An automatic watch is, first of all, a mechanical watch. Unlike quartz watches which require power from a cell or battery, mechanical watches operate independently. However, it is necessary to wind the watch manually or to use a watch winder.
A mechanical watch works using a spiral-shaped spring, called a “barrel spring.” Tense stores energy that it releases when relaxed. A standard mechanical watch requires winding the mechanism daily.
On the other hand, Automatic watches are wound thanks to the movements of the wearer, which create energy. They, therefore, need to be reassembled less frequently. A little less precise than quartz watches, they have the advantage of being more durable.
The Automatic Watch Appeared In The 18th Century.
It is commonly believed that the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented the rotor winding mechanism in 1777. He called the watches resulting from this discovery “jerk watches” because they function thanks to the movements of their wearer.
However, other documents allow us to state that the Liège watchmaker Hubert Sarton was at the origin of the first rotor winding mechanisms in 1777. Abraham-Louis Breguet had already tried to create such an operation. He gave up; the process was considered too expensive and complex.
It was when he saw Perrelet’s that he retook an interest in automatic watches. He then improved their mechanism. He called these watches “perpetual.” Other watchmakers took an interest in the automatic watch and created their system.
A New Lease Of Life With The Wristwatch
Subsequently, the popularization of the wristwatch gave new life to the self-winding watch. Indeed, the wrist movements were too strong, and it was necessary to find a mechanism less sensitive to the movements than the previous one.
In 1924, the English John Harwood and Harry Cutis filed a patent for a mass (or rotor) mechanism that pivoted on two sides for more stability. However, it was not possible to use a winder, the box containing the mechanisms being sealed. This prompted other watchmakers to circumvent this problem, and so were born the various models of automatic watches that we know today.
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