New watch - stops working often
February 3, 2022 5:14 AM   Subscribe

I recently got a new analog watch. It keeps stopping, as in it will be running fine then cease ticking. When I reset the time, it will resume ticking. This is maddening. I can't tell if this watch is defective, or if there is some nuance in how I am using the knob that adjusts the time, that isn't correct. The watch is 'self winding', described as powered by a Seiko NH35. Due I need to wind this and reset the time every morning?

The 'knob' or Crown (?) that pulls out to change time, is described in the very brief instructions that came with the watch as having 3 positions. 1. unscrewed (I cannot figure out how to screw it back in, it's as if it is always in this setting). 2. partially pulled out to change the date ( I don't care about this feature). 3. fully pulled out to adjust the time (I know how to do this, this works). The watch is a Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver watch.
posted by walkinginsunshine to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some years ago I knew a guy with a self winding watch who would make a small spectacle a few times a day to get the thing to self-wind. He worked a sedentary desk job, as many of us do, moving his hands and arms almost none using a computer all day. That's just not enough arm motion to trigger the self winding mechanism. So a few times a day he'd pump his fist in a cheering, whoop whoop whoop kind of motion like you might do if you're trying to cheat a Fitbit. He'd do this making calls, at the dinner table, whenever, hardly even noticing.

Long story short your lifestyle alone may not be enough to self wind the thing.
posted by phunniemee at 5:22 AM on February 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

Could you be accidentally half-pulling-out the crown? That would stop the movement; then when you pull it all the way out to adjust the time, and push it all the way back in, the movement restarts, and all is well until you catch it again.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:33 AM on February 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

What phunniemee said--the NH35 is generally a reliable movement, though almost anything manufactured will have an occasional defective one get through.

Back when I wore automatic watches, I found that a sort of repeated wrist-twisting motion (think opening a doorknob) was a good way to wind them up.

Alternately, watch winders exist, if you're planning on becoming a watch collector (which I wouldn't recommend unless you're both wealthy and, like, an oligarch, supervillain, high-class gigolo, something along those lines).
posted by box at 5:35 AM on February 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Seiko NH35 caliber has a claimed power reserve of 41 hours, so even if your wrist didn't move at all or you didn't wear the watch one day, it shouldn't require manual winding every single morning.
posted by Klipspringer at 5:36 AM on February 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

... actually, sorry, having gone away and looked up NH35, I'm wrong; pulling it out to just the date-setting position wouldn't stop the second hand, it's only the full time-setting position that does that.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:37 AM on February 3, 2022

Unless you are extremely sedentary, and you wear it from morning to night every day, your Seiko should keep itself wound and it should keep running all the time without you thinking about it.

Seiko's automatic winding system, the "magic lever", works so well they made watches for decades that couldn't be manually wound at all, and they are utterly reliable.

Mechanical watches do need to be disassembled, cleaned and oiled and checked over by an expert every decade or so. It's possible your watch needs this. It could be dirty and dry, or it could have been damaged, like by a bad drop onto a hard surface.
posted by fritley at 5:38 AM on February 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Second that you have to move them enough. Then you get into quality and how exactly precise it was meant to be and how well it was built.

How far off is your watch when you need to reset it. Even self winding need that, non-self winding need to be wound up every night, and they'll both probably be a bit off after a while and need an adjustment every once in a while.

You move to wind it, or your wind it yourself. That's why we ended up digital and using a battery.
Also... "unscrewed (I cannot figure out how to screw it back in, it's as if it is always in this setting"... not if you keep unscrewing hard enough, it will come out and you'll have a different set of questions. Don't force things.

Be cautious about the out vs full-out thing, it's like gears on your transmission. Make sure you're in the normal operations position.

Do you want to know how self winding actually works?

Finally, you probably do have to reset you're watch every once in a while to your cell phone or something.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:47 AM on February 3, 2022

A screw down crown (which is for water tightness) is closed by pressing it inward while turning it clockwise. After about one turn it should tighten and seal. To open it for manual winding or time setting, you turn it counter clockwise about a turn and it should pop out and be free to use.
posted by fritley at 5:59 AM on February 3, 2022

Generally self-winding movements shouldn't be manually wound regularly. The winding stem isn't as robust as on an actual hand wound watch.

I've managed to be sufficiently sedentary to not wind an ETA 2836, but I've never let a Seiko die. I've had several of Seiko and Orient's non-hand winding cheaper autos and my go-to trick for topping up the power reserve is putting it in my front pocket and going for a walk around the block. The jiggle appears to do a better job winding the watch than doing the same thing with it on my wrist.

That movement should have a ~40 hour power reserve but that's at full wind. If you're starting from zero every morning it's not getting there. That could be from lack of movement or it could be from dust or damage to the mainspring.

I'd recommend trying the winding it in your pocket trick and/or buying a winder and leaving it on that at night. To be honest you're going to be gobsmacked by the price of servicing that watch if you have to take it to a watchmaker. It will be a significant fraction of the total price of the watch if not more. Most people don't maintain a $300 watch. They just wear it until they get bored with it, it breaks, or it stops keeping time acceptably. I had to think really hard before spending $500 to get an $800 watch serviced last year and only did it because I had an irrational emotional attachment to it since it was my first and so far only "nice" watch.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 6:51 AM on February 3, 2022

Best answer: If you're leaving the watch in "set time" mode, that's probably why. My Seiko 5 always winds down quickly when I accidentally do that. It should be pushed in all the way.

nth that you might just not be moving around enough to keep it wound. When the pandemic hit I replaced the Seiko with a digital watch for this reason.
posted by neckro23 at 7:11 AM on February 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

There are watch winders you can get off Amazon, that basically wave the watch around for you for hours on end.
posted by kschang at 8:08 AM on February 3, 2022

Could one of the hands be bent? I had the same problem with one of my watches. Mine was battery operated and It would just stop working. The battery was fine, I had no idea what was causing it to stop. A friend of mine looked at it one day and he pointed out that the minute hand was slightly bent and would catch on the hour hand causing it to stop. Watch lady at Target fixed it.
posted by james33 at 8:34 AM on February 3, 2022

Best answer: I got this exact same watch just yesterday!

I like it a lot, but I found the screw-down crown a little fussy. It doesn’t always catch on the threads perfectly so you might have to try pushing and turning it a few times to get it down.

For a watch you just got, I would go ahead and wind it manually. Push the crown in all the way without screwing it down. Then turn it clockwise without pushing down on it. You should feel a ratcheting or clicking; that’s the winding mechanism. Give it three good turns and screw it in. If you’re wearing it, it should easily last through the day and overnight.

I’ve never found that I’ve had to do any artificial or additional movements to keep an automatic watch wound. I walk about 2-5 miles/day per my Fitbit.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:37 AM on February 3, 2022

I would try this:
  1. Put the crown in position 1 (unscrewed, but not pulled out)
  2. Turn the crown 30 times. This will ensure the watch is fully wound.
  3. Wear the watch all day.
After fully winding it, try wear it for at least 8 hours a day, every day—it should never stop.

If you're wearing it daily and it's stopping during the day or overnight, it's defective.
posted by vitout at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2022

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