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How to wind an automatic wristwatch!

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Joined: Aug 05, 2006
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Location: Alconbury - UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:06 am    Post subject: How to wind an automatic wristwatch! Reply with quote

About 30 years ago, I bought a Citizen automatic wrist watch, which automatically winds itself up with the movement of your arm. At the time, I worked in a food factory, where you could not wear watches, so I got out of the habit of using it.

When my son started secondary school at 12 years old, I decided to give him the watch, so that he would have no excuses for missed buses / lessons etc. He was a skinny young man then, so I had to remove about 5 links from the bracelet to stop it falling off him.

Fast forward 20 years. After university and various house moves, my son offered me the watch back as he had never used it since about second year of secondary!

I wound the watch up and was pleasantly surprised to find that it still worked. Even better was that it only lost about one minute after two weeks. The original links that I had removed from the bracelet were long gone, so I couldn't actually use it properly. It went back in a drawer for a couple of years and was almost forgotten again.

I was walking past a small jewellers shop in town one day, and noticed a display of Citizen watches. I went in to the shop and told them about the watch with the missing links from the bracelet and asked if they could help me out. The jeweller told me to bring the watch in and he would have a look. I went back the following Saturday. The jeweller took my watch and had a look. He could not replace the missing links, but he did have a second hand, branded Citizen bracelet in almost new condition. Unfortunately, It would not quite fit my watch. He asked me to leave the watch with him and he would see what could be done. I went back a week later, to find that he had modified the bracelet to fit the watch and it looked as good as new. 20 later, I left the shop, proudly wearing my watch that had not been used properly in many years.

In the intervening years, I had collected four different watches, so couldn't really use the one that I had rescued, but it was also a shame to give it away, as it had been chosen by my wife, so I had a look on e.Bay and found a tutelary, which is an automatic watch winder. It is basically a watch holder, which has a motorised drive. The drive is switchable to run clockwise or anti-clockwise. There is an automatic timer built in, which is non adjustable. This makes the unit run for one hour, then rest for three. The cycle then repeats.

I started using my tutelary, which had no brand name, but was made in China. I would switch it on to clockwise for one day, then the following day, switch it to anti-clockwise, to give the watch an even amount of movement. I was a bit disappointed because I would find that after a week, my watch had stopped again and would need manually winding to get it going, which defeated the object of buying the thing in the first place.

Another house move and the watch and tutelary ended up at the back of a drawer again. We got settled in and got Christmas out of the way, then the watch and tutelary resurfaced again!

I started to wonder if I could change the timing or speed of the tutelary, maybe make it run for three hours and rest for one, or maybe two and two? The control board for the small DC motor was simply a couple of resistors, a couple of capacitors and a microchip wit about ten terminals on it. Surely, If I change one or more connectors on the chip, that would have the desired effect. Or, could I use an Arduino to replace the motor control board? Maybe even bypass the chip, have the motor running continuously and simply plug it in with a mechanical timer? I am no electronics genius so I decided to Google it, someone on YouTube must have done it already.

I couldn't find any information to do what I wanted, but I found out that automatic watches are "biased", they are either a clockwise mechanism or an anti-clockwise mechanism. This will vary between different manufacturers and even different models. Someone on a watch forum site suggested setting the tutelary to either CW or ACW and not changing it.

I manually wound my watch fully and put it into the tutelary, set on CW. After five days, it had stopped. I manually wound it again, this time, setting it to ACW. It has now been running for twelve days and the watch has not stopped.

I didn't know that watches needed to be set to one or the other rotation to work properly. The instruction slip that came with the tutelary never mentioned it. It probably took me five years in all to get this working!

I'm sorry for the long post, but if it helps anyone out, then it is worth it. If you feel that my post will benefit anyone on a different website, please feel free to copy it.
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