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What’s the difference between automatic, mechanical, and hand-wound watches?

Mechanical watch movements come in many shapes and sizes, but the two most common are automatic and hand-wound. The type you want really depends on your personal preferences, as each type delivers differently on convenience, accuracy, and interaction. Watch gurus from around the globe outlined the main differences between the watch movements below.

Christen Costa

Christen Costa

Christen Costa, CEO, Gadget Review.

Automatic Watches Have Self-Winding Rotor

Automatic watches are the most commonly sold types of watches because of their convenience. These watches have rotors that don’t require you to manually wind up the watch, so they run consistently without needing anything from the user. People like this because they don’t have to think about winding them up when putting their watch on, and because these watches are always running, they are often the most accurate.

Hand-wound watches do require you to manually wind them up, and their lack of a rotor often makes them much more lightweight than their automatic counterparts. Both automatic and hand-wound watches are technically mechanical because mechanical watches are powered by a spring and require winding to work.

Shane Paarman

Shane Paarman

Shane Paarman is the founder and CEO of

Hand-Wound Movements Need Manual Adjusting

Automatic watches don’t need to be manually wound because they are automatically wound by the movement of your wrist while you wear the watch.

Hand-wound watches, on the other hand, need to be wound either by the wearer or through a self-winding mechanism installed inside.

As for hand-wound watches, they are essentially mechanical watches that specifically have to be hand-wound by the wearer regularly.

Robert Calderon

Robert Calderon

Robert Calderon, Marketing Manager at Dalvey.

All Mechanical Watches Require Winding, Either Manually or Through Motion

Just like cars have engines, watches have movements. Mechanical watches have a hand-wound movement. The watch will move as long as it’s wound, just like a pull-back motion car. You will need to do this regularly to be able to use it. An automatic watch will keep ticking as long as you wear it, because the motion of your arm keeps it wound.

Lisa Dietrich

Lisa Dietrich

Lisa Dietrich, Co-Founder of RemoteCanteen.

Automatic Watches Top Hand-Wound in Accuracy

Automatic watches are powered by the movement of the wearer’s body, while hand-wound watches must be manually wound. Hand-wound watches are powered by a spring that is tightened by winding the watch’s stem. Automatic watches are the most accurate, followed by hand-wound watches.

Both types of watches require periodic maintenance to keep them running properly. Hand-wound and automatic watches should be serviced every 3-5 years.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors’ statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.