Have you ever marvelled why your automatic watch abruptly stopped working? Maybe it worries you to see your timepiece stopped ticking. This lingers in your mind when you finally took the rush and bought that automatic designer watch some months back.

You vividly recall having your eyes on that watch for months, and here you wake up one morning to see it has stopped working. Unfortunately, you panic and start tapping on the dial, turning knobs, wondering what might be the mistake. When you purchased the watch, the seller promised you it would last for an extended period.

What safe action can you do now? Like any other mechanical-operated machine, watches can be exposed to performance problems and stop functioning without warning. This kind of scenario is manageable to watch repairers. Therefore, it is vital to understand why this happens and what the causes.

This article will clarify the possible reasons why your automatic watch stopped operating.

Automatic watches are a marvel of engineering, combining sophisticated mechanics with timeless elegance. However, despite their intricate design, these watches are not immune to malfunctions. There are a number of reasons why an automatic watch can stop working, which can be frustrating for the owner.

One common reason why an automatic watch can stop working is due to a loose screw. This can cause the watch’s inner mechanism to become hindered, causing the entire motion to halt. Another reason why an automatic watch can stop working is due to a lack of power reserve. Even though a person may be wearing the watch regularly, it may not have enough power reserve to keep it running.

Other causes of automatic watch malfunctions include debris blocking mechanisms from functioning, parts becoming damaged or stuck because oils have dried up, and components becoming damaged. If you’re a watch enthusiast, it’s important to be aware of these potential issues so you can take steps to prevent them from happening to your beloved timepiece.

The Basics of Automatic Watches

Automatic watches, also known as self-winding watches, are a popular choice among watch enthusiasts for their unique features and classic design. These watches are powered by the movement of the wearer’s wrist, which means they do not require a battery to function. In this section, we will discuss how automatic watches work and the importance of movement in these timepieces.

How Automatic Watches Work

Automatic watches have a rotor, which is a weight that rotates freely on the watch’s movement. When the wearer moves their wrist, the rotor spins, which in turn winds the mainspring. The mainspring is the power source of the watch, and it stores energy that is released gradually to power the watch’s movement.

Automatic watches also have a mechanism that regulates the release of energy from the mainspring to the watch’s movement. This mechanism is called the escapement, and it ensures that the watch keeps accurate time. The escapement releases energy from the mainspring in small, precise increments, which causes the watch’s hands to move at a consistent rate.

The Importance of Movement

The movement is the heart of an automatic watch, and it determines the watch’s accuracy and reliability. A high-quality movement is essential for a watch to keep accurate time and function properly. Automatic watches can have different types of movements, such as Swiss or Japanese movements, and each has its own unique characteristics and features.

One of the benefits of an automatic watch is that it can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. However, if a watch is not worn regularly, it can stop working. This is because the mainspring loses its tension when the watch is not in use, and the watch’s movement does not receive enough energy to function. To ensure that an automatic watch stays in good working condition, it should be worn regularly or placed in a watch winder to keep the mainspring wound.

Overall, automatic watches are a timeless and elegant choice for watch enthusiasts. Their unique features and classic design make them a popular choice among collectors and casual wearers alike. By understanding how automatic watches work and the importance of movement, wearers can appreciate the craftsmanship and precision that goes into making these timepieces.

Loose Screw

Having your watch loose a screw is one likely reason why your watch stopped running. The flexible screw is possibly hindering the clock’s inner mechanism and causes the whole motion to halt. Though it may astonish, this is a pretty common issue, as even regular hand movement can cause screws to get loose.

This is common if you regularly engage in golf or mountain biking activities, which can also gradually loosen screws within the watch. To fix this problem, take a few steps: first, you need to remove the screw from the mechanism before restoring and tightened.

If you feel you cannot do this by yourself, seek assistance from an authorized person to check and repair your timepiece.

Dirt and Dust Have Built-Up


When a timepiece is not checked for a prolonged time, dirt and dust may affect the internal components. The individual parts need to be detached, washed, and lubricated by a professional repairman.

In doing so, you can avoid dust build-up, which can ultimately destroy the rotor of the watch. Additionally, maintenance check-up needs to be constantly carried out to prevent this problem.

Fixing this issue can cost you exceedingly depending on the type and brand of the clock. Basically, the more complicated the mechanism, the more you are required to spend on repairing it.

