A decent quartz watch can probably give you a few years of quality use, though that’s typically expected given their price and level of craftsmanship. On the other hand, automatic watches are far more superior in these aspects because of their greater longevity. It is also why luxury automatic timepieces are often chosen as family heirlooms over their quartz counterparts.
Nevertheless, automatic watches don’t always last a lifetime. Today, we’ll go over the inner workings of an automatic timepiece. We will also talk about the things that differentiate an expensive model from an affordable one to help you understand the lasting quality of such a watch.
Before you read on, you might want to check out this piece on a quality watch for men that could help you understand automatic timepieces better.
The Lowdown on the Automatic Watch
The key to finding out how long an automatic watch lasts is to discover exactly what it is. Having been modeled after the classic mechanical watch, an automatic watch is also one that is driven by mechanical movements. Basically, the watch’s features harness the energy from the wearer’s swinging arms and then use that energy to operate the watch.
Types of Watch Movements
Before picking out a watch, it is ideal for one to learn about the three types of watch movements first. These are quartz, automatic, and manual. Which type fits your needs the most?
A quartz crystal is the driving force behind quartz watches, most of which run on batteries. Quartz watches belong to the less expensive category of timepieces notable for the “ticking” sounds given off by their left hand. More than that, though, their low price tag is their true selling point.
The quartz movement is also easier to construct than the automatic movement, which is why it is so often used in department-store timepieces.
Manual and Automatic
These are similar movement types in that they use mechanical elements for keeping time. They both draw energy from the mainspring, which builds tension and releases slowly to drive the gears of the watch.
That said, these two modes of function differ in terms of energy storage. While the manual watch requires manual winding to build tension, automatic timepieces make use of a self-winding mechanism to create that tension.
An automatic watch’s ability to harvest energy from the wearer’s swinging arms typically lies in a weight or ball bearing feature. This feature is what draws the energy from the user’s movement and then channels it into the mainspring for release.
On Accuracy of Automatic and Quartz Watches
Automatic and quartz watches draw power from mechanical and electrical circuits, respectively. Hence, it stands to reason that a potential wearer would want to know which is more accurate. While the current standing sees the automatic watch trailing in the precision race, it is not something you have to worry about in general.
Only the most skilled watchmakers handcraft automatic watches. Over time, they have improved their models design-wise and also made sure to boost the precision and accuracy of their products with every upgrade.
That said, cheaper and less accurate automatic watches do exist. And while they’ll do fine against the quartz watch in terms of quality, they won’t do as well when it comes to accuracy. Quartz and automatic timepieces belonging to the same price category are likely to keep time with the same precision. In fact, some of the best automatic watches can even outperform the best quartz models in terms of timekeeping.
How Long Does an Automatic Watch Last After Winding?
Back in the day, mechanical watches usually lasted 24 hours or less before they stopped working. Today, the average automatic timepiece can last you a little over two days when wound completely, sometimes even longer. Then, you will also find high-quality automatic watches that can go for weeks without winding.
Whether it’s the standard or high-end automatic watch, you will usually have enough time to not feel inconvenienced by the winding. Of course, if you plan to wear the watch daily, you might want to pick a model that can last more than a day without winding. For the occasional wearer, it’s recommended that you don’t go for a watch with more than 30 hours of wound-up energy.
Do They Last a Lifetime?
Unfortunately, a blanket answer doesn’t exist for this question. How long your watch lasts or if it will last a lifetime will truly depend on its quality. If it is one of those genuine high-end automatic watches, then it will easily last a hundred years.
Are Automatic Watches Worth It?
Some automatic timepieces can easily set you back $20,000, but that shouldn’t matter if you have the budget and are determined to own the piece. Watchmakers pour their heart and soul into their creations, which are usually durable enough to last several generations in your family. With that said, you can also get high-quality options for a fraction of the price you are used to seeing.