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B.R.M GF6-44-SA-AO GOLF
B.R.M GF6-44-SA-AO GOLF
$4,215
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Solexport International
MU
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 40mm Rose Gold Chocolate Rubber Strap...
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 40mm Rose Gold Chocolate Rubber Strap...
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21
US
Pierre Vallee Chronomaster/Aviator/Sea Diver
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Patek Philippe Calatrava Vintage 3429J Yellow Dial 3X signed
Patek Philippe Calatrava Vintage 3429J Yellow Dial 3X signed
$10,750
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
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$17,999
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Patek Philippe Grand Complication Minute Repeater 5078P-010
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$285,000
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Madison Time Watches
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Patek Philippe Aquanaut Stainless Steel 5065
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Stainless Steel 5065
$14,999
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TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Only Sixty Made
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$74,000
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Rolex Milgauss
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$5,500
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Rolex Daytona
Rolex Daytona
$11,000
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US
Hublot Big Bang 41 mm
Hublot Big Bang 41 mm
$30,000
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Rolex Yacht-Master
Rolex Yacht-Master
$8,000
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US
Rolex Daytona
Rolex Daytona
$24,888
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Private seller
 
US
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon
$10,000
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Private seller
 
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Rolex Submariner Date
Rolex Submariner Date
$7,499
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Private seller
 
US
IWC Big Ingenieur
IWC Big Ingenieur
$7,100
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Private seller
 
US
Chopard 1970s LARGE HAPPY DIAMOND SAUDI KING REF. 2121
Chopard 1970s LARGE HAPPY DIAMOND SAUDI KING REF. 2121
$11,700
Free shipping
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Watch Hunter
 
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Heuer Autavia
Heuer Autavia
$6,799
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MKG
 
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Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 16610 Date Stainless Steel
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 16610 Date Stainless Steel
$5,799
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Phigora
59
US
Hublot Big Bang King  Min Repeater NEW 62% off
Hublot Big Bang King Min Repeater NEW 62% off
$162,000
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Raffi Boyadjian Watches Inc.
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Cartier W62020x6
Cartier W62020x6
$10,999
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Watch My Diamonds
31
US
Rolex GMT - MASTER II COKE BEZEL ALL ORIGINAL PARTS
Rolex GMT - MASTER II COKE BEZEL ALL ORIGINAL PARTS
$5,995
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Swiss Moves
18
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Rolex platinum Day-Date
Rolex platinum Day-Date
$28,500
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Paul Duggan Co., Inc
35
US
Cartier Santos 100 Large Steel Leather Strap Unworn
Cartier Santos 100 Large Steel Leather Strap Unworn
$5,799
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Avi & Co NY
21
US
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, White Dial, 18K Yellow Gold REF: 116518
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, White Dial, 18K Yellow Gold REF: 116518
$15,950
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Sea Wave Diamonds
44
US
Breguet Marine Chronograph 18k Rose Gold
Breguet Marine Chronograph 18k Rose Gold
$17,800
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Averstime NY Luxury Watches
5
US
Omega Seamaster 300 M Midsize Chronometer 2551.80
Omega Seamaster 300 M Midsize Chronometer 2551.80
$1,615
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PreOwned Watch Shop
8
US
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 16233 W/ Papers
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 16233 W/ Papers
$4,999
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Phigora
59
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Breguet Tourbillon Thin Automatic Platinum 38% off
Breguet Tourbillon Thin Automatic Platinum 38% off
$101,500
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Raffi Boyadjian Watches Inc.
6
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Cartier Diamond Cartier Santos 100 Xl Chronograph 17ct Natural...
Cartier Diamond Cartier Santos 100 Xl Chronograph 17ct Natural...
$14,500
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31
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Breitling Navitimer POLISHED LIKE NEW
Breitling Navitimer POLISHED LIKE NEW
$3,795
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Swiss Moves
18
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Rolex stainless steel Sea-Dweller
Rolex stainless steel Sea-Dweller
$12,900
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Paul Duggan Co., Inc
35
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Patek Philippe Calatrava
Patek Philippe Calatrava
$18,000
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Fine Watch Bank
8
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 18K blue dial
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 18K blue dial
$53,200
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Sea Wave Diamonds
44
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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Ultra Thin Small Second
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Ultra Thin Small Second
$5,500
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LBA Exquisite Time Pieces
 
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Omega Seamaster 300 M Chronometer 2531.80  41mm
Omega Seamaster 300 M Chronometer 2531.80 41mm
$1,975
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PreOwned Watch Shop
8
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Omega Seamaster GMT 2535.80 Co-axial Automatic
Omega Seamaster GMT 2535.80 Co-axial Automatic
$2,999
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Breguet Classic 18kWG Diamonds 72% off
Breguet Classic 18kWG Diamonds 72% off
$5,900
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Patek Philippe Aquanaut
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$17,500
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RealTime NY LLC
 
