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Rolex Datejust 126200 Unworn Steel 36mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
TOP
Rolex Datejust 126200 Stainless Steel Silver Dial 36mm Watch...
£6,495
Free shipping
Professional dealer
13
UK
Ulysse Nardin 263-35 Very good Steel 43mm Automatic
TOP
Ulysse Nardin Marine Automatik Black Steel Yacht Club 263-35...
£3,494
Professional dealer
5027
DE
Fortis 901.20.165 Very good Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Fortis Pilot Classic Date Automatik Stahl Herrenuhr Ref....
£1,079
Professional dealer
5027
DE
Rolex Datejust Very good Yellow gold Automatic United Kingdom, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
TOP
Rolex Datejust 279138RBR
£25,523
Professional dealer
211
UK
Chopard Mille Miglia 168997-3001 Very good Steel 44mm Automatic
TOP
Chopard Mille Miglia Gran Turismo GT XL Automatik Stahl Ref....
£3,236
Sold by Chrono24
DE
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Good Carbon 42mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Carbon Mens Watch...
£22,131
Professional dealer
272
US
Omega Constellation 168.005 Fair Gold/Steel 34.0mm Automatic
TOP
Omega Constellation Cal. 564
£1,215
Professional dealer
22
US
Cartier Santos (submodel) W2SA0008 Unworn Steel 43mm Automatic
TOP
Cartier Santos De Cartier Chronograph Two Tone Custom Diamond...
£25,993
Professional dealer
850
US
Cartier Tank Française W51002Q3 Very good Steel 28mm Automatic
TOP
Cartier Tank Francaise 2302 Automatic SS W51002Q3 Mens...
£2,740
Professional dealer
68
US
TAG Heuer Monaco CW211A Good Steel 38mm Automatic
TOP
TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Limited Edition
£3,118
Professional dealer
290
US
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight M79030B Unworn Steel 39mm Automatic United Kingdom, Norwich
TOP
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight – 2020 – Full Set
£2,750
Professional dealer
257
UK
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally FC-397HSG5B6 Very good Steel 42mm Automatic
TOP
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
£1,113
Professional dealer
17
US
Jacob & Co. Astronomia JCAA06 Unique Edition Very good Rose gold 50mm Automatic
Jacob & Co. Astronomia
£408,464
Professional dealer
12
US
IWC Porsche Design Very good Aluminum 38mm Automatic
TOP
IWC Schaffhausen Porsche Design Kompass Automatik Datum...
£1,596
Sold by Chrono24
DE
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Good Steel 42mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Blue Dial Mens Watch...
£21,239
Professional dealer
272
US
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 76080 Very good Steel 24mm Automatic United Kingdom, Liverpool
TOP
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady 24mm 76080 PINK Diamond Dial
£3,150
Free shipping
Professional dealer
32
UK
Cartier Pasha W3019351 Very good Rose gold 42mm Automatic United Kingdom, NORTH WALES
TOP
Cartier Pasha
£7,890
Professional dealer
109
UK
TAG Heuer 2000 165.806 Very good Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
TAG Heuer Model Super 2000 Ref.165.806/1 Lemania LWO 283...
£2,149
Professional dealer
68
US
Chopard Mille Miglia 16/8331 Very good Steel 39mm Automatic
TOP
Chopard Mille Miglia 8331 Automatic w Box
£1,856
Professional dealer
290
US
Tudor Black Bay Bronze 79250BB Unworn Steel 41mm Automatic United Kingdom, Norwich
TOP
Tudor Black Bay Bucherer – 2021 – Unworn
£3,650
Professional dealer
257
UK
Rolex GMT-Master II 16710 Unworn Steel 40mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
TOP
Rolex GMT-Master II NOS 16710
£20,950
Free shipping
Professional dealer
825
UK
Richard Mille RM 60-01 Unworn Titanium 50mm Chronograph
Richard Mille Regatta Flyback Chronograph
£144,819
Professional dealer
12
US
Chopard Two O Ten 8961 Very good Steel 39mm Automatic
TOP
Chopard Tycoon Chronograph Automatik Datum Edelstahl Herrenuhr...
£2,804
Sold by Chrono24
DE
Rolex Daytona 116520 Very good Steel 40mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
Rolex Daytona 40m. Stainless Steel Box & Papers 2015
£25,300
Professional dealer
19
UK
Tudor Prince Date 74033 Unworn Gold/Steel 34mm Automatic United Kingdom, Liverpool
TOP
Tudor Prince Date 74033 Two Tone 18ct Gold & Steel NEW
£2,495
Free shipping
Professional dealer
32
UK
A. Lange & Söhne Grand Langematik 309.031 Very good Rose gold 40mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
TOP
A. Lange & Söhne Grand Langematik 309.031 Rose gold, with papers
£17,500
Free shipping
Professional dealer
33
UK
Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M 2531.80 Very good Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Omega Seamaster Automatic 2531.80 James Bond Blue Wave...
£3,115
Professional dealer
US
Fortis 401.26.37 L.10 Very good Steel 42mm Automatic
TOP
Fortis Stratoliner Ceramic All Black Limited Edition ONLY 200...
£1,410
Professional dealer
290
US
Tudor Black Bay Bronze 79250BA-0002 Very good Bronze 43mm Automatic United Kingdom, Norwich
TOP
Tudor Black Bay Bronze – 2020 – Full Set
£2,750
Professional dealer
257
UK
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tourbillon Q1652420 Very good Rose gold 41.5mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
TOP
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tourbillon Rose Gold Q1652420
£29,950
Free shipping
Professional dealer
825
UK
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 26210OI.OO.A109CR.01 Unworn Rose gold 44mm Automatic
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Lebron James
£63,126
Professional dealer
12
US
Omega De Ville Co-Axial 4677.60.37 Very good Yellow gold 35mm Automatic
TOP
Omega De Ville 18K Gold Diamanten Chronograph Automatik...
£7,463
Sold by Chrono24
DE
Rolex Daytona 116518LN Very good Yellow gold 40mm Automatic United Kingdom, London
Rolex 116518LN Daytona 40mm. Yellow Gold 18k. Panda Dial Box &...
£35,000
Professional dealer
19
UK
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Date 79240 Good Steel 26mm Automatic United Kingdom, Liverpool
TOP
Rolex Datejust 79240 26mm Blue Diamond Dial
£3,750
Free shipping
Professional dealer
32
UK

