, if you are an
aficionado of firearms, the person who is not familiar with firearms
might ask why in the world would anyone purchase a revolver instead of
a semi-auto handgun? To one who loves revolvers, they might not
even comprehend such a question. Well, the same thing applies to
watches. Mechanicals hold an allure of old world
craftsmanship. They are purely mechanical, while quartz watches
little mechanical and a whole lot of electronics, and digitals are
nothing more than a small computer in a box. There is
something different about watching a second hand sweep the dial as
opposed to a quartz watch which moves once a second. It's purely
on emotions and nothing more. It's like a corvette owner today
vs. a person driving a hopped up four-cylinder. If you asked the
corvette person why they love V-8 engines, they'll more often than not
tell you they like the low-end torque and of course the sound that
only a V-8 can produce.
Can I wind up my
self-winding automatic using the crown?
Some brands allow the owner to wind up the watch like the good old
days prior to self-winding mechanicals. Other companies like
Seiko and Orient developed highly
efficient self-winding mechanisms that allowed their watches to be
designed without a wind up feature. In some self-winding
mechanisms, the rotor and winding system is less efficient and it would
require the owner to move the watch back and forth for several minutes
before it will start and hold enough energy to run for more than a
couple of minutes. That's why on some brands the ability to wind
up the watch manually has been retained. Both Seiko and Orient
watches can be moved in a circular motion for about 20-30 seconds and
you'll get several
hours of run time. Just put the watch on and kinetic motion throughout
the day will fully wind the mainspring automatically. Basically,
in the time it takes to wind up a self-winding automatic manually using
the crown, a Seiko or Orient can be made fully operational. The
manual wind-up feature was dropped some time ago because Seiko and
Orient watch owners just simply never used it. Most self-winding
watches, when fully wound, including Orient, will run continously for
over 40 hours which is anywhere from 3 to 10 hours longer than most
wind-up only watches.
Can an automatic be wound
too much causing damage?
No. Automatics today disengage from winding when the watch is at
full power reserve. After it reaches some point below full power
reserve, it automatically engages and continues winding until full
Are mechanicals durable?
Most all mechanical watches are produced with shock
protection. Critical parts are spring mounted so that bumps
and shocks do not affect the watch to any significant degree.
simply due to the nature of their construction, quartz watches are more
difficult to damage, but today's modern mechanicals can take a
significant amount of abuse and easily last 25, 50 or 100 years or more
assuming proper maintenance. Here are what most manufacturers
recommend when it comes to automatic watches.
automatic mechanical watches do not have batteries, some easy-to-follow
maintenance is necessary for continued and long-lasting good use.
watches depend on the movement of the
arm to operate and do require some winding, even if you wear your watch
on a daily basis with the exception of most Seiko and Orient watches.
If you wear your
Automatic with a manual wind up feature and you wear it
daily, it is best
to wind it once every two weeks with the stem (crown) to keep the
wheels in motion and oil
fluid. Simply wind the crown (the same knob used to adjust the time)
until you meet slight resistance. For Seiko and Orient
watches this is not necessary because they do not, for almost all their
models, have a manual wind-up feature.
If you do not wear
your Automatic watch everyday, you
should try to wind it at least twice a week to ensure continuous
operation, as well as keeping the inside mechanism in complete running
order. For Seiko and Orient watches, move it in a circular motion
for about 30
Try to wind your
mechanical watch at the same time every day.
This is extremely beneficial for the mechanism. You may want to make it
a routine, winding it every morning when you wake up.
Avoid setting the day
and/or date (if your watch has these
functions) at night. The day-date mechanism is activated during the
nighttime hours and could be disrupted if set at this time.
And, always avoid
wearing your mechanical watch, if you are
playing a sport requiring continuous arm motion (e.g. tennis, baseball,
golf), since continuous arm motion could damage the movement.
How do I take care of my
mechanical so that it lasts a long time?
Take it in every year or two to a competent watch repair shop, though
aficionados will say every year, for a "lube job." Every
watch should be maintained, including quartz analog watches. Most
will function just fine with a lube and tune once every two years, and
frankly with today's modern synthetic lubricants, most will run just
fine for 4 or 5 years. But, it's still recommended you take it in
at least every two years. That way your watch will literally
function for generations.
