Should you Wind or Shake a Watch to Get it Started?

Rolex Yacht-Master 116621

Should you Wind or Shake a Watch to Get it Started?

If you have a mechanical watch, every now and then, the watch may stop, and you need to get it started again. This may happen to you more frequently or perhaps never depending on how often you wear your watch, if you let it rest in a watch winder, or if the reason may be that it’s your only watch.

A mechanical watch needs to get energy, and depending on what type of mechanical mechanism it uses, the power is generated in different ways.

For instance, a manual watch such as the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional requires the wearer to wind up the watch after a day of use, while an automatic watch, such as the Rolex Submariner reference 116610LN only requires the wearer to wear the watch and not let it rest for too long, as the power reserve will otherwise run out. But when your watch stops, regardless if its a manual or an automatic watch, how should you get it started in the best and least harmful possible way?

Manual watches

When it comes to manual watches, there is really not much of a choice but to wind the crown. This is something that Omega has taken into consideration when designing the crown and stem for the Speedmaster Professional.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Sapphire sandwic

In order to wind up the watch you don’t need to unscrew the crown from a crown tube, instead, you just start to wind the crown without having to unscrew or pull out the crown. This is a brilliant solution as the crown is not tightened to a crown tube which needs to be unscrewed every time you need to wind the watch. What would happen if this was required is that the crown tube would eventually wear out.

The crown is a relatively easy fix which often does not cost too much to exchange, especially for steel crowns. However, some cases are carved out from one piece of steel, meaning that the crown tube is part of the whole case. In the case that the crown tube is worn out and no longer operates as it should, the only solution would be to replace the whole case, which obviously costs a lot more than just replacing the crown.

Omega Speedmaster Michael Schumacher 3810.12.40

When you manually wind a manual watch you are generating power to the power spring, which tightens and gives power when it starts to loosen up. This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to have a mechanical watch with a long power reserve as it requires the power spring to accurately loosen up and thereby give power to the watch at the same speed and force at all times. This of course gets a lot tricker the longer the spring is.

If you have ever manually wound up a mechanical watch, no matter if it’s a manual or an automatic movement, after some turns, you will start to feel more resistance when trying to wind up the watch. With a manual watch, it is extremely important not to continue winding the watch when you start to feel a lot of resistance. This is an indication that the power reserve almost is fully wounded up, and if you were to continue winding the watch, eventually the power reserve spring would snap, which can be an expensive fix. Therefore it’s always important to pay attention when you are winding your manual watch, in order to prevent the power spring to snap.

This is not entirely true, however, as some manual watches today are equipped with a switch that prevents the mainspring to snap.

Automatic watches

Automatic watches, as mentioned earlier, require to be worn in order to wind up via the rotor and keep the power reserve with enough power to keep the watch ticking.

Depending on how often you wear your watch you may need to get it started. But as this is an automatic movement, which offers the possibility to also manually wind your watch, what is the best way to get your automatic watch started? The automatic movements are designed to generate power by wearing the watch, which means that it is safe to safely start to shake your watch to get the rotor inside spinning and generate power.

By manually winding your watch, it may feel better than shaking it to get it started, and as if you don’t harm the watch. But the fact is that the gaskets, crown, and stem may take damage over time by being manually wound.

By manually wind your watch too often, for a long period of time, the gaskets inside the crown section will be worn out faster, which makes it extra important to have your automatic watch pressure tested and serviced. As you are unscrewing the crown you also put wear to the crown’s threading which may wear out over time as well.

It isn’t, of course, unsafe to manually wind your automatic watch, but if you are doing it very often and have the intention of keeping your watch in pristine condition for a long period of time, without having to replace any parts, this may be something you consider not doing in the future.

As earlier mentioned manual movements can be over-wound which means that the power spring can snap, with automatic movements this is automatically prevented as the movements have an automatic mechanism that disconnects the rotor and wheels that wind the power spring. With this said you can technically wind your watch for as long as you want, although it is not recommended.


Which type of movement do you prefer and why? How do you usually get your watch started?

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