Automatic Watches: Self-Winding Mechanical Timepieces

Automatic watches are powered by the natural motion of your wrist while you wear them. This type of watch has a rich history reaching back to the 18th century. Today, countless brands produce their own automatic calibers for their watches.


Highlights

  • Automatically wound by the natural movements of your arm
  • Environmentally-friendly: No batteries to produce or throw away
  • The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is one of the most famous automatic watches
  • John Harwood is considered the inventor of the automatic wristwatch
  • Automatic watches available in almost every price range

Automatic Watches: Self-Winding Timepieces

Automatic watches fall under the larger umbrella term of mechanical watches. They offer a key advantage over manual timepieces: They wind automatically via the movement of the wearer's arm. An oscillating mass inside the caliber is responsible for winding the spring. Today, this is in most cases a winding rotor. It is flexibly mounted so that gravity pulls it towards the center. When you're wearing the watch and move your wrist, the rotor moves and gives the caliber new energy. Automatic watches don't require batteries, making mechanical watches comparably more environmentally friendly than battery-powered quartz watches.

Automatic watches are available from almost every famous watch manufacturer in all price ranges. Less expensive models are often powered by base calibers made by the ébauche manufacturers ETA, Soprod, or Sellita. Various manufacturers use these calibers in a more or less reworked form in their watches. These calibers even power the watches made by famous brands such as Breitling and TAG Heuer. However, both manufacturers have developed their own in-house movements as well.

Rolex and Patek Philippe are some of the most well-known watch manufacturers. Unlike many other brands, these two Geneva-based manufacturers don't outsource base calibers. Instead, they use their own. For example, Rolex's caliber 3130 is considered very robust, reliable, and precise. These qualities and more make the caliber one of the best automatic movements on the market; it powers Rolex watches such as the Submariner. Since Rolex produces their watches almost entirely in-house, production is costlier. This results in higher prices for automatic watches with in-house movements.


Buying Tips

If you're searching for an automatic watch, the hard part is actually choosing one. Should it be large or small, simple or extravagant, affordable or expensive? The selection is ample for every taste and budget. Pre-owned automatic watches from Citizen, Seiko, or Swatch are available for around 50 euros. These watches often only have three hands for the hours, minutes, and seconds. Some also have a date or even day/date display.

In the price range between 100 and 200 euros, you can find diverse new automatic watches from brands like Seiko or Fossil. Pre-owned watches from long-established manufacturers such as Tissot, Hamilton, or Longines cost up to 500 euros. The situation is similar in the 1,000 euros and under price range, though here you can also find new models from the German brand Marcello C.

In the 1,000 euro price range, you can find pre-owned Omega or Breitling watches. New automatic three-hand watches are available from Oris, Raymond Weil, or Rado.

