How Long Does an Automatic Watch Last?

As with many mechanical objects, an automatic watch can last a lifetime if maintained and cared for correctly.

How Automatic Watches Work

Unlike battery powered watches, an automatic watch is powered by the wearer. A rotor within the mechanism oscillates with the wrists movements. This in turn charges the mainspring within the movement. A series of gears allows the spring to discharge its energy ultimately turning the hands of the watch. This is a crude explanation, however, accurate. Should you like to learn a little more about the operation of an automatic watch, then click here.

Factors Affecting an Automatic Watch's Lifespan

The lifespan of an automatic watch could be impacted by many aspects.

Firstly, you could look at where the movement has been manufactured. Switzerland has the reputation for producing the finest timepieces and movements in the world. This might be followed closely by Germany or Japan. The UK has had a long tradition of watchmaking and is currently bolstering itself in the watchmaking circles. There are many fake or mass produced imitations from China. Flooding the market with inferior components and manufacturing techniques which will directly affect the lifespan of an automatic watch.

Secondly, care and maintenance is paramount with extending the life of your watch. Servicing is key to keeping your watch running smoothly.

The environment can also impact on the lifespan. Extreme temperatures, either hot or cold can cause issues as one would expect. It is worth mentioning that brands now produce specialist watches to cope with extreme conditions and we cover this in another article here.

How To Maximise the Lifespan of Your Watch

Minerva Automatic Movement
Minerva Automatic Movement

There is absolutely no reason why an automatic watch shouldn't outlast any human.

Simple care while wearing will prolong it's lifespan. Likewise, servicing at the recommended intervals is critical to keep the movement lubricated and any worn parts replaced.

You should also keep the exterior case and bracelet clean and free of debris. This will prevent wear in between the links of the bracelet, thus negating the need for a replacement.

Signs Your Automatic Watch Needs Attention

There are a few tell tale signs that your automatic watch requires attention.

  • Probably the most common sign is that the watch simply gains or loses time despite being fully wound.
  • You may notice that the hands appear slightly out of line compared to previous.
  • The date function may have stopped working.
  • You may notice a subtle grating sound emanating from the rotor inside.

All these indicators point to the automatic watch requiring immediate attention by a trained watchmaker. We would recommend taking it to the store that you bought it from or a reputable high street jeweler.

How Long Can an Automatic Watch Last Without Service?

All automatic watches are different. All brands are different. With this in mind, all service intervals are likely to be different. Generally, watch manufacturers have recommended service intervals of between 5 and 10 years. However, there are always cases that will fall outside of this generalisation.

Some people report of never having their watch serviced. Servicing can often be eye prohibitively expensive, so some prefer to wait until an issue arises before sending for service. It is worth consulting the manual that will have been issued at purchase to determine what you automatic watch requires.

Automatic Watch Service
Automatic Watch Service

Can an Automatic Watch Last a Lifetime?

Simply put, yes and often do. Many people choose to look after their watches, so that they can be handed down to family members.

The guide would be simple; regularly clean, maintain, service and above all, wear the watch! Perhaps avoid extreme sports while wearing!


Quite a difficult answer, but among the most common reasons for a watch to stop working would be:

  • Impact damage, perhaps due to a fall or simply dropping the watch.
  • Lubricant drying out. Regular servicing intervals will prevent this.
  • Clumsy resetting of the watch. Pulling out the winding crown too hard/far can result in damage and the watch stopping.

In theory yes, but in reality - probably not. An automatic watch movement is comprised of many tiny and intricate gears, switches and springs. Normally but not always metal. Metal on metal, no matter how light, will ultimately wear. However this would take many, many years, and a simple service plan would remove the chance.

As mentioned above, automatic watches can lose accuracy due to a number of reasons.

The most common might be that it hasn't had sufficient wrist time to generate a 'full wind'. If the watch has been off the wrist for a while then we would recommend a full manual wind. If this is a regular scenario then we would urge the owner to invest in a watch winder to keep it wound when not in use. This is a great option for people with more than one automatic watch.

Again, as above, an automatic watch requires regular servicing, this should be enough to eliminate the chance of it becoming inaccurate over time.

Absolutely yes! And at 1010 Boutique we 100% recommend that owners of automatic watches do exactly that. Wear the watch and enjoy it.

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