How much winding to get an auto working well?

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richtel
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How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by richtel »

So in a few idle minutes this afternoon, I noticed that a watch I had been wearing frequently this week up until a day and a half ago had started to run quite slowly.

We know that watches can never be perfectly isochronous- that rate changes happen as mainspring power decreases but I want to to understand just how much that effect can affect the rate and magnitude.

So, the watch (a new C60 with SW200 movement) was still running, but slowly, and probably had less than 5 hours life left in it. With the watch on the timegrapher I checked performance with 0 up to 25 turns of the crown, turning five times and replacing onto the timegrapher. Here's what I found out-

From the graphs you can see how rate and amplitude changed according to the number of turns.
rate per turn.jpg
So, fifteen turns were needed to get the watch operating as well as it can and more turns did not further improve the rate or magnitude. Since the watch was already running, that might equate to twenty turns or so from stopped since it usually takes about five turns to get the watch ticking from standstill. As might be expected, beat error was not affected by the mainspring power.

I found the fact that you need so many turns to get the watch running sweetly quite surprising- it implies that just turning the crown until the watch is running or just wearing from standstill and setting the time when the watch is running could have the watch running pretty poorly for many hours until autowinding has sufficiently wound the mainspring. It also goes to show that it's really important that the watch is wound well before before checking the rate and that the watch will perform best when won regularly.

It'll be interesting to see if a different movement design exhibits a similar response.
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Commisar »

15-20 turns

Anything over 20 is overkill IMHO

Oris (exact same movement) actually only says to wind in 12 turns to get it going

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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Wiggles »

I agree with Commisar, no more than about twelve hours worth. I once ruined an automatic movement by attempting to wind it to the maximum power reserve
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Commisar »

Wiggles wrote:I agree with Commisar, no more than about twelve hours worth. I once ruined an automatic movement by attempting to wind it to the maximum power reserve
Oh man that's awful

What happened, did a clutch not disengage?

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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by H0rati0 »

Thanks for that, good to see the underlying measurements/data.
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by TigerChris »

I don’t think anyone will ever agree on a hard and fast rule as to how much to wind an auto. Some say not to and just give it a few shakes (the Seiko shake!), some say 10 to 15, some say wind it fully. I always wind mine to full when I put it on from it being stopped as, in my own experience, the autos I’ve always had have performed the best, most accurate, when fully wound.
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by richtel »

Up next is a C60 Limited Edition Chronometer- still a 2824/SW200 movement but COSC grade.

For parity with the earlier test, this watch was wound just until it started to beat, then proceeded with 5 turns at a time.
rate per turn_ LE.jpg
(note that the vertical scale is different)

From this we can see that it similarly takes 12 to 15 turns to get into a happy place, but up until that point, the rate was not as far out as the regular SW200. The Chronometer (and TOP) grade ETA is reckoned to have a different mainspring to the standard and elabore grades so that might have made a difference. What is striking though is that the low-wind performance is positive SPD, rather than wildly negative we saw earlier.
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by H0rati0 »

Generally speaking, as a mainspring loses power the watch should speed up as the amplitude diminishes, but not always the case though I don't know why. Perhaps Kip can explain?
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by richtel »

Last up is my Tudor North Flag. This is a chronometer grade Tudor in-house movement. As before, it was wound until it just started to beat, and then timegrapher readings taken after 5 turns of the crown at a time.

NF.jpg
So, what we can read into these graphs (albeit from a sample of one experiment which is hardly scientific) is that from the moment the watch starts beating, its rate is within COSC specifications (caveats of one position, face-up, and no other variables examined). Further winding tidies up the performance but it appears to be performing optimally by the fifth turn of the crown and amplitude continues to increase with winding up until some 50% of the power reserve.

So, my observations (with huge degrees of generalising). Much of which seem to be statements of the blindingly obvious, but it's nice to see it reflected in real testing-

- A watch can be wildly out of specification until it has been wound significantly.
- The nature of the performance at low wind may vary hugely according to the grade of the movement.
-The rate at low power may be different (positive or negative) depending on the movement grade.
- Chronometer grade movements may well behave better when low on power than other grades.
- It could be that high-spec chronometers from premium brands peform better at low power than other chronometers.

An interesting experiement for zero outlay anyway!
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Bident »

The Tudor has a 70 hour power reserve versus the Sellita's 38hrs in the SW-200. I wonder if that has any impact on the results?

Very interesting reading, thanks for sharing!
Best regards,
John
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richtel
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by richtel »

Bident wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:33 pm
The Tudor has a 70 hour power reserve versus the Sellita's 38hrs in the SW-200. I wonder if that has any impact on the results?

Very interesting reading, thanks for sharing!
Hi John. You're right, the in-house has a 70 hour reserve. One line of logic suggests that since the mainspring has got to provide power for almost twice the time as the ETA/Selita then you might expect the watch to not be happy until wound to the same proportion of full reserve. That appears not to be the case since it seems to be good after just five turns. The Tudor would appear to have some more magic hiding within... as you might hope at five times the cost!
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »

Fascinating experiment Rich. Thank you for going to the trouble of doing it.

Your conclusions are sound and make sense. :thumbup: :thumbup:

However, neither they nor the experiment, will make me alter my routine of putting a stopped watch straight on my wrist and setting the date/time once it is running (usually after 20 minutes wear).

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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by MiniMpi »

Great experiment Rich !
Very informative.

I used to wind my watches fully before but I believe from chatting to Guy about it I do his method occasionally, generally for work watches as I don't have time to set them before getting to work and set them there as they have built up a reserve.

When I'm off I generally get it going by the rotor and wind it about 20 winds and set it.

One thing I found very helpful is having my first power reserve complication, in that you can see what how winds actually does to the reserve and 15 to 20 winds generally gives you half the reserve of the watch which is great.
Ferg

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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Very interesting and informative, Rich.

I used to be very against automatics, but although I am now comfortable with them and they are well integrated into my collection, I still prefer manual wind watches. As long as you remember to wind the thing, it eliminates all that uncertainty.

I find that automatics work best for me if I’m going to be wearing the same watch over a considerable period of time such as a holiday. They are more of a nuisance if you wear them as part of a rotation and you only have one winder :D
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The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours.
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Re: How much winding to get an auto working well?

Post by downer »

Very interesting - and it probably confirms my ‘belief’ that my watches are all more accurate when I use the watch winders.

I’ve been comparing the performance of fully wound watches (fresh from the winder) with those that I’ve wound just enough to get started.
Richard
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