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How can I keep my watch running?
July 21, 2006 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Are there any tricks that'll keep my self-winding watch from running down?

I was given an allegedly Soviet (it's certainly Russian, anyway) self-winding watch-- not sure if that's the right terminology, but it winds itself when I move my arm, etc. . I love the way it looks, but the self-winding mechanism seems like a big pain... specifically, if I don't wear it every day, it just dies. I've tried things like shaking it around for a while when I take it off, but that's usually only enough to get it to the next morning; if I wear a different watch the next day, it still runs down.

Is there anything else I could do to keep it on-time without wearing it every day? Is this just a limitation of this type of watch? Are non-Russian/Soviet self-winding watches like this, too, or am I just being screwed by Eastern Bloc technology?
posted by COBRA! to Technology (17 answers total)
 
Set it on top of the dryer when doing laundry?
posted by Espy Gillespie at 8:06 AM on July 21, 2006


I used to wear a self winding watch too. I had the same problem and am interested in a solution. I resorted to wearing it every day, or just dealing with having to set it when I didn't.
posted by tdreyer1 at 8:07 AM on July 21, 2006


You can buy an automatic watch winder. It's a device that basically "shakes" your watch enough to wind it for a predetermined period (30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, etc.) once per hour. Lots of models are available: Some cheap, others expensive.
posted by cribcage at 8:14 AM on July 21, 2006


(And to answer your last question: Yes, all automatic watches — including Rolex, Breitling, etc. — have this problem. Hence the demand for, and supply of, automatic watch winders.)
posted by cribcage at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2006


It's actually the semi-rotation of normal wrist motions that is most effective in driving the self-winder mechanism. So, rather than shake the watch, take 2 minutes or so, with the wristband buckled (if the watch is so equipped), to turn the watch and band over and over, fairly slowly, finger over finger, as if twiddling your thumbs. Having the watch regularly serviced and lubricated will help some, and a good watchmaker may be able to fit a mainspring of greater winding capacity, if you are willing to spend more than what the watch is probably worth on such a project.
posted by paulsc at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2006


They make (overpriced, IMO) machines for this, that basically rock it back and forth. I wonder if one could improvise one with, like, a really heavy drinky-bird.

Are you sure it's self-winding and you can't just wind it on the days you aren't wearing it? I wound mine every night before I went to bed, when I was wearing it regularly.

(I also own a 'Soviet' watch - it's hard to find 24 hr analogs!)
posted by cobaltnine at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2006


Don't take it off for so long, or use a watch winder. How long do you set it down for? I have two watches with automatic movements and I can leave them for around 20hrs and they are still going.
posted by fire&wings at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2006


Watchwinders.com
posted by caddis at 8:30 AM on July 21, 2006


Hook it up to a perpetual motion machine.

Or if you don't want to create a rift in space-time by overthrowing the laws of physics, hang it on a windchime (indoors, of course).
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:08 AM on July 21, 2006


The obvious answer is para para paradise. Arcade versions are hard to come by, but there's totally a home version!
posted by kaytwo at 9:28 AM on July 21, 2006


I have a self-winding TAG but I can also wind it just by twisting the stem like a non-self-winding mechanical watch. I tend not to wear it on the weekends so I usually grab it at some point in the weekend and give it a few twist. Have you tried that?
posted by Carbolic at 9:33 AM on July 21, 2006


How long do you set it down for? I have two watches with automatic movements and I can leave them for around 20hrs and they are still going.

My biggest trouble is if I wear a different watch for a day; 20 hours sounds about right for the longest I can let it sit.

I have a self-winding TAG but I can also wind it just by twisting the stem like a non-self-winding mechanical watch. I tend not to wear it on the weekends so I usually grab it at some point in the weekend and give it a few twist. Have you tried that?

Yeah, tried that, no good... Oh, well.

Thanks for all the info so far. At the very least, it makes me feel better that it's just the way the watch is.
posted by COBRA! at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2006


I once had 2 seiko perpetuals, I found that on a day that you don't wear it, if you carry it in your front pocket, it keeps up with the time.
posted by Megafly at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2006


FWIW, I have a watch winder for my Rolex, but it loses time pretty quickly. I've stopped using the thing and just wear the watch daily now.
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:45 AM on July 21, 2006


Store your watch in your car, which you probably use daily
(I could be wrong on this).
Tape your watch to your toothbrush, which you probably use
daily (I could be wrong on this).
Store your watch on the most frequently used doorknob in
your house or apartment, as you probably use it daily.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:56 PM on July 21, 2006


Most automatic movements require daily wear to keep wound, so your watch isn't unusual. I've never seen a mechanical watch that couldn't be wound by twisting the stem. If you don't wear it for one full day you need to wind it a bit by hand. Or else buy an expensive watch winder (many hundred dollars), but for a funky Poljot that will seem like overkill.

Part of the joy of a mechanical watch is the fussy inconvenience of it at times. They're expensive, keep poorer time than a cheap electrical watch, require winding, and make noise. I love 'em.
posted by Nelson at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2006


I have an older self winding watch. I've found that if I hold it between thumb and forefinger and flick it to the side at just the right angle, the winder inside spins vigorously. A few of those keeps it going for quite a while. Doesn't seem to have hurt it, either.
posted by tomble at 7:28 AM on July 22, 2006


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