However, if you're looking for an automatic chronograph, you need to adjust your budget accordingly. A pre-owned automatic chronograph costs at least 500 euros; this applies to watches from brands such as Tissot or Hamilton. New chronographs cost a few hundred euros more, around 800 euros. These watches are often powered by ETA's Valjoux 7750, which is considered one of the most successful automatic chronograph calibers in the world.

If you're searching for a new automatic Rolex, you need to plan on spending at least 3,000 euros. You can purchase the introductory model, Oyster Perpetual, for this price. You can occasionally find pre-owned vintage watches from this Genevan manufacturer for less than 1,000 euros. The Submariner, one of the first and most famous diving watches in the world, is available pre-owned for around 4,100 euros. New, it costs around 5,600 euros. Rolex's chronograph, the Daytona, is available for around 7,500 euros.

The most expensive automatic watches are from brands such as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. These watches are often made of platinum or 18-karat gold and feature countless diamonds on their dial and/or case. At times, these watches are also incredibly expensive as they're rare vintage watches coveted by collectors. Prices over 1 million euros are not too rare when it comes to these watches.


The Technology Behind Automatic Watches

The mainspring of an automatic watch is, as the name suggests, automatically wound by the movement itself. The mainspring is wound, becomes tense, and stores energy. This happens through the natural movements of the wearer's arm when the watch is on his or her wrist. This mechanism eliminates the need to manually wind the mainspring. Instead, an oscillating mass - often the rotor - winds the mainspring. Gravity causes the flexibly mounted rotor to move towards the center and a gear-train transfers the energy from the rotor's movement to the barrel. Viewed from a physics standpoint, the mechanism converts kinetic energy into potential energy.

There are automatic movements that wind in one or both directions. Bi-directional winding movements have so-called reverser gears. These ensure that the rotor winds the barrel in both directions. Uni-directional winding movements actually wind bidirectionally, but the mainspring is only wound in one direction. Both variants have a reduction gear which converts the fast movements of the rotor into slower movements with more torque. The end of the mainspring is not directly connected to the barrel so that it doesn't snap off when it's fully wound. The outer end of the spring is outfitted with a bridle, which keeps the pressure on the mainspring's outermost coil. When not fully wound, that pressure allows the outer end of the mainspring to be caught in a notch in the barrel wall. Once the spring is fully wound, it moves along to the next notch.

Automatic watches have many advantages: They're comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and usually more precise. This improved precision is due to the mainspring, which is always tense and has a more constant torque than mainsprings in hand-wound calibers. This has a positive effect on the amplitude. The amplitude is the balance wheel's degree of rotation and refers to the wheel's maximum rotation angle between equilibrium and a reversal point.

Technical Details of Automatic Watches

  • The winding rotor winds the mainspring in the barrel
  • Advantages: no manual winding required, environmentally-friendly, more precise
  • Uni-directional and bi-directional winding movements

The Origins of Automatic Watches

Automatic winding is one of the most important and long-lasting innovations in the history of watchmaking and the mechanism is one of the most widespread complications in use today.

Today's automatic watches can trace their origin back to the year 1729. Abraham-Louis Perrelet improved the winding mechanism of pocket watches in the 18th century. A small key was required to wind a movement before this improvement. Since the key was never there when you needed it, winding mechanisms that didn't require a key were in high demand. Perrelet wanted to invent a self-winding pocket watch. In 1770, he introduced his pedometer watch after countless attempts. The watch had an oscillating weight which teetered back and forth as the wearer walked. The motion caused the oscillating weight to tense the mainspring. Perrelet also developed a caliber with a winding rotor which swiveled above the movement. With these innovations, the groundwork for today's automatic watches was laid.

Refined men carried their pocket watches tucked away safely in their jacket, vest, or pants. The timepieces barely moved while in their pockets, which meant that the oscillating mass didn't have enough energy to wind the mainspring. The crown-wind method solved the key-wind problem in the mid-19th century, making the automatic pocket watch superfluous.


The First Automatic Wristwatches

The French watchmaker Léon Leroy was also a pioneer in the development of automatic watches. He presented his first automatic wristwatch in 1922. Some of these watches even had a date display. However, Leroy was far away from being able to mass produce a series.

The British watchmaker John Harwood lead automatic wristwatches to series production. He began working on automatic movements in 1922. Two years later, he patented his work, paving the way for the first series-produced automatic wristwatches.

Rolex's Oyster Perpetual was one of the first automatic wristwatches. Rolex introduced the watch to the market in 1931. It's one of the few early models that has lasted over the years and is still produced today. The principle behind Oyster Perpetual's winding rotor is at the heart of every modern automatic wristwatch.