How to care for an automatic watch?

When your favorite accessory is running on your wrist and always shows the right time, not only every man is happy, but more and more women are too. Because everyone wants to wear their favorite piece for a lifetime, whether it’s a family heirloom or a new luxury watch. But the more complex the design, the more complicated the maintenance of the watch.

The heart of an automatic watch consists of complex and highly sensitive technology. The small elements such as tension springs, gears and escapement are precisely matched to each other and thus guarantee the smooth functioning of the watch movement. In everyday life, however, the watches are constantly exposed to high loads and make automatic watch care indispensable. But how do I properly care for an automatic watch?? What should I pay attention to? You can read exactly that here in this guide.

Temperature fluctuations and environmental influences

Extreme cold and heat should be avoided when wearing or storing an automatic watch. If automatic watches are exposed to temperatures above 50°C for long periods of time, or to temperatures well below freezing, this can have a negative impact on the life of the watch. Approximately 30 ° C is the regular temperature when worn on the wrist. This means that you should avoid lying in the blazing sun with the automatic watch on your wrist and then jumping directly into cold water. In addition, the watch should not be left on a cold glass surface, even overnight.

Weather-related environmental influences also play a major role and should not be disregarded in order to guarantee flawless rate accuracy. These include, for example, strong sunlight or UV radiation, and excessive humidity. Direct sunlight, for example, can cause discoloration of the dial and hands. If moisture gets into the case, condensation will form under the watch glass, which will impair the function of the movement and the watch will have to be repaired by a specialist. The sensitive watch technology is very sensitive and often underestimated. The wearer of the automatic watch should therefore avoid jerky shock movements, strong shaking or knocks. That is why the watch should be worn during sporting activities such as z.B. tennis or basketball and handicraft activities like z.B. Drilling or hammering should not be worn.

  • Automatic watch movement with fine mechanism (photo: © schlichteasy – stock.Adobe.Com)

In addition, automatic watches should be kept away from magnetic fields such as.B. loudspeakers, refrigerators and microwaves, as individual components of the movement, especially the coil spring, could be unintentionally magnetized. this often leads to a non-linear gait with strong gait deviations, as the individual components stick to each other and no longer function properly, thus limiting functionality. The affected parts can then only be demagnetized by a specialist.

The case of an automatic watch can be attacked due to chemical reactions. As a result, not only optical deficits can occur, but also the inner life of the watch can be attacked. The main cause of this is cleaning agents that are mistakenly used to clean the automatic watch, even though they are not suitable for this purpose. Also, residues such as sweat, which is caused by the daily and possibly also the. Also night wear is secreted, can cause a chemical reaction and attack the case of the watch, because the sweat has a high salt content. If you go swimming in salt water with a waterproof automatic watch, you should rinse it with tap water after the activity.

However, mechanical abrasion is the greatest threat to the case of the automatic watch. This is caused by mechanical stress such as friction. This friction generates very small dust particles and separates them out. If these dust particles get into the movement, they can cause more damage there than, for example, unsightly scratches on the housing, which are usually only a visual nuisance.

To avoid rubbing the case of the watch, it should always be handled with care. this means that the automatic watch should not be stored with other items or placed carelessly on hard surfaces.

If you are swimming or diving with a waterproof automatic watch, then the exact specifications should be followed. Because the maximum water pressure is crucial for the suitability of the watch. 5 bar corresponds to about 50 meters and this only means that the watch is protected against splash water. 10 bar is equivalent to 100 meters and this means that you can wear the watch for swimming and water sports activities. 20 bar corresponds to 200 meters and this means that the watch can be used for diving. you should also check that the crown is securely screwed down and in the starting position each time you go into the water. Do not make any adjustments to the automatic watch in water.

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The correct winding

For an automatic watch to always show the correct time, it must be adequately wound. Here are some points to keep in mind so that the complex and sensitive technology is not stressed or even damaged.

To avoid damaging the movement, older models in particular should only be wound up until the first resistance is felt. This prevents the overwinding of the spring, since the old models often do not have a slipping clutch. As a rule, 20 to 30 revolutions of the crown should be sufficient. If the one hand on the upper half of the dial is between 9:00 and 3:00, then the date quickset should not be used to set the date. There is a risk that the date spring could break if it is in the automatic date change area (from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.). Basically, the date on an automatic watch should always be adjusted only forward and not backward. Furthermore, the hands of an automatic watch should not be turned back counterclockwise past 12:00 noon.

The correct storage

In order to avoid functional limitations due to the sensitive technology of automatic watches, they must always be stored adequately.

The best place for this is an enclosed environment where the watch is protected from direct sunlight, small dust particles swirling around and moisture. Special watch boxes are very suitable for storage. However, the ideal storage for an automatic watch is a "watch winder". Depending on how the watch is placed, the position will affect the accuracy of the watch. If an automatic watch is stored with the crown facing upwards, the watch will run slower because the balance is in a suspended position and the friction resistance is increased. If an automatic watch is placed with the crown down, the watch will run faster because the balance is in a standing position and there is less friction resistance. The ideal bearing is therefore a constantly changing position. This is achieved through the use of a watch winder. In a watch winder, the watch is protected in the best possible way from harmful environmental influences and moved automatically so that the movement can work optimally.

  • Automatic watches in special watch winder (photo: © norgal – stock.Adobe.Com)

In this way, the watch retains its accuracy and the filigree technology inside is optimally protected by the regular movements from damage caused by gumming lubricating oils or incorrect positioning over a longer period of time. Whether it’s a brand new luxury watch, a trendy accessory or an old family heirloom, with proper care your favorite watch will last a lifetime.

The cleaning of an automatic watch

In daily routine, contact with dust and dirt can hardly be avoided, so regular cleaning is indispensable, but you should pay attention to the following things:

If possible, automatic watches should always be cleaned dry with a soft microfiber or cotton cloth. Automatic watches that are water resistant (between three and five bar) can be cleaned with a soft, slightly damp cotton cloth.

Automatic watches that are water resistant (at least ten bar) can also be cleaned under running water. With these watches, a little soap can also be used. After cleaning, the watch should be carefully dried with a soft cloth. Do not use strong detergents, as they usually contain aggressive ingredients that can cause chemical reactions on the case and often affect the waterproof function. To remove heavy soiling, it is best to use mild detergents or special cleaning agents for watches. Hard-to-reach places are best reached with a cotton swab or a soft toothbrush. Damage to the case should be repaired by a professional watchmaker, if possible, because only in this way can the integrity of the case be optimally guaranteed. Only a completely sealed case can adequately protect the movement.

Rubber, stainless steel or textile watch straps are also best cleaned with a gentle cleaner, although a toothbrush can also be used for coarse dirt. However, caution is advised with leather watch bands, as these should not come into contact with moisture if possible. It is best to remove them first and clean them separately. Please also note the individual manufacturer’s recommendations for the respective model.

Professional overhaul by a watchmaker

With the self-performed cleaning you reach only the outside of your watch. After a period of five to ten years, however, a complete overhaul of the technology proves to be quite sensible. Because components of the movement become dusty and seals become porous over time. The automatic watch should then be overhauled by a professional.

  • Professional revision of an automatic watch (photo: © jochen seelhammer – stock.Adobe.Com)

Professional watchmakers check and clean the inside of the watch and make sure that all relevant parts of the movement are freshly oiled and adjusted. That is why you should not open the case by yourself in the first place. Because good care and maintenance helps an automatic watch last a lifetime.

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