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What is the power reserve of an automatic watch when it is not being worn?

There is a common misconception that automatic watches never need to be wound. Whilst this is true to a point if the watch has not been worn for a day and like most of our automatic models has a power reserve of 41 hours it would be quite possible that the watch would be close to the end of its power reserve, people often assume it just needs to be worn for a while to wind itself up. This is partially correct because it may well give you just enough power to keep the watch while it’s on the wrist, it may even run for a sometime afterwards when it’s not being worn, the concern is it may not have had the chance to fully wind although it should be okay if you have been very active over a period of a few hours, this doesn’t mean that you have to be doing something particularly energetic like playing tennis or golf just walking around the town or the office would normally be sufficient.

To give you an idea of what to expect as a guide if you wear an automatic watch daily and lead a moderately active lifestyle it should be sufficient to keep the watch fully wound, even if you don’t wear the watch overnight it should still be fine because it would normally build up at least 24 hours reserve during the course of the day.

If the watch hasn’t been worn for more than a day and most of its power reserve has been depleted, for example even if it’s been sitting on a table, once you put it on and go for a walk or even just move around the house and garden it would normally be enough to to get it up to power, if however you decide to put it on in the afternoon and it hasn’t been worn for a day it may not be able to build up enough power reserve to get it through the night. It makes sense in this situation to give it a manual wind to be certain. There is nothing worse than suddenly discovering that the watch has unexpectedly stopped and you’ve missed something which was scheduled at a specific time.

If you lead a very sedentary lifestyle or are elderly sometimes an automatic watch will struggle to build up sufficient reserve, we often find people such as accountants or lawyers who tend to be working on a computer for many hours a day frequently don’t move their wrists enough to fully wind a watch. Many people in desk-bound occupations need to give it a top up occasionally by winding the crown about 30 – 40 times, surprisingly even long haul pilots often struggle because they rarely leave the cockpit and their job does not require them to move their arms a great deal. Generally we would recommend that if a person is not very active or their job requires them to be sitting at a desk all day without walking around and they are also not active in the evening then it may be wise to consider a quartz or hybrid watch.

It has to be said that for most people even if they are not particularly active an automatic watch will be fine because there will be sufficient movement during the course of the day to keep it topped up, in any case it will not take very long once you own an automatic watch to get used to how it generally performs and how long its power reserve tends to last based on your personal activity level. Most buyers of course never discover how long the reserve will actually hold up on their watch because they wear it daily in which case it will usually never stop.

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