If you have a water-resistant watch,
and you use your watch frequently around water, take it in annually for
a new set of seals. Otherwise, it will start ot take on water
eventually. Most seals are natural rubber and they will rot out
becoming brittle which will cause leaks around the stem and the case
back. One way to help destroy the seals of your watch quickly is
exposure to soap or soapy water, hand creams and lotions. Keep
that kind of material away
from your watch because it will accelerate the degradation of the
seals. More on water later.
Don't things wear
out? How can it last for generations?
Today's mechanical watches have what are described as
movements. These are synthetic rubies that are placed at certain
pivot points throughout the watch where parts are stressed. Prior
to synthetic rubies, real rubies were used and sometimes in combination
steel bushings. Synthetic rubies are very hard and, for
all practical purposes, just don't wear down at any appreciable
rate. They keep your watch operating smoothly and, if routinely
serviced by a professional watchmaker, it will last for
Will a quartz watch last for generations? Well maybe, if you take
it in for maintenance as well. But, if the battery in your watch
is discontinued, well forget about it. It's toast.
I have a
digital watch. Do I have to maintain it?
To be honest with you, we haven't a clue. We
assume not, providing it remains sealed. Just change the
batteries routinely and have new seals installed annually, and as long
as they continue to make batteries for it, it's conceivable for a
digital to literally go on for decades, maybe centuries for all we know.
I've been told the more
jewels in a watch, the better the watch. Is that true?
For the most part yes, up to a point. Most
watches in the early years, prior to the use of synthetic rubies,
usually had a 7 jewel movement for a mid-range model. Today, 17
23 synthetic rubies are common depending on the complications and
perfectly acceptable for high grade watches. Some watches with a
high number of complications may get to 25-30 jewel movements but, for
most part, that's it.
My uncle has a watch with
80 jewels. He says it's one of the best watches in the world and
that they don't make them like they used to. What's up with that?
Thank goodness they still don't make them like they used to. In
seventies watch companies got into a race to see how many jewels they
could put into a watch because the public was led to believe that more
jewels were better. Japanese and Swiss companies got completely
out of control and were stuffing as many as 100 jewels in a watch, of
which upwards to 80% performed no function in the movement of the
Common sense eventually prevailed as consumers became educated that a
certain amount of jewels were good, around 17 to 23, but anything more
than 30, for most all watches, is a waste of good
anything else, it's hard to kill off the 'more jewels is better scam'
that was going on 30 years ago. Your uncle paid for a lot
jewels that really don't do anything to make the watch perform better,
but it's a nice conversation piece and may have collector value.
What's a screw down crown?
A screw down crown is the stem of the watch. To adjust the time,
simply unwind the stem counter-clockwise a couple of turns then pull
the stem out for the necessary adjustment in time or date or whatever
your particular design allows you to do. But, this is where watch
owners get themselves into trouble. If you fail to screw the
crown closed, water will flow into the thing like you've never
possible. The stem (crown) have o-rings to keep water out when
the crown is properly screwed down. If you get water in through
the crown, whether it's a quartz or a mechanical,
get it to a watch repair shop quickly. Don't allow it to lie
around for several weeks before you get around to it. By then
your watch will be DEAD and probably severely damaged in some cases,
particularly a quartz. It may not be brought back to life except
by completely replacing the entire movement and that gets expensive,
probably more than the watch is worth. And, watch manufacturer's
warranties do not cover water infiltration through the crown left
unwound. Just so you know, they will test the watch to determine
whether the crown seal is leaking, so if you left it unscrewed and
exposed it to water, don't bother the manufacturer demanding a warranty
repair. They'll fix it in most cases, but they will charge you
for the repair costs. You're probably better off taking it to a
local watch repair shop in your local area.
Sometimes we get a person who will call within a week or two after
receipt of their watch and they say they got water in it and how is
that possible if the watch is water-resistant to 50 meters? Of
course when you ask the question about why they didn't screw down the
crown there is dead silence followed by 'What you mean, screw down the
crown? What's that?"