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Breitling OLD NAVITIMER II CHRONOGRAPH POLISHED
Breitling OLD NAVITIMER II CHRONOGRAPH POLISHED
$3,795
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Swiss Moves
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Rolex stainless steel ceramic Red Sea-Dweller
Rolex stainless steel ceramic Red Sea-Dweller
$13,800
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Paul Duggan Co., Inc
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Rolex Lady- Datejust President Yellow Gold
Rolex Lady- Datejust President Yellow Gold
$4,600
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Breitling Bentley Motors
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$5,850
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Rolex Datejust 2 II 41mm  Black Steel New Watch
Rolex Datejust 2 II 41mm Black Steel New Watch
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Omega Seamaster 300 M Chrono Diver   2594.52  41.5mm
Omega Seamaster 300 M Chrono Diver 2594.52 41.5mm
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Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 18K YG & SS 16233G
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 18K YG & SS 16233G
$4,899
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Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Blue Steel 44mm
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Blue Steel 44mm
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Omega Seamaster  (16219)
Omega Seamaster (16219)
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Paul Picot Atelier 18K Solid Gold Chronometer Rattrapante
Paul Picot Atelier 18K Solid Gold Chronometer Rattrapante
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Jaeger-LeCoultre Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme...
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Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Diamond Dial Diamond Bezel (no date)
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Diamond Dial Diamond Bezel (no date)
$3,299
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Patek Philippe Complication World Time 5130J-001
Patek Philippe Complication World Time 5130J-001
$36,000
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Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Travelgraph 18k Yellow Gold GMT
Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Travelgraph 18k Yellow Gold GMT
$6,900
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Daniele Trissi
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Chopard Mille Miglia GMT, Ref 8992
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$3,775
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Off Shore Chronograph
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Off Shore Chronograph
$15,999
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Phigora
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IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands
$3,995
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Watch Noble
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Cartier Pasha  (16350)
Cartier Pasha (16350)
$24,999
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Chronostore
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Breitling Blackbird Chronomat New Style
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$3,245
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Chopard Men's 1000 Mille Miglia Gran Turismo XL 8997...
Chopard Men's 1000 Mille Miglia Gran Turismo XL 8997...
$3,095
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Rolex Datejust 36mm FACTORY DIAMONDS  White Gold Bezel / Steel
Rolex Datejust 36mm FACTORY DIAMONDS White Gold Bezel / Steel
$4,877
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14
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Patek Philippe Complication Wold Time 5130R-001
Patek Philippe Complication Wold Time 5130R-001
$37,000
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Breguet Héritage 18k white gold
Breguet Héritage 18k white gold
$14,850
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Automatic Watches: Self-Winding Mechanical Timepieces

Automatic watches are powered by the natural motion of your wrist while you wear them. This type of watch has a rich history reaching back to the 18th century. Today, countless brands produce their own automatic calibers for their watches.

Highlights

  • Automatically wound by the natural movements of your arm
  • Environmentally-friendly: No batteries to produce or throw away
  • The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is one of the most famous automatic watches
  • John Harwood is considered the inventor of the automatic wristwatch
  • Automatic watches available in almost every price range

Automatic Watches: Self-Winding Timepieces

Automatic watches fall under the larger umbrella term of mechanical watches. They offer a key advantage over manual timepieces: They wind automatically via the movement of the wearer's arm. An oscillating mass inside the caliber is responsible for winding the spring. Today, this is in most cases a winding rotor. It is flexibly mounted so that gravity pulls it towards the center. When you're wearing the watch and move your wrist, the rotor moves and gives the caliber new energy. Automatic watches don't require batteries, making mechanical watches comparably more environmentally friendly than battery-powered quartz watches.
Automatic watches are available from almost every famous watch manufacturer in all price ranges. Less expensive models are often powered by base calibers made by the ébauche manufacturers ETA, Soprod, or Sellita. Various manufacturers use these calibers in a more or less reworked form in their watches. These calibers even power the watches made by famous brands such as Breitling and TAG Heuer. However, both manufacturers have developed their own in-house movements as well.
Rolex and Patek Philippe are some of the most well-known watch manufacturers. Unlike many other brands, these two Geneva-based manufacturers don't outsource base calibers. Instead, they use their own. For example, Rolex's caliber 3130 is considered very robust, reliable, and precise. These qualities and more make the caliber one of the best automatic movements on the market; it powers Rolex watches such as the Submariner. Since Rolex produces their watches almost entirely in-house, production is costlier. This results in higher prices for automatic watches with in-house movements.

