The Ins and Outs of Automatic Watch Care

April 20th, 2012 | 14 Comments

1. You wanted a great automatic mechanical watch (a.k.a. the watch of your dreams).
2. You found and purchased that watch.
3. Now you don’t know how to take care of it?

There are many options as to what you could do to your watch. Aside from the common watch care misconceptions, most tips are covered in a straightforward top 10 automatic watch care list.

Basically, don’t try to take the watch apart and/or destroy it.

But let’s be practical here.

Things you don’t have to worry about:

  • Changing the watch battery.

During your quest for the perfect automatic watch, you may have stumbled upon the fact that an automatic watch is not battery powered. One less thing to worry about.

Some things you may want to consider:




General Cleaning: The Basics

Never assume that a particular watch is water resistant because of the price. Not all watches are designed with the intent to be submerged, and it would be a shame to find out the hard way.

A Non-Water Resistant Automatic Watch:

    • To remove the everyday grime that collects on a watch, a cleaning (or polishing) cloth and toothpick should do the trick.


  • Be sure to check the watch to make sure if water resistance is a feature. It is usually engraved on the outer edge of the rear case.

A Water Resistant Automatic Watch:

  • A sponge and mild soap in addition to the polishing cloth and toothpick.

Not Your Regular Check Up

Well, sort of. The recommended amount of time to have your watch serviced by a professional is between 2-5 years for the simple purpose of making sure things are working the way they should be, and to make sure the parts are lubricated accordingly and the oil hasn’t dried up.

You’re traveling down a risky road if you try to tackle the internal parts/movement of the watch. Better to stick to external cleaning, and let the professionals take care of the more complicated maintenance.

It Works So You Don’t Have To

Torn beliefs on this one. An automatic watch ‘watch winder’ keeps the watch moving when the wearer is not wearing it. Sound confusing? It’s actually quite simple.

Since an automatic watch operates on stored motion, a period of inactivity will cause it to stop. An automatic watch winder moves the watch around when the wearer is not wearing it. This is great for a collector that may swap watches several times a week or more without having to reset a given watch each time. Additionally, it keeps the parts moving, which reduces the chance of stiffness and inaccuracy.

The opposing view is that this may wear the watch movements out faster.

Regardless, if you own an automatic watch, you should wind an automatic watch on a regular basis in addition to regular wear:

    • To ensure that the gear oil remains fluid.


  • Wind with the crown in the locked position. Turn the crown until some resistance is felt.

No need to get an automatic watch winder for your Orient automatic, however.

Orient watches have one of the most efficient auto-winding systems, according to the School of Horology:

Different Day, Different Look

The band of a watch can transform the entire feel. There is a great benefit of swapping straps on and off of your watch to change as the circumstance does. This is often seen in diver style watches like the Orient Mako. A rubber band is perfect for outdoors and active wear, whereas a thick leather band or solid end link bracelet has the ability to redefine the piece for more formal occasions.

Check out the following video for great step-by-step instructions on how to change a watch band. This is perfect for an inexperienced collector or a novice looking to refine their skills:

Now That You Know

Enjoy your watch. Just wearing it is half the battle. Basic cleaning and a little elbow grease should keep your automatic watch in tiptop shape.

Have any special tips for automatic watch care? Comment Below.

  1. 14 Comments | Tell us what you think!

  2. By Mike Chalk on Sep 23, 2009

    I wanna win an Orient Watch I have a Rolex but I want one of these too

  3. By drbob rogers on Sep 23, 2009

    No matter where you are, if cared for your automatic will not die of battery arrest. For those who like the simple wear it or no, an automatic with a watch winder will do the same…that’s why they are the best, service them and they are tickers, that will out live the beats of your heart.. and can be passed on to someone with a heart.. I have inherited many and wear them as a memory, not just for the time…

  4. By drbob rogers on Sep 23, 2009

    when you look at your wrist, you can think of all that wore this masterpiece before you…

  5. By Kevin on Sep 23, 2009

    Pretty interesting, especially the part about watch winders wearing out the movements faster. I never knew that such a problem could happen from something so simple!?

  6. By Sarah DeCui on Sep 23, 2009

    My husband in from Tialand or Orient country and I would like to surprise him with a gift

  7. By Toccs Namhsif on Sep 23, 2009

    Great info here. I have heard of people using a bit pf painters tape to protect the lugs when changing straps to avoid scratches…

  8. By kenny ngo on Sep 23, 2009

    its great

  9. By Rob on Sep 23, 2009

    I find it interesting that in this article you reference the Mako and how a strap/bracelet change can ‘transform the entire feel’. I have to agree as I just swapped the stock bracelet for a nice leather strap.

