How exactly does an automatic movement work??

Automatic watches

With an automatic watch, the movement is the be-all and end-all. If these watches are to work, it needs the movement of the watch by wearing it on the wrist or a watch winder. We explain to you what goes on inside the watch.

Basically, the automatic movement is a normal mechanical watch movement with an additional mechanism that ensures that the watch winds itself. Although the individual components of this mechanism differ slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, almost all automatic movements are based on the same principle: with the help of kinetic energy, e.g. the power of the motor, the movement is adjusted.B. By means of an arm movement, energy is transferred to a tension spring by means of a rotor/rotating mass, which is thus tensioned. This principle is made possible by gravity (the force of attraction of the earth), which makes the rotor permanently move towards the center of the earth. this ingenious system means that automatic watches do not need batteries and manual winding is also unnecessary.

Flywheel mass and spring

On watches with a visible back, such as this omega speedmaster chronograph, the flywheel mass very nice to see. The semicircular and movable oscillating weight, mounted on ball bearings, is the uppermost part of the movement when viewed through the base. When the watch is moved, it swings with it.

Omega Speedmaster Chronograph: Back

Omega speedmaster chronograph: back side

The minute wheel, which is connected to the oscillating weight tension spring The headlamp unit is under tension and tries to return to its original shape. This creates the actual driving force. The mainspring is a flat rolled steel wire in a spiral form.

Tension spring of an automatic movement

mainspring of an automatic movement

Such a spring takes up less space than a classic spring, such as the one used in a ballpoint pen, and also stores more energy.

The gear train

The energy generated by the spring is transferred to the watch’s gear train. The gear train includes the minute wheel, a intermediate wheel as well as the second wheel. these small gears are switched one after the other and cause the movement of the minute and second hand of a watch. The running of the wheels is smooth on a mechanical movement and results in a constant glide of the hands on the dial, unlike a quartz watch where the hands jump to the next index.

The anchor

Inhibition is the clock of the watch, so to speak, and is composed of anchor wheel, anchor and the balance wheel. The second wheel meshes with the escape wheel (also a gear) and the function of the escapement is now to "inhibit" the transmitted driving force and prevent the energy from being released too quickly.

Escapement: balance, pallet, escape wheel

escapement: balance, anchor, escape wheel

The anchor is like a pendulum that swings back and forth, hooking into the escape wheel to stop it at regular intervals. The actual clock generator is thereby the unruh. This is why it is also called a gear regulator.

Tick tock
the familiar "tick tock" sound of a watch is caused by the escape wheel teeth striking the plates of the two escape arms. Since the arms have a different length, it goes "tick tock" and not evenly "tick tock".

next week’s blog post will be all about the history of automatic watches. Be curious.

Watch winder
if an automatic watch is not worn for a longer period of time, it can be kept running by a watch winder. In our online store you will discover watch winders different brands, for one or more watches. Find out when it makes sense to buy a watch winder in this blog post.

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