Buying Tips

If you're searching for an automatic watch, the hard part is actually choosing one. Should it be large or small, simple or extravagant, affordable or expensive? The selection is ample for every taste and budget. Pre-owned automatic watches from Citizen, Seiko, or Swatch are available for around 50 euros. These watches often only have three hands for the hours, minutes, and seconds. Some also have a date or even day/date display.
In the price range between 100 and 200 euros, you can find diverse new automatic watches from brands like Seiko or Fossil. Pre-owned watches from long-established manufacturers such as Tissot, Hamilton, or Longines cost up to 500 euros. The situation is similar in the 1,000 euros and under price range, though here you can also find new models from the German brand Marcello C.
In the 1,000 euro price range, you can find pre-owned Omega or Breitling watches. New automatic three-hand watches are available from Oris, Raymond Weil, or Rado.
However, if you're looking for an automatic chronograph, you need to adjust your budget accordingly. A pre-owned automatic chronograph costs at least 500 euros; this applies to watches from brands such as Tissot or Hamilton. New chronographs cost a few hundred euros more, around 800 euros. These watches are often powered by ETA's Valjoux 7750, which is considered one of the most successful automatic chronograph calibers in the world.
If you're searching for a new automatic Rolex, you need to plan on spending at least 3,000 euros. You can purchase the introductory model, Oyster Perpetual, for this price. You can occasionally find pre-owned vintage watches from this Genevan manufacturer for less than 1,000 euros. The Submariner, one of the first and most famous diving watches in the world, is available pre-owned for around 4,100 euros. New, it costs around 5,600 euros. Rolex's chronograph, the Daytona, is available for around 7,500 euros.
The most expensive automatic watches are from brands such as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. These watches are often made of platinum or 18-karat gold and feature countless diamonds on their dial and/or case. At times, these watches are also incredibly expensive as they're rare vintage watches coveted by collectors. Prices over 1 million euros are not too rare when it comes to these watches.

The Technology Behind Automatic Watches

The mainspring of an automatic watch is, as the name suggests, automatically wound by the movement itself. The mainspring is wound, becomes tense, and stores energy. This happens through the natural movements of the wearer's arm when the watch is on his or her wrist. This mechanism eliminates the need to manually wind the mainspring. Instead, an oscillating mass - often the rotor - winds the mainspring. Gravity causes the flexibly mounted rotor to move towards the center and a gear-train transfers the energy from the rotor's movement to the barrel. Viewed from a physics standpoint, the mechanism converts kinetic energy into potential energy.
There are automatic movements that wind in one or both directions. Bi-directional winding movements have so-called reverser gears. These ensure that the rotor winds the barrel in both directions. Uni-directional winding movements actually wind bidirectionally, but the mainspring is only wound in one direction. Both variants have a reduction gear which converts the fast movements of the rotor into slower movements with more torque. The end of the mainspring is not directly connected to the barrel so that it doesn't snap off when it's fully wound. The outer end of the spring is outfitted with a bridle, which keeps the pressure on the mainspring's outermost coil. When not fully wound, that pressure allows the outer end of the mainspring to be caught in a notch in the barrel wall. Once the spring is fully wound, it moves along to the next notch.
Automatic watches have many advantages: They're comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and usually more precise. This improved precision is due to the mainspring, which is always tense and has a more constant torque than mainsprings in hand-wound calibers. This has a positive effect on the amplitude. The amplitude is the balance wheel's degree of rotation and refers to the wheel's maximum rotation angle between equilibrium and a reversal point.

Technical Details of Automatic Watches

  • The winding rotor winds the mainspring in the barrel
  • Advantages: no manual winding required, environmentally-friendly, more precise
  • Uni-directional and bi-directional winding movements

The Origins of Automatic Watches

Automatic winding is one of the most important and long-lasting innovations in the history of watchmaking and the mechanism is one of the most widespread complications in use today.
Today's automatic watches can trace their origin back to the year 1729. Abraham-Louis Perrelet improved the winding mechanism of pocket watches in the 18th century. A small key was required to wind a movement before this improvement. Since the key was never there when you needed it, winding mechanisms that didn't require a key were in high demand. Perrelet wanted to invent a self-winding pocket watch. In 1770, he introduced his pedometer watch after countless attempts. The watch had an oscillating weight which teetered back and forth as the wearer walked. The motion caused the oscillating weight to tense the mainspring. Perrelet also developed a caliber with a winding rotor which swiveled above the movement. With these innovations, the groundwork for today's automatic watches was laid.
Refined men carried their pocket watches tucked away safely in their jacket, vest, or pants. The timepieces barely moved while in their pockets, which meant that the oscillating mass didn't have enough energy to wind the mainspring. The crown-wind method solved the key-wind problem in the mid-19th century, making the automatic pocket watch superfluous.

The First Automatic Wristwatches

The French watchmaker Léon Leroy was also a pioneer in the development of automatic watches. He presented his first automatic wristwatch in 1922. Some of these watches even had a date display. However, Leroy was far away from being able to mass produce a series.
The British watchmaker John Harwood lead automatic wristwatches to series production. He began working on automatic movements in 1922. Two years later, he patented his work, paving the way for the first series-produced automatic wristwatches.
Rolex's Oyster Perpetual was one of the first automatic wristwatches. Rolex introduced the watch to the market in 1931. It's one of the few early models that has lasted over the years and is still produced today. The principle behind Oyster Perpetual's winding rotor is at the heart of every modern automatic wristwatch.