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Rolex GMT-Master II Stainless Steel - 116710LN
TOP
Rolex GMT-Master II Stainless Steel - 116710LN
$8,272
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Want Your Watch
 
US
Cartier Ballon Bleu
TOP
Cartier Ballon Bleu
$9,000
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Eternity Jewelry Corp dba Happy Jewelers
18
US
Richard Mille RM 011 Spa Classic
TOP
Richard Mille RM 011 Spa Classic
$144,999
Free shipping
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Express Watches
7
US
Richard Mille RM 016
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Richard Mille RM 016
$58,799
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Express Watches
7
US
Richard Mille RM 010
TOP
Richard Mille RM 010
$92,699
Free shipping
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Express Watches
7
US
Rolex DAY-DATE 40mm 18K Yellow Gold President Diamond Dial ...
TOP
Rolex DAY-DATE 40mm 18K Yellow Gold President Diamond Dial ...
$31,999
Free shipping
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Avi & Co NY
101
US
Rolex Submariner Date Boxes Papers Blue Dial Bezel SS/18kt Gold
TOP
Rolex Submariner Date Boxes Papers Blue Dial Bezel SS/18kt Gold
$8,488
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Rolex 126660 NEW  DEEPSEA SEA DWELLER 2018 Open Warranty Card...
TOP
Rolex 126660 NEW DEEPSEA SEA DWELLER 2018 Open Warranty Card...
$12,900
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Vision Of Time
 
US
IWC Big Pilot Bronze Limited Edition IW501005
TOP
IWC Big Pilot Bronze Limited Edition IW501005
$10,975
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Harley's Time LLC
229
US
Patek Philippe : Worldtime 5130 :  5130R-018 :  18k rose gold
TOP
Patek Philippe : Worldtime 5130 : 5130R-018 : 18k rose gold
$34,200
Seller
Bernard Watch Co.
290
US
Rolex Sky-Dweller
Rolex Sky-Dweller
$21,000
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
US
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon - Factory Warranty - NEW
TOP
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon - Factory Warranty - NEW
$7,550
Seller
Watch Exchange Co.
147
US
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Omega Speedmaster Racing 326.30.40.50.06.001
TOP
Omega Speedmaster Racing 326.30.40.50.06.001
$3,100
Seller
Scorpio Luxury Corp
36
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Summer Edition
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Summer Edition
$57,999
Free shipping
Seller
Express Watches
7
US
Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar 5074R
Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar 5074R
$515,000
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
Rolex Men's Rhodium Datejust 36mm Silver Dial Boxes Books 16264
TOP
Rolex Men's Rhodium Datejust 36mm Silver Dial Boxes Books 16264
$5,638
Free shipping
Seller
Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Rolex Submariner (No Date) 114060 NEW
TOP
Rolex Submariner (No Date) 114060 NEW
$8,500
Seller
Vision Of Time
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
$18,500
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Watch Expo
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14700 14790 | Uber Rare
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14700 14790 | Uber Rare
$16,950
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Classic Watch Inc.
13
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
$52,500
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
US
Rolex President 18038 (C24-64)
Rolex President 18038 (C24-64)
$13,450
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Knight Watch & Jewelry Co.
7
US
Breguet Classique 5140BB 18k white gold
TOP
Breguet Classique 5140BB 18k white gold
$14,275
Free shipping
Seller
Daniele Trissi
31
US
Richard Mille RM 011 1st Singapore Grand Prix F1 Night Watch...
TOP
Richard Mille RM 011 1st Singapore Grand Prix F1 Night Watch...
$137,999
Free shipping
Seller
Express Watches
7
US
IWC Portuguese Grande Complication
IWC Portuguese Grande Complication
$115,000
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
Rolex Lady-Datejust 26mm Champagne Tapestry Dial Fluted Box...
TOP
Rolex Lady-Datejust 26mm Champagne Tapestry Dial Fluted Box...
$3,734
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Rolex Sky- Dweller Black Steel and  Gold NEW
TOP
Rolex Sky- Dweller Black Steel and Gold NEW
$15,975
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Vision Of Time
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
$16,950
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Watch Expo
 
US
Omega Constellation Gold on Steel Cal 564 168.010 Pie Pan 1970s
Omega Constellation Gold on Steel Cal 564 168.010 Pie Pan 1970s
$1,900
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ExpertsWatches
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Vampire
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Vampire
$24,000
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual TIme 25730 | Blue Dial | Mint
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual TIme 25730 | Blue Dial | Mint
$12,500
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Classic Watch Inc.
13
US
Rolex Bubble Back (C24-54)
Rolex Bubble Back (C24-54)
$4,850
Seller
Knight Watch & Jewelry Co.
7
US
Richard Mille RM 011 02
Richard Mille RM 011 02
$185,499
Free shipping
Seller
Express Watches
7
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
$27,950
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Chad Warrick
16
US
Rolex Lady MidSize Datejust 31mm Slate Diamond Dial Bezel Box Set
TOP
Rolex Lady MidSize Datejust 31mm Slate Diamond Dial Bezel Box Set
$5,957
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Rolex Gents Datejust   Stainless steel & 14k Gold
TOP
Rolex Gents Datