When you have a watch that you have to wind daily, you may wonder if you can actually overwind it. This is a natural question that all watch owners have, and the basic answer is that it depends on what type of watch you have. Watches are made better than ever these days, so it’s actually getting more and more difficult to overwind a watch. In fact, you cannot really overwind a watch to the point of breaking it. If you are winding the watch and it stops working, the chances are good that something else is going on inside of the watch.
Can You Break a Watch by Overwinding it?
In theory, it is possible to break a watch by overwinding it. That being said, it is extremely unlikely that this will ever happen. Why? For one thing, an overwound watch is very difficult to find because in most cases, the mainspring is of high quality and will not allow the watch to be overwound in the first place. If the mainspring is in good condition, you will simply not be able to overwind the watch. In fact, if you have a high-quality and fully functional mainspring, it will be able to take a lot more force than you can possibly give it, which is why breaking the watch is all but impossible.
Mechanical watches can’t be overwound in most cases. In fact, for this to happen, you would have to use a tremendous amount of force – more force, in fact, than most people are physically able to achieve. In mechanical watches, there is a mechanism inside of the watch that will build tension and, therefore, let you know exactly when the watch is fully wound and ready to go. Automatic watches can’t be overwound simply because if you use too much force, the mainspring simply disconnects from the winding mechanism.
Can an Overwound Watch Be Repaired?
Since it is virtually impossible to find a watch that has been overwound, there would be nothing to repair. Nevertheless, when a watch stops working because you’ve been winding it, there is almost always something else wrong with it. More often than not, it is the movement that needs some repairs. In many cases, a good cleaning and oiling will get the watch back to its original glory. A good watch repair person can diagnose the problem and make any necessary repairs, which may include anything from a few repairs or replacements to a complete overhaul of the entire watch.
Can Automatic Watches Be Overwound?
Automatic watches have built-in safety mechanisms that prevent them from being overwound. We’ve mentioned that mainsprings in good condition mean you cannot overwind the watch, so if the mainspring in your watch does end up breaking, it was in bad shape and needed to be replaced anyway. If this happens, you can feel good about the fact that the problems had nothing to do with you or anything you did to the watch. In automatic watches, there is a slip clutch that decouples the mainspring from the winding mechanism as soon as the watch feels like it’s being overwound by the owner of the watch.
Sometimes, an automatic watch will stop because it hasn’t been worn enough and there hasn’t been enough wrist movement to keep it going. When this happens, you can always wind it yourself. To do this, wind it roughly 10 times in 360-degree motions, or whatever the manufacturer recommends that you do. An automatic watch can easily be brought back to life with a few good winds!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is it safe to manually wind an automatic watch?
A: If the watch has stopped, you’ll likely have no other choice than to wind it manually, but you shouldn’t do this very often. This is especially important if your watch has a screw-down crown.
Q: How long does it take to fully wind an unwound automatic watch?
A: Normally, it takes around four hours, which means four hours of constant wrist movement once you’ve determined what the winding direction should be.
Q: Is it true that you cannot overwind a Rolex?
A: Yes. Most of the watches made by Rolex today have mechanisms and designs that prevent overwinding from occurring.
Q: How do I know when to stop winding the watch?
A: When winding a watch, make sure you stop once you start to feel some resistance. Also, follow the recommendations set forth by the manufacturer of the watch because they know their watch better than anyone.
Indeed, when a watch stops working after you’ve been winding it, it is nearly always due to another reason besides the winding action. You might even want to leave the watch alone for a while after you’ve wound it to give it a “rest,” so to speak. Treating your watch right, in fact, goes a long way in helping your watch run properly, and this includes knowing when and how long to wind it.