Let’s Get Technical


Are you in the market for a watch but find yourself wondering about the difference between automatic and hand winding mechanical watches? Are you not entirely sure which watch is right for you? Do not worry, you are not alone! It can be tricky to navigate the world of watch movements, but at Hamilton Jewelers, we are here to assist our customers to move in the right direction. We will break down the differences between automatic and hand winding mechanical watches so that you can have a better understanding of the technical aspects behind your favorite timepieces. Are you ready to dive into the world of watch movements? Let’s get technical!


The Differences

What exactly is the difference between automatic and hand winding mechanical watches? Both types of watches are driven by the intricate mechanics inside, but they offer different experiences. Let us start with the basics: 

Not Battery Powered

First and foremost, it is important to distinguish that hand winding and automatic watches are not battery powered like, say, a quartz timepiece. Mechanical watches are powered by a mainspring and a series of gears and springs. Which means within this category we get the two ways to power a mechanical watch: Automatic and hand winding. 

Automatic Watches- Powered by Natural Motion

An automatic watch, also known as a self-winding watch, is powered by the natural motion of the wearer's arm. As you move throughout your day, the motion of your arm winds a tiny rotor inside the watch, which in turn winds the mainspring. This mainspring stores the energy needed to power the watch and keep it ticking.

Breitling Avenger Automatic 43

This Breitling Avenger Automatic is the picture of sleek sophistication. This watch is shock resistant, which means your watch movement is protected from drops or jolts and has options for a stainless steel or leather band.


Hand Winding Watches- Requires Winding

On the other hand, a hand winding mechanical watch requires manual winding. To keep this watch running, you will need to turn the crown on the side of the watch, winding the mainspring by hand. It is like giving your watch a little boost of energy to keep it going.

Patek Philippe 18k White Gold Complications

With its bold blue face and alligator strap this Patek Philippe manual wind watch is a stunner of a timepiece.  


The Mechanics

Now, let us get into the nitty-gritty of the mechanics behind automatic and hand winding mechanical watches so you can learn which style is best for you

Automatic Watches- Tiny Rotor

Automatic watches are equipped with a tiny rotor that moves as you swing your arm throughout the day. This rotor, connected to the mainspring, spins around, and winds the watch, storing energy to keep it ticking. It is like a little energy dance happening on your wrist, powered by the natural motion of your arm. Talk about wearable technology! 

Montblanc Star Legacy Moonphase and Date 36mm

This Montblanc automatic timepiece has many beautiful features including its silvery-white dial, a moon phase indicator between the 10 and 11 o’clock, and a date dial at 6 o’clock encircled with 34 diamonds.  


Hand Winding Watches- Manual Mainspring Tightening

Hand winding mechanical watches require a manual touch. As previously mentioned, to wind these beauties, you will need to turn the crown on the side of the watch. This winding action tightens the mainspring, storing energy to power the watch. It is like giving your watch a personalized pep talk, letting it know that it is time to get moving. 

Laurent Ferrier Bridge Watch

This Laurent Ferrier manual wind watch’s design is Inspired by the famed bridge Passerelle de I’lle in Geneva. It has a brown leather strap and an 80-hour power reserve.  


The Pros- Automatic Watches

Ah, automatic watches. No manual winding, no hassle. Just slap it on your wrist and let your natural arm movements do the work. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it certainly has its pros and cons. First off, automatic watches are incredibly convenient. No need to worry about setting the time or remembering to wind it every day. As long as you wear it regularly, and get it serviced when needed, it will stay powered and keep ticking away. It is like having a personal assistant on your wrist, always ready to tell you the time. 

Another major advantage is the smooth, continuous movement of the second hand. Automatic watches have a sweeping motion that adds a touch of elegance and sophistication. It is a small detail, but it makes a world of difference. 

The Cons- Automatic Watches

Now, onto the cons. One of the main drawbacks of automatic watches is their accuracy. While they are generally reliable, they can be less precise than their quartz counterparts. If precision is crucial to you, you might want to consider a quartz watch instead. 

Additionally, automatic watches can be a bit more expensive. The intricate mechanisms and craftsmanship that go into their production can drive up the price tag. But hey, who said style comes cheap? 

Breitling Chronomat B01 42mm Watch

Considered Breitling’s watch for your everyday wear this automatic chronomat watch features a bold look with an 18k red gold and anthracite dial and black rubber strap. 


The Pros- Hand Winding Watches

Hand winding watches may not be as convenient as their automatic counterparts, but they certainly have their pros and cons.  

One of the major advantages of hand winding watches is their precision. These timepieces are known for their accuracy, often rivaling even the most advanced quartz watches. If you are a stickler for precise timekeeping, a hand winding watch is the way to go. 

Another benefit is the satisfaction you get from winding your watch yourself. It is like giving it a little personal touch, a gesture of love and care. And let us not forget the connection you develop with your watch as you wind it every day. It becomes a ritual, a moment of Zen in this hectic world. 

The Cons- Hand Winding Watches

The main drawback of hand winding watches is the need for manual winding. It can be a hassle, especially if you are forgetful or always on the go. An automatic watch may be better for you if remembering to wind your watch every day to keep it running smoothly is a bother.  

Feeling a little more like a watch aficionado? In the end, the choice between automatic and hand winding watches comes down to personal preference. Whether you prefer the convenience of an automatic watch or the personal touch of a hand winding watch, these timepieces are a testament to human ingenuity and craftsmanship. And we cannot forget, they also happen to look darn good on your wrist.  

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pioneer Mechanical Chrono Watch

With a vintage military design, this Hamilton hand winding watch has a beautifully masculine design and is reliable.  


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