The bottom line is this. All water-resistant watches are tested
prior to leaving the factory. Seals simply don't fail out of the
box these days. It's possible to get an out-of-box failure, but
highly unlikely. Read
the instructions for your watch and take great care around
Water, especially coming out of a pressurized nozzle, spells DANGER for any water-resistant
watch. The amount of pressure created from
something as simple as a nozzle on the end of a hose while washing the
car on a Saturday morning can infiltrate a watch stem surprisingly easy
even when the crown is screwed down and the seals are in good
order. Watches are water-resistant, not water-proof and are
tested under the assumption that it will be under uniform
pressure. Water coming out of a high pressure nozzle is not
Frankly, I don't even take my watches into the shower with me and I
treat my watches as though they have little or no water-resistant
properties. I haven't had a watch go bad since. Before
that, anything around water was fair game, and I can't tell you how
water-resistant watches I lost by sticking my arm in a soapy bucket of
water while washing cars and constantly spraying them down with a water
hose. Within a couple of months, it's dead... in the water,
literally speaking. The seals rot from the soap, and again, not
much water pressure from a water hose will infiltrate the seal.
If you dive, you must have
your watch seals replaced annually.
Most divers are very aware of this requirement, but just in case you're
diving, make it a habit to maintain your dive watch or you could find
yourself in trouble at a most inopportune time.
So, keep your watch out of soapy water, keep lotions and hand creams
off your watch and stay away from garden hoses whether its a quartz,
digital, or mechanical. And, if you want
to really see your watch die a quick death, soak it down for a couple
of seconds with one of those high pressure motorized washers. You
fish inside the thing after that.
If I keep my watch away
from soaps and lotions and don't go near water very often, shouldn't
the seals on my watch last forever?
No. Most seals are made mostly from natural rubber or rubber
compounded with synthetics. Natural
rubber retains it's molded memory better than virtually any synthetic
seal out there. The problem with most synthetic materials is that
they will take a memory from pressure like a case back or a crown
screwed down. Natural rubber will retain it's originally
manufactured position much longer than most synthetic materials.
a synthetic takes a set from continuous pressure, it opens the door to
water infiltration. However, like tires on a car, rubber seals
degrade over time which necessitates replacement.
The following usage recommendations
are suggested by the Seiko Corporation of America:
Seiko does not
recommend swimming or diving with your watch unless
it has a screw-down crown (also known as ‘screw-lock’ or ‘screw-in’
crown) and is water-resistant to at least 100 meters.
to 30 meters (100 feet). Will withstand splashes of water or rain but
should not be worn while swimming or diving.
- Water-tested to 50 meters (165 feet). Suitable
for showering or swimming in shallow water.
- Water-tested to 100 meters (330 feet). Suitable
for swimming and snorkeling.
- Water-tested to 150 meters (500 feet). Suitable
- Water-tested to 200 meters (660 feet). Suitable
for skin diving.
- Diver's 150 meters (500 feet). Meets ISO
standards and is suitable for scuba diving.
- Diver's 200 meters (660 feet). Meets ISO
standards and is suitable for scuba diving.
For most military personnel going about their daily duties, even a 30
meter water-resistant watch is perfectly acceptable. During my
days in the Army, I wore the cheapest field watches money could buy and
not once during my normal course of activities did I ruin a watch with
water. None had a screw-down crown and some weren't even
water-resistant. It was always off duty that I screwed it
up. That's after three years in an armored division and 12 more
in Army watercraft operations on rivers, harbors and in coastal
operations. Basically, any watch rated for 50 meters with a
screwdown crown or better will do the job very well for most military
personnel. However, if you are engaged in military dive
operations, a professional diver's watch is not an option, it's a
necessity. For navy seals not engaged in diving operations and
special forces we recommend a 100 meter or higher rated
My watch crystal fogged
up. Does my watch have water in it?
Not necessarily. You can get any water-resistant watch to fog up,
especially on a hot day when exposed to cold water or jumping from the
hot tub into a cold pool, which is definitely not recommended.
Most fogging will clear within 24 hours or so, maybe a little
longer. However, if the crystal remains fogged for 48 hours or
longer, water has probably infiltrated the seals. Get it to a
watch repair shop as soon as possible to get it dried out and
Again, if you allow the water to remain, whether it's a mechanical or
quartz watch, it will destroy the watch in quick order. As a
general statement watches exposed to extreme temperature changes very
quickly, like cold to hot, or hot to cold, will cause expansion and
contraction of the watch components and mating parts such as the case
back and case, which can give a small droplet of water a momentary
opportunity to infiltrate into the watch. Again, treat your watch
with care around water, regardless of its depth rating and it will
mostly likely outlast the owner's life.