    However what I find even more interesting is that you suggest a solid end link bracelet as a good change, may I along with all the other Mako owners as why we should have to change to a SEL bracelet instead of having it come stock?

  10. By Frank In Miami on Sep 23, 2009

    1) If your watch has a screw down crown, GENTLY, unscrew and pull out the crown to prevent damage to the stem. When done adjusting your watch, GENTLY screw the crown back into the stem and against the case. Cross-threading stem damage from improper screw down crown handling is a common problem, so never force the crown in if it is refusing to go back into the stem. Go back and do it again. This is one reason why you should never adjust your mechanical watch in a hurry.

    2) Never wear your watch too tight if it has hollow end links (Thinking here of the Mako). Some folks fail to size the bracelet properly and wearing the watch tight puts undue tension over the spring bars that may bent and separate.

    3) Orient watches have very efficient auto winders. Don’t see the need for watch winders unless you wear the same watch in very frequent rotations. It is true that watch winders put more wear on the movement… It is a machine after all.

    4) Keep your bracelet and leather band clean. Leather bands are prone to premature wear, so take the time to keep them in good condition.

    5) Never understood why some guys feel the need to take showers with their watches on. Soap scum + dirt will collect in the bracelet and other nook and crevices in the watch. Why expose your timepiece to this type of activity?

    6) Shock is the #1 enemy of mechanical watches. If you have to work in a harsh environment, a cheap quartz or Casio watch is better suited for it. Save your mechanical and enjoy it when not working in the car or doing the yard.

    7) Mechanical watches can become magnetized, thus losing accuracy, or worse, stop working. Learn how to de-magnetize your watch should you ever encounter this situation.

    8) Resist the temptation to mess with your watch movement. It is good to learn and have curiosity but don’t practice on your fine timepiece. Buy an old beater for that purpose.

  11. By Frank In Miami on Sep 23, 2009

    Last but not least, there is no need to violently shake your mechanical watch to get the movement going. The general recommendation is that a few gentle side to side open arc swings should get it in motion. In my experience with Orient movement, just the act of pulling out the crown and adjusting the time get the movement going right away.

    When putting your watch on your wrist (or removing it) always do so in top of your bed or above a soft surface. Why? because if the watch slips from your hand/wrist it will fall on a cushioned surface. Lots of guys kill their watches because they put them on and remove them while standing on a hard floor surface. This may sound stupid to you, but it can happen and more so if you are in a hurry. Go and read stories of smashed high dollar timepieces because the watch slipped from the wearer’s hand by accident.

  12. By Rahul on Mar 26, 2011

    I own a Tissot seastar 1000 and I love it!

  13. By kim c on May 20, 2011

    I own several high end automatic watches and found thatgently cleaning with some rubbing alcohol does a great job

  14. By Ravi Sharma on Jun 26, 2012

    Dear Sirs, I am fanatic about mechanical watches, especially the automatic version. Here, in India, the finest mechanical watches are made by a brand called ‘HMT’ and I have four automatics and an equal number of hand-wound watches from this marque. I have devoted a huge number of hours over the Internet reading extensively about mechanical watches and leading brands. I have come to believe that Orient watches command a great deal of respect internationally in the automatic segment as they were among the pioneers in this field. Orient watches are known for their reliability,accuracy and impeccable workmanship.The prestige associated with owning an Orient automatic watch is matchless and second to none, given the phenomenal R&D put in by the engineers at Orient watches; it is definitely heirloom stuff. I would be delighted beyond words to win a free one of these!It would be, beyond doubt, like a jewel in the crown of my watch collection!

    Best regards,
    Ravi Sharma

  15. By david frank bugeja on Nov 11, 2013

    i always got some quartz watches as presents. after that the last one stopped working (even after repair), i did a quick search on the internet to purchase one of my own. and i got hooked by the fascinating automatic movement. i definitely wanted an automatic watch that is reliable and durable. of course i was on a strict budget. it had to be the orient mako! tons of fora talk about it and its almost impossible to find complains on this model from customer reviews. to be honest, i was sceptical at first because the brand name is not so well known as others. but once i got the watch i was honestly surprised by the quality. the movement is also very precise. the details of the watch are carefully manufactured.

    moreover, the customer care is fantastic. cant ask for more.

    regarding care, i would suggest to limit the necessity of adjusting the time in order not to damage the treads of the screw-down crown. automatic watches are less precise than quartz. mine does approximately +5 minutes per month. my advice is to periodically check the time with a quartz watch. if it is gaining time, rest the clock on its crown during nights as this would slow down the movement. and, if the watch is slowing down, just rest the watch on its back as this would accelerate the movement. like this there will be no need of adjusting the time.

    keep up the good work and thank you so much!

14 comments | Tell us what you think!