CIGA Watchers

A Brief History of Automatic Watches

Are you wearing a watch right now? More specifically, are you wearing an automatic watch? An automatic watch is basically a newer revision of mechanical watches.

You see, mechanical watches operate using a series of different springs and gears. It has a mainspring that coils tightly within the watch itself and the user will have to manually wind the coil down using the watch’s crown.

For a time, it was okay because people have adapted to the way it works, but there are some people that really do not like the mechanism because not only is it quite cumbersome to continually wind the mechanism yourself, the inner workings make it so common for people to lose track of time.

That is actually one of the major criticisms of manual mechanical watches because it is quite inaccurate in telling the time, not to mention that it can fully stop if you do forget to wound it up properly.

Aside from that, another disadvantage of the manual mechanical watches is that it is prone to external shocks and sudden movements. Because of how the spring and rotors work, you can expect some inaccuracies, especially if you are the type of person who kind of active.

These limitations and disadvantages have prompted watchmakers to fix the mechanical watch. Thus, the automatic watch is born.

The Automatic

An automatic watch is also known as a self-winding watch and that is mainly because of its mechanism. Instead of manually winding the watch using the crown, it instead makes use of weights to help configure the pivot, keeping the mainspring wound up.

The spinning weights allowed the rotor to continuously make circular movements that basically paves the way for the infamous smooth sweeping motion of the automatic watch.

The first-ever automatic watch was developed back in 1770s but because of its infancy, it was prone to a lot of limitations and disadvantages. Over time, however, the watch has been refined to what it is now today.


In 1770, Abraham-Louis Perrelet a Swiss Watchmaker, had devised the first plans of an automatic watch. He created the watch’s plans as a means to transfer energy that is created through the natural movements made by our bodies to help power the clock for at least eight days. But, as I’ve mentioned before, it was prone to a lot of inconsistencies.

Then, in 1778, the French inventor Hubert Sarton managed to come up with his own automatic watch that was inspired by Perrelet’s design- with a few slight modifications, of course.

Fast forward to the first World War and that is when the automatic watch really took off.

Because pocket watches are quite cumbersome to operate, especially during the heat of the battle, automatic watches were created to help tell the time and to help coordinate attacks through the army’s ranks.

John Hardwood was the first one to do that and because of his remarkable changes to the now-defunct design of the automatic watch, he made one that ratified the mistakes.

Since then, companies like Rolex and Patek Philippe chimed in with their own advancements by adding different components and make subtle changes to the design.

You could say that the history of the automatic watch has been rich and colorful, despite the challenges that this watch has faced.