Can Automatic Watches Be Overwound? (Quick Answer)

Ah, the world of automatic watches—a fascinating blend of precision engineering and elegant craftsmanship that captures the imagination of timepiece enthusiasts everywhere.

One question has long loomed in horological circles: Can an automatic watch really be overwound?

Beloved by collectors and casual wearers alike, these self-winding marvels are often shrouded in mystery, leading to misconceptions about their maintenance and proper usage.

In this blog post, we’re lifting the veil to debunk common myths surrounding overwinding in automatic watches while shedding light on how they function and why you should never underestimate the value of proper care.

Let’s take a look.

Can Automatic Watches Be Overwound?

No, automatic watches cannot be overwound due to their safety mechanisms and design.

Overwinding is a term often used in the watch world to describe the act of winding a mechanical watch beyond its limits. In most cases, overwinding can be harmful to watches as it causes excessive tension on the mainspring, leading to inaccurate timekeeping or even breakage.


Unlike hand-wound mechanical watches that require manual winding, automatic watches have a mechanism that disengages the winding gears from the mainspring once it is fully wound.

This prevents any excess tension from building up and damaging the watch. Additionally, automatic watches have an infinitely-slipping mainspring that can slip without causing harm when too much force is applied during winding.

The Limits Of The Main Spring

YouTube player

The mainspring in an automatic watch is responsible for storing and releasing the energy needed to power the watch’s movement over a period of time. However, there are limits to how much tension the mainspring can handle.

If too much force is applied to wind it, it can cause damage and negatively affect the timekeeping accuracy of the watch. This is why most automatic watches come equipped with a mechanism that disengages the winding gears from the mainspring once it is fully wound.

Additionally, regular winding and setting procedures help maintain proper tension levels within the mainspring and extend its lifespan.

Safety Mechanisms In Automatic Watches

Automatic watches are designed with several safety mechanisms to prevent any damage caused by overwinding. These mechanisms work together to ensure the watch remains in good condition and functions properly.

Another critical aspect of automatic watch safety mechanisms is that they have an “overwind prevention device” which ensures that once fully wound, they stop winding.

Besides, most automatic watches come equipped with an intermediate wheel or ratchet wheel as a protective measure that releases tension when necessary, preventing excessive pressure buildup within the movement.

Importance Of Proper Maintenance For Automatic Watches

Regular Winding And Setting

Regular winding and setting are crucial for the proper function and longevity of automatic watches. It is recommended to wind an automatic watch at least once a week, even if it has not been worn.

This helps to maintain tension on the mainspring and keeps the watch running smoothly.

Setting your watch correctly is also important for accurate timekeeping. If your watch has complications such as a date or moon phase display, make sure to set them properly using the instructions provided with your specific model.

Additionally, always ensure that your automatic watch is wound before setting it to avoid any potential damage from adjusting settings while there isn’t enough power in the mainspring.

Avoiding Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can have a negative impact on the functionality of an automatic watch.

Exposure to high temperatures, such as leaving your watch in direct sunlight or near a heat source, can cause damage to the movement’s delicate components and lead to inaccurate timekeeping.

To keep your automatic watch in optimal working condition, it’s essential that you avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures.

This means storing it in a cool and dry place when not being worn, avoiding hot environments like saunas or hot tubs while wearing your watch, and keeping it away from sources of heat such as radiators or heaters.

Regular Cleaning And Servicing

Proper maintenance is crucial to keep your automatic watch in good working condition. Regular cleaning and servicing can extend the life of your timepiece and ensure its accuracy.

It’s recommended that you have your watch serviced every three to five years, depending on usage and manufacturer recommendations. During the service, the movement will be disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled.

In addition to periodic servicing, it’s important to clean your watch regularly with a soft cloth or brush and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or chemicals such as perfumes or detergents.


In conclusion, the myth that automatic watches can be overwound is just that – a myth. Automatic watches are designed with safety mechanisms to prevent overwinding and damage to the mainspring.

It’s important to debunk this myth so watch enthusiasts can fully enjoy their timepieces without fear of damaging them.

While proper maintenance is still necessary for optimal performance, understanding how your automatic watch works can go a long way in ensuring it lasts for years to come.