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FAQs about Automatic Watches
The following is a compilation of information taken from various manufacturers
and watch experts in the industry plus our own experiences.  A lot of the information below,
particularly the information on water resistance, is applicable to quartz watches as well.

What 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 kinetic energy.

I purchased an Orient Automatic.  What happens if it breaks down during the warranty period?
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 routinely.

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 acceptable.

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, for the 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 watches that 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 are very 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 based 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 again.


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.  Certainly, 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 Watch Maintenance:

Although automatic mechanical watches do not have batteries, some easy-to-follow maintenance is necessary for continued and long-lasting good use.

Self-winding automatic 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 seconds.

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 most aficionados will say every year, for a "lube job."  Every watch should be maintained, including quartz analog watches.  Most watches 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 'jeweled' 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 with hardened 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 generations.  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 to 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 the 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 the 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 watch.  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 money.  Like 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 thought 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. 

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 engineered and tested  under  the assumption that it will be under uniform pressure.  Water coming out of a high pressure nozzle is not uniform pressure.  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 many 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 new to 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 can raise 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.  Once a synthetic takes a set from continuous pressure, it opens the door to water infiltration.  However, like tires on a car, rubber seals tends to degrade over time which necessitates replacement.

The following usage recommendations are suggested by the Seiko Corporation of America:
  • Water-resistant 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 for snorkeling.

  • 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.
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.

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 watch.

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 lubed.  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.


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