Understanding the Functions and History of the Movement of Automatic Watches

28 January 2021

Even though smartphones and other smart devices can already tell time, there are a lot of people around the world that still hold onto their conventional watches in knowing the exact time. Watches still hold great value in terms of time-telling needs as well as the added appeal to their respective wearers.

Watches have seen numerous evolutions throughout history. These portable timepieces were not even worn around the wrist before. They were simply being carried around and put inside the pocket. Aside from their form factor, the mechanism that allows accurate measurement of time has also seen multiple upgrades and enhancements along the way.

Overview of Automatic Watches

One type of watch movement that is still being used today is the automatic movement. Watches with automatic movement maximise the natural movements of the wearer’s wrist for them to operate and function. When worn every day, automatic watches do not have to be winded by hand just to keep them moving. The utilisation of the wearer’s movement is possible thanks to the winding rotor that rotates alongside the said movement. As the winding rotor moves, it automatically winds the mainspring. Manual winding, however, is still possible if one would intend to keep the watch running even if it is not worn.

Aside from not requiring any battery to run, automatic watches can also be differentiated from other types of watches just by looking at their second-hand. The second-hand of automatic watches moves in a fluid, sweeping motion around the watch dial. Quartz watches, which is another type of watches, have second-hand that moves once per second and would only work if they are equipped with a battery.

History of Automatic Movement

It is believed that the first watch with an automatic movement was invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 1770s. This specific watch gets its energy through the movement of the wearer, allowing it to run for up to eight hours a day. Hubert Sarton, however, further revolutionised this specific watch that makes it popular in the public. These watches, however, are not the usual wristwatches that are known today. These were pocket watches that Abraham-Louis Breguet has designed around the same time. Unfortunately, pocket watches have declined in sales and were replaced by wristwatches.

Wristwatches became popular during WWI and have been the main form factor for watches ever since. The presence of automatic watches around the wearer’s wrist allows them to operate almost all the time as the energy transfer is much easier and more efficient. John Harwood is known to be the inventor of the very first automatic wristwatch. From the day he invented this specific wristwatch, multiple components have been added to make it both functional and stylish.

If you want to know more about automatic watches, you can contact us at Ken Ross Jewellers. We have been in business for over 50 years, producing and maintaining fine jewellery and watches.

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