Automatic Watch Accuracy (Watches 101)

Automatic Watch Accuracy

If you’re accustomed to the various kinds of watch actions, then you understand what an computerized watch is.

Essentially, an computerized watch is a mechanical watch with a self-winding element, powered by the motion of the wrist of the wearer. A mechanical watch, however, requires handbook winding of the crown, most frequently, every single day on the identical time, to make sure accuracy and precision.

Before we get into the accuracy of an computerized watch, let’s have a look at its origin and features. Watch engineers developed the thought of a self-winding mechanism in a mechanical watch to counter the problem of manually winding the watch every single day. Designed initially within the 1900s, the automated motion features by drawing the vitality of the wrist motion. Then, the rotor current within the motion converts and shops the vitality to construct stress within the “coronary heart” of the watch. Which then converts it to energy to allow the motion of the arms.

However, it’s obvious that with out common wrist motion, the doesn’t retain the facility to operate easily. You can verify how a lot energy your watch holds by monitoring the facility reserve indicator, usually displayed on the face of the dial. Given this reality, many could surprise how correct the watch may be. Would it go quick if the motion is simply too quick? What occurs if there is no such thing as a motion for a very long time? How does lack of motion have an effect on accuracy, and so forth?

In this regard, we purpose to interrupt down how correct an computerized watch is and a few issues to remember if you’re wanting into investing in a single, or already personal one.

What’s Acceptable Accuracy For an Automatic Watch?

The Rolex caliber 3175 was released in 1988 up until 1999 and used in the GMT-Master 16700
Image Credit: Unknown creator through Creative Commons

Automatic watches are fairly correct. To the extent, they both achieve or lose solely 25 seconds per day. On an even bigger image, studies point out that a regular computerized watch is usually 99% correct. Typically, manufacturers present the small print of the motion, its precision, and accuracy together with the watch description. This will inform you of how correct your watch is.

Most usually, watch fanatics who depend on excessive accuracy and precision search for near 4-5 seconds variations, and even lesser, in a day. This comes with chronometer actions. Therefore, what is suitable to you is dependent upon your wants and the features of the watch. If you’re a diver or a pilot, as an illustration, you want your watch to be as correct as potential with as little deviation in seconds. However, if you’d like a watch for normal every day put on, then a ten or 20-second variation in a day will make no distinction.

What Are COSC-Certified Chronometers?

Chronometers are elements of mechanical and computerized watches, positioned to extend effectivity and accuracy of the motion. To make sure the legitimacy of its operate, a Switzerland-based NGO referred to as the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres or COSC gives official certification when watches move their testing for accuracy.

It is a rule that solely watches with COSC certification can formally use the tag ‘licensed chronometer’ as a part of the watch description. If your watch comes with a COSC certification, you’ll be able to blindly imagine that the watch is as exact as it may be. Watches that undergo the COSC testing bear numerous rounds of rigorous testing beneath completely different situations. Generally, it’s a 16-days lengthy testing interval the place the motion undergoes completely different temperature settings at completely different positions.

You might also discover that watches with COSC certification don’t come low cost. These actions take extremely expert craftsmen to design, develop and hand-assemble earlier than qualifying for the COSC testing.  This course of is cost-heavy together with the price of testing, which warrants the excessive value of those computerized watches.

Automatic vs Quartz Accuracy

Seiko SBDX001 Marinemaster Automatic Professional Diver's 300 m
Image Credit: Francis Flinch through Creative Commons

Automatic watches have double or extra shifting components than quartz watches. The vitality drawn from the motion of the wrist by oscillating weights transmits to the gears to energy the watch to operate. The stability wheel and the oscillating weights work to maintain a stability throughout the motion and work in tandem to make sure easy timekeeping. Naturally, because of this many small elements are available contact with one another, continually, a number of occasions in a day. This fixed contact between these components generates friction, which is the primary motive for the small variation within the accuracy of the watch.

Quartz watch ubt EXP 123
Image Credit: © 2010 by Tomasz Sienicki through Creative Commons

On the opposite hand, quartz watches have the next diploma of accuracy than computerized watches. That is, it may well lose or achieve solely as much as one second a day. When in comparison with an computerized watch, you could surprise if the quartz is a greater choice for accuracy. This is as a result of quartz watches have fewer shifting components, and this implies lesser friction, and lesser friction between the elements means lesser lack of time. Additionally, quartz motion makes use of a quartz crystal to maintain the timekeeping features alive. These crystals give out fixed vibrations to generate electrical prices to maintain the watch powered.

For these causes primarily, even the most cost effective of quartz watches have higher accuracy and lose solely up to a couple seconds even after months and years of use. Moreover, in contrast to computerized watches, a quartz motion doesn’t depend upon an exterior issue to wind the watch. A powered battery throughout the watch does all of the work. As a end result, there are lesser components to tune in every single day, and therefore, larger accuracy.

At the top of the day, there are execs and cons to each computerized and quartz watches. Check out our article to know extra!

How To Measure Your Automatic Watch Accuracy

Before we perceive how one can measure the accuracy of your watch, it’s noteworthy to do not forget that accuracy and precision have completely different meanings in watchmaking. Accuracy refers back to the deviation from a sure level of reference. This is the place a deviation of some seconds denotes the accuracy (or, lack thereof) of the watch. Precision, however, is the typical variation over time.

