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Patek Philippe Calatrava Vintage 3429J Yellow Dial 3X signed
TOP
Patek Philippe Calatrava Vintage 3429J Yellow Dial 3X signed
R 136,861
Free shipping
Seller
Watch Hunter
 
US
Chopard Happy Sport 36 mm Automatic
TOP
Chopard Happy Sport 36 mm Automatic
R 273,555
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
193
UK
Ulysse Nardin Automatic 18K Gold
TOP
Ulysse Nardin Automatic 18K Gold
R 28,514
Seller
Vintage Watch Services
114
NL
Frederique Constant Ladies Automatic World Heart Federation NEW
TOP
Frederique Constant Ladies Automatic World Heart Federation NEW
R 18,758
Seller
BorysenkoWatch
UA
Omega Seamaster 200 - Pre Bond - Automatik Luxus Chronometer...
Omega Seamaster 200 - Pre Bond - Automatik Luxus Chronometer...
R 22,005
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic
R 109,000
Seller
Topwatch SA Pty Ltd
ZA
Chopard Mille Miglia Automatic Chronograph Ladies Watch
Chopard Mille Miglia Automatic Chronograph Ladies Watch
R 57,662
Seller
Luxurytime South Africa
ZA
Omega Seamaster Automatic Chromo 176.007
Omega Seamaster Automatic Chromo 176.007
R 38,450
Seller
Precision Watches
11
UK
Omega Automatique, en or jaune 14 KT
Omega Automatique, en or jaune 14 KT
R 27,731
Seller
Joaillerie Landauer
6
FR
Patek Philippe VINTAGE  PATEK PHILIPPE1960S 18KT YG REF 3425 AUTO
TOP
Patek Philippe VINTAGE PATEK PHILIPPE1960S 18KT YG REF 3425 AUTO
R 116,714
Free shipping
Seller
Watch Hunter
 
US
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Stainless Steel Silvery White...
TOP
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Stainless Steel Silvery White...
R 60,187
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
Chronoswiss Imperator Automatic
TOP
Chronoswiss Imperator Automatic
R 53,242
Free shipping
Seller
Deluxe ( Asia ) Ltd
9
HK
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 41mm automatic blue 2531.80.00
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 41mm automatic blue 2531.80.00
R 23,653
Seller
Luxury-Time
196
DE
Ciny Automatik klassisch sportliche Herren Taucheruhr v. 1967...
Ciny Automatik klassisch sportliche Herren Taucheruhr v. 1967...
R 8,955
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Panerai LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC TITANIO
Panerai LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC TITANIO
R 99,000
Seller
Topwatch SA Pty Ltd
ZA
Omega Speedmaster Reduced Automatic Chronograph
Omega Speedmaster Reduced Automatic Chronograph
R 24,305
Seller
wagener-gold International e.K.
702
DE
Breitling Colt Automatic
Breitling Colt Automatic
R 19,438
Seller
BraKar LLC
 
US
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic NEW Ref. BGO40C14TTXAUTO
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic NEW Ref. BGO40C14TTXAUTO
R 155,618
Seller
Fabel GmbH
117
DE
Rolex Sea Dweller Stahl 16600 Automatik
Rolex Sea Dweller Stahl 16600 Automatik
R 91,185
Seller
Juwelier Rieger
99
DE
Rolex Datejust 18k Rose Gold And Steel Black Automatic...
TOP
Rolex Datejust 18k Rose Gold And Steel Black Automatic...
R 163,163
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
Longines Master Automatic Chronograph
Auction
Longines Master Automatic Chronograph
R 14,681
Estimated price
Seller
Catawiki BV
 
Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium black Automatic 42mm TOP Rubber
Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium black Automatic 42mm TOP Rubber
R 65,232
Seller
Uhrenkapital
182
DE
Tissot Seastar Seven Visodate Automatik klassische Herrenuhr...
Tissot Seastar Seven Visodate Automatik klassische Herrenuhr...
R 8,955
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Urwerk UR 202 Mens Automatic Watch 202/WG
Urwerk UR 202 Mens Automatic Watch 202/WG
R 1,834,077
Seller
Luxury Bazaar
34
US
Omega Speedmaster Reduced Automatic Chronograph - Sapphire
Omega Speedmaster Reduced Automatic Chronograph - Sapphire
R 35,724
Seller
wagener-gold International e.K.
702
DE
Panerai Luminor Marina Automatic
Panerai Luminor Marina Automatic
R 59,052
Seller
Goodwatchplace,LLC
 