When you solve this, your watch should start working.

Broken Mainspring

The source of energy in an automatic watch comes from the mainspring. It acts like a motor that supplies the exact quantity of energy inside the wheel train, letting the mechanism operate correctly.

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Lack of sufficient power, the tool will not meet its anticipations. The result will be experienced clearly in many ways. Immediate great indication, the timepiece will not function at all. This will result from which, and not often when both barrel and arbor hook does not catch.

Consequently, the barrel hook and barrel arbor are sliding preceding towards the ends of spring while winding. The mainspring condition is tremendously significant. When the spring loses its capability to provide complete energy for its initially intended period. Therefore, it should permanently be changed.

It is always advisable to change the mainspring, especially when washing a timepiece, since they’re cheap and straightforward to change.

Alternatively, it is imperative to clean thoroughly and oil well with excellent mainspring grease if the spring looks excellent and worthy.

During repair, you should always make sure that each of the subsequent wheels remains together. Having thick grease will inhibit the main spring from working quickly.

The Automatic Winding Mechanism Is Faulty

A faulty winding mechanism can be triggered by several issues. For instance, the rotor axis may be ruined due to forceful impact. It’s always vital not to overwind it to avoid destroying the rotor. Excessive wear can damage the automatic watches, such as overwinding.

Wearing a watch daily will interfere with your natural movement, so it doesn’t require winding. You can benefit from winding the watch once a week to fully top off.

Another major challenge for putting excessive wear to the mechanism is watching winders. When you opt to have a watch winder, you must need a high-quality one with adjustable turns per day.

When the watch winder rotates all day long, the slip-clutch will be damaged and slide away before it is supposed to. This will end up with a small power reserve.

Older watches can be problematic to restore since the winding mechanism can be challenging to source. Similarly, it might end up being expensive, depending on your watch brand.

Physical Damage

Physical damage is one of the common reasons why your watch stopped running. If you have fallen the watch many times than you can remember, something inside might develop looseness. Automatic watches are an art of work, and they’re long-lasting; hence they are essentially like any other machine.

Any machine can be damaged when not properly handled. Typical damage to an automatic watch is repairable. However, if the destruction is unnoticed, such an issue as watch falling can damage beyond repair.

This will further damage the rotor and might cause permanent failure to the timepiece.

FAQs Of Automatic Watches

How Accurate Is An Automatic Watch?

Highly-quality automatic watch is relatively accurate. Automatic watch varieties can gain or lose as many as two seconds a day and one second a week.

Each timepiece is different; you will quickly get to know the accuracy of your watch.

What Is A Power Reserve?

The primary source of energy in an automatic timepiece comes from stored power found in the mainspring. Therefore, the quantity of time by which the spring can hold power to keep watch running is known as a power reserve.

The estimated power reserve is generally 41 hours.

Are Automatic Watches Expensive?

They can be expensive depending on the brands.

Luxury brands offer a wide range of automatic watches intended to maintain their value and be interesting.

Can Automatic Watch Be Overwound?

Absolutely. Overwinding can permanently destroy the watch’s winding gears.

It’s advisable to follow 30-40 turns only.

How Do You Wind An Automatic Watch?

There are two mutual ways to do so. First is by wearing it always to retain its stored power from time to time.

Second, you can wind by crowning by positioning it first at 0 and gradually turn the crown at position 30 clockwise.

In Conclusion

Just like any other mechanical object or tool, automatic watches can stop working too. These are minor issues, but they can be relatively significant if you are not attentive to them. Depending on the agency, the steps to restore them will vary.

Some of the problems can be fatal that need a full check-up service, while some minor issues you can quickly rectify. This should never scare you or make you worry. It is a normal thing for timepieces to get some common fixable problem.

Above, you’ve seen some common issues that can make your automatic watch stop functioning. And all of the problems can be fixed when handled by a professional. It is sensible to be careful when handling your watch to avoid damages.

Once in a while, take it to your repair shop for dusting.

By Rose Spencer

Rose is an experienced writer and a watch seller, making use of pop-up shops space. She got into watches thanks to her granddad, who introduced her to the wonderful world of watches. Two of them still collect watches together, and Rose is always on the lookout for rare watches (and colorful) varieties.

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