How to Prevent Your Automatic Watch from Losing Time

How to Prevent Your Automatic Watch from Losing Time

Maintaining the precision of an automatic watch, be it a Rolex, Breitling, Omega, or Cartier, is paramount as these timepieces are designed to be incredibly accurate. Despite their sophisticated mechanics, factors such as temperature, magnetism, and wear can affect their timekeeping, making it essential for enthusiasts to understand how to prevent your automatic watch from losing time.

This article delves into the common reasons behind the time loss in automatic watches and provides detailed servicing and maintenance tips. Additionally, it explores the significance of watch winding and offers troubleshooting advice for watch owners, ensuring that their precious timepieces continue to function optimally.

Common Reasons Why Automatic Watches Lose Time

Automatic watches, including prestigious brands like Rolex and Omega, can experience timekeeping inaccuracies due to various factors. Understanding these factors can help in maintaining the precision of these mechanical marvels:

  1. Environmental Influences:
    • Temperature: Extreme temperatures can cause the watch’s internal components to expand or contract, affecting its movement.
    • Magnetism: Components like the balance spring can become magnetized, disturbing the regular movement.
    • Shock and Impact: Vigorous activities can jolt the delicate internal mechanism, leading to potential inaccuracies.
  2. Mechanical Factors:
    • Wear and Tear: Over time, internal lubricants degrade, and components wear down, altering accuracy.
    • Positioning: Gravity impacts the movement differently when the watch is in various positions, influencing timekeeping.
  3. Usage Patterns:
    • Winding Necessities: If not worn regularly, the watch may not wind sufficiently, causing it to run slow or stop.
    • Storage Practices: Storing the watch in different positions overnight can help counteract inaccuracies observed during daily wear.

By mitigating these factors, owners can significantly enhance the accuracy and longevity of their automatic watches.

Servicing and Maintenance Tips

Regular Servicing

  • Frequency: Ensure your automatic watch is serviced every 3-5 years by a professional watchmaker. This regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and accuracy of timekeeping.
  • Components Involved: During servicing, the movement is cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted, which helps in maintaining the mechanical integrity of the watch.

Proper Handling and Usage

  • Winding: Wind the watch off your wrist to avoid lateral stress on the stem. Turn the crown clockwise until you feel resistance, then stop to avoid over-winding.
  • Time Adjustment: Set the time in the evening to minimize discrepancies and avoid adjusting the time between 9 PM and 3 AM to prevent damage to the date mechanism.
  • Magnetic Fields: Keep the watch away from strong magnets or electronic devices to prevent magnetization, which can affect its accuracy.

Care and Storage

  • Water Resistance: Regularly check and maintain the water resistance of the watch. Ensure the crown and pushers are tightly closed.
  • Cleaning: Use a soft, lint-free cloth for cleaning. For water-resistant models, a mixture of gentle soap and water can be used sparingly.
  • Storage: Store your watch in a temperature-controlled environment, ideally in a watch box or case, away from magnets and electronics.

The Role of Watch Winding

Winding an automatic watch is essential to maintain its accuracy and extend its lifespan. Here’s how it influences the watch’s timekeeping:

  • Power Reserve Management: Automatic watches generally have a power reserve lasting between 36 to 48 hours. To ensure continuous operation, it’s advisable to wear the watch for at least 10-12 active hours daily. For those who might not wear their watch daily, manually winding it every few days is crucial. This action helps maintain the tension in the mainspring, ensuring consistent power delivery to the movement.
  • Manual Winding Technique: To manually wind your watch, remove it from your wrist to avoid applying lateral stress on the stem. Locate the crown and gently turn it clockwise. Typically, about 20 to 40 turns are sufficient until slight resistance is felt. It’s important to note that unlike manual watches, automatic watches cannot be overwound due to their built-in slipping clutch mechanism.
  • Using a Watch Winder: For automatic watch enthusiasts who do not wear their timepieces daily, employing a watch winder is beneficial. A watch winder simulates the natural motion of the wrist, keeping the watch wound and ready. This device is particularly useful for maintaining watches with complex features like perpetual calendars, which require continuous operation to avoid the need for complicated resetting procedures.

Troubleshooting Tips for Watch Owners

If your automatic watch is consistently losing or gaining time, it may indicate a need for professional inspection. For those experiencing issues with the date change not occurring precisely at midnight, understanding the mechanism is crucial. Watches with a slow date change typically take one to four hours to fully transition, which is normal. Conversely, watches with a rapid change date switch almost instantaneously but may become misaligned over time due to shocks or improper manual adjustments.

Fixing Time Loss in Digital Watches:

  1. Swipe downward on the watch face or press the power button.
  2. Select the Settings icon.
  3. Choose Connectivity, then tap Location.
  4. Set the watch to automatically sync with the time displayed on your smartphone.

Correcting Time Loss in Analog Watches:

  1. Position the watch hands to 5:00, either AM or PM, to clearly see the date window.
  2. Adjust the date to the day before the current date.
  3. After the second hand completes a full rotation, pull out the crown fully.
  4. Advance the time past midnight to update the date.
  5. Set the correct time, ensuring the hour hand passes noon for PM times.

For Rolex owners, the Watch 101 section provides valuable resources, including instructional videos on winding techniques and tips to maintain time accuracy. Remember, a standard mechanical automatic watch may naturally deviate by ±10 seconds per day, while certified chronometers typically maintain an accuracy of -4/+6 seconds per day.


Through the exploration of the intricacies of automatic watches, including environmental, mechanical, and usage factors, alongside detailed servicing and maintenance tips, this article has provided watch enthusiasts with valuable insights to maintain the accuracy and longevity of their timepieces. By understanding the common reasons why automatic watches lose time and implementing the recommended care techniques such as regular servicing, proper handling, and the use of watch winders, owners can significantly enhance their watch’s performance.

Recognizing the role of watch winding and following the troubleshooting advice for common timekeeping issues also play a pivotal role in preserving the intricate mechanics of automatic watches. The discussed strategies not only ensure that these mechanical marvels keep accurate time but also aid in their preservation for generations to come. As we conclude, it’s clear that the sustained precision and durability of automatic watches lie in the hands of their owners, through meticulous care and an informed approach to maintenance.

If you need any assistance on how to prevent your automatic watch from losing time then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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