US
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli – Automatic Skeleton
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli – Automatic Skeleton
R 1,019,510
Seller
Fabel GmbH
117
DE
Ingersoll IN6900RWH Grand Canyon IV Automatik 42mm 3ATM
Ingersoll IN6900RWH Grand Canyon IV Automatik 42mm 3ATM
R 4,551
Free shipping
Seller
Timeshop24.de Ltd.
2809
DE
IWC Pilots Stainless Steel Blue Automatic IW327004
TOP
IWC Pilots Stainless Steel Blue Automatic IW327004
R 44,339
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Edelstahl 14790ST Automatik
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Edelstahl 14790ST Automatik
R 146,646
Seller
Juwelier Rieger
99
DE
Vacheron Constantin PATRIMONY TRADITIONELLE AUTOMATIK 18K GOLD...
Vacheron Constantin PATRIMONY TRADITIONELLE AUTOMATIK 18K GOLD...
R 97,710
Free shipping
Seller
Timeless Watches GmbH
92
DE
Omega 14KT GOLD »SEAMASTER AUTOMATIC« EXKLUSIVE HERRENUHR VON...
Omega 14KT GOLD »SEAMASTER AUTOMATIC« EXKLUSIVE HERRENUHR VON...
R 28,530
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Sevenfriday Industrial Engines Automatic Black Dial Black Rubber
Sevenfriday Industrial Engines Automatic Black Dial Black Rubber
R 13,050
Free shipping
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
193
UK
Omega Seamaster Professional 300m Automatic - 41 mm
Omega Seamaster Professional 300m Automatic - 41 mm
R 25,936
Seller
wagener-gold International e.K.
702
DE
Panerai PAM00572  Radiomir 1940 Automatic Black Dial
Panerai PAM00572 Radiomir 1940 Automatic Black Dial
R 93,485
Seller
K&S Watch & Jewellery
12
HK
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Automatic 35mm
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Automatic 35mm
R 122,341
Seller
Bonanno Gioielleria
64
IT
Ingersoll IN1513SBK Bison No.71 Automatik 45mm 10ATM
Ingersoll IN1513SBK Bison No.71 Automatik 45mm 10ATM
R 4,388
Seller
Timeshop24.de Ltd.
2809
DE
Rolex Lady Datejust White Gold And Steel Dark Grey Automatic...
TOP
Rolex Lady Datejust White Gold And Steel Dark Grey Automatic...
R 128,511
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
IWC Portofino Automatic
IWC Portofino Automatic
R 51,579
Seller
Orologeria Bodoni srl
252
IT
Rolex Air King Edelstahl Automatic Saphirglas
Rolex Air King Edelstahl Automatic Saphirglas
R 48,773
Seller
Timeless Watches GmbH
92
DE
Exona Automatik klassische ungetragene Herrenuhr von 1969 -...
Exona Automatik klassische ungetragene Herrenuhr von 1969 -...
R 6,345
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Girard Perregaux Laureato 42mm Steel Automatic
Girard Perregaux Laureato 42mm Steel Automatic
R 138,148
Seller
Plus Watch - Luxury Watches
2140
IT
Tudor Prince Date Automatic - 72034
Tudor Prince Date Automatic - 72034
R 19,411
Seller
wagener-gold International e.K.
702
DE
Rolex Daydate Weissgold 750 Diamanten 18239 Automatik  DayDate
Rolex Daydate Weissgold 750 Diamanten 18239 Automatik DayDate
R 195,583
Seller
Juwelier Rieger
99
DE
Savoy Midway S3 Limited Edition automatic 073/150 ref:...
Auction
Savoy Midway S3 Limited Edition automatic 073/150 ref:...
R 13,050
Estimated price
Seller
Catawiki BV
 
Ingersoll IN1709RBL Kearny Automatik 44mm 5ATM
Ingersoll IN1709RBL Kearny Automatik 44mm 5ATM
R 6,509
Free shipping
Seller
Timeshop24.de Ltd.
2809
DE
Rolex Lady Datejust White Gold And Steel White Automatic...
TOP
Rolex Lady Datejust White Gold And Steel White Automatic...
R 118,824
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
Hublot - Classic Fusion Titanium Automatic - 542.nx.1171.lr
Hublot - Classic Fusion Titanium Automatic - 542.nx.1171.lr
R 79,277
Seller
CONCEPT LUXURY
55
IT
IWC PORTUGIESER PORTUGUESE CHRONO EDELSTAHL HERRENUHR
IWC PORTUGIESER PORTUGUESE CHRONO EDELSTAHL HERRENUHR
R 65,086
Seller
Timeless Watches GmbH
92
DE
Omega Seamaster Automatik antike Herrenuhr von 1951 - Referenz...
Omega Seamaster Automatik antike Herrenuhr von 1951 - Referenz...
R 12,218
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Zenith Stellina Over Size 37mm - Automatic
Zenith Stellina Over Size 37mm - Automatic
R 22,021
Seller
Gold & Co SRL
 
IT
Omega Speedmaster Michael Schumacher Racing Chronograph Automatic
Omega Speedmaster Michael Schumacher Racing Chronograph Automatic
R 29,199
Seller
wagener-gold International e.K.
702
DE
Rolex Air King 116900 Edelstahl 2016 LC100 Automatik AirKing
Rolex Air King 116900 Edelstahl 2016 LC100 Automatik AirKing
R 86,291
Seller
Juwelier Rieger
99
DE
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic Chronometer
TOP
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic Chronometer
R 77,359
Seller
Private seller
 
UK
Longines - Spirit Automatic Chronograph - L2.705.4.53.4 - Men...
Auction
Longines - Spirit Automatic Chronograph - L2.705.4.53.4 - Men...
R 17,128
Estimated price
Seller
Catawiki BV
 
Longines Heritage 18k Rose Gold White Automatic L4.767.8.73.2
TOP
Longines Heritage 18k Rose Gold White Automatic L4.767.8.73.2
R 33,922
Seller
VIP WATCH & JEWELLERY
17
HK
Panerai PAM00682 LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC
Panerai PAM00682 LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC
R 94,375
Seller
K&S Watch & Jewellery
12
HK
Longines Heritage 1954 Chronograph Automatik
Longines Heritage 1954 Chronograph Automatik
R 21,369
Seller
Fabel GmbH
117
DE
Titus Solvil Automatik Herrenuhr 1985 mit Tag und Wochentag -...
Titus Solvil Automatik Herrenuhr 1985 mit Tag und Wochentag -...
R 8,140
Free shipping
Seller
Antique Watches GmbH
41
DE
Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Kepler 18kt Gelbgold Automati...
Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Kepler 18kt Gelbgold Automati...
R 1,107,433
Free shipping
Seller
Juwelier Ralf Häffner
357
DE

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.