To clarify additional, a watch could lose 2 seconds every single day, however by constantly doing so, the watch maintains precision. However, the 2-second loss, by itself, talks to the accuracy of the watch. In different phrases, consistency is precision, and no deviation of time is accuracy. There are three easy methods to measure the accuracy of your computerized watch.

App in your smartphone

One manner is to make use of your smartphone. Most OS nowadays include an accuracy app within the App retailer. The app calculates the accuracy price by coming into the small print of the watch, which then lets you understand the potential variation. With this methodology, you’ll need to trace your app with inputs each day for checking its accuracy. And, then set the variation proper in your watch, manually.


The second manner is to make use of a timergraph. This gadget is widespread with watchmakers to verify the accuracy of the watch. The benefit of utilizing a timergraph is that it shows the end result instantly. By putting it on the gadget, the timergraph is ready to show the accuracy and beats of the timepiece. You can simply discover this on-line if you’re prepared to go the additional mile, or you’ll be able to verify together with your native watchmaker.

Stopwatch comparability

The third best approach to verify for the accuracy of your watch is to make use of a stopwatch. For this methodology, begin your stopwatch proper when the seconds’ hand in your watch reaches 12. The minute and hour arms are irrelevant for this methodology. Leave it on for a few hours, and slowly your watch could both pull forward or pull again a couple of seconds over the few hours. This will let you know the way many seconds your watch loses or beneficial properties in a day.

Alternatively, there are additionally many suggestions on-line on how one can verify for accuracy at house. At the top of the day, no matter works finest for you, does the job properly.

What Causes Automatic Watches to Lose accuracy?

The accuracy of a watch is dependent upon many components. While it’s true that watches can lose a while over lengthy intervals, the components inflicting the slight variation in time are many.


As famous above, friction is the most typical issue for watches to lose time. Mechanical watches, be it handbook or computerized, have a number of shifting components. These components are continually rotating, spinning, or rubbing in opposition to one another. Over time, this causes friction, which in the end causes the lack of a while. Laws of physics will not be one thing watchmakers can work round!


In some instances, your watch can achieve 10 to twenty seconds every single day constantly. This is a results of the coils sticking nearer to one another, shortening the rotations and rising the heartbeats. If that is taking place to your computerized watch, then a magnetic impact is inflicting this to occur. The solely treatment is to right it from a restore store. This just isn’t one thing anybody can right from their properties.


In some instances, temperature impacts the stability wheel and hairspring, inflicting them to both shrink or develop. Due to this, change, a couple of seconds variation is unavoidable. Although, this isn’t a typical subject in fashionable occasions, provided that new expertise and new elements are changing age-old components. For occasion, many manufacturers now develop in-house metals that guarantee eternal sturdiness and rigidity. These be certain that the components don’t change their form because of temperature as simply.


Keep your computerized watches flat on their again, when not in use. When the place of the watch tilts or shifts, the gravity could cause the stability wheel to regulate, inevitably, inflicting a couple of seconds’ lack of time. Alternatively, many advocate storing the automated watch in a watch winder in a single day when not in use. This not solely ensures the fitting place but in addition winds your watch to maintain it powered always!

Break-in Period

New watches usually want a while to operate repeatedly and unfold the lubrication round. Only then the motion can preserve accuracy and consistency. For this motive, watch retailers sometimes advise giving your new off-the-self watch at the least a month as its break-in interval. If your watch continues to indicate variation past the break-in interval, a small regulation or adjustment to the elements can simply set this proper.

Most Accurate Automatic Watch Movements

As with each progressing expertise, watch engineers have discovered methods to enhance the accuracy of computerized watch motion over time. Most computerized watches have an accuracy of +2/-2  on the most. To date, the automated actions haven’t crushed quartz when it comes to accuracy. For occasion, the Citizen Caliber 0100 quartz motion maintains a tremendous annual accuracy ± 1 second. So far, no computerized watch is as correct, however listed below are among the most correct computerized watch actions accessible.

COSC licensed actions

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co‑Axial Master Chronometer 42 MM
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (Image: Omega)

As we famous within the above part, chronometers with COSC certification assure essentially the most correct watches. To this extent, these computerized watches minimize the overall variation of 25 seconds per day to only +6/-4 seconds. One instance is the Omega Seamaster with the 8800 calibre.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
Rolex Datejust 41 (Image: Rolex)

Rolex has continually set new requirements for watch producers to purpose as much as. Be it with their design, performance, or accuracy, this model actually pushes the boundaries of innovation. In phrases of accuracy, Rolex engineers have managed to chop it down to only +2/-2 seconds per day. This is in contrast to another model dealing in computerized watches and comes closest to the accuracy of a quartz watch. Check out the Rolex Datejust 41 if you’re prepared to spend the additional bucks for a luxurious high-end watch with excessive accuracy.

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat actions

Grand Seiko SBGH271 Watch
Grand Seiko SBGH271 (Image: Grand Seiko)

Seiko is a well-known model for quartz watches. Part of the Seiko Holding Corporation can also be Grand Seiko, the sister firm of Seiko, manufacturing mechanical and computerized watches. Grand Seiko launched as a contest to the rising mechanical watch producers from Switzerland.  Given Seiko’s experience in expertise, they quickly caught up with the market in making high-quality correct computerized actions with only a +5/-3 seconds distinction per day. The SBGH271 mannequin internet hosting the 9S85 caliber is one instance of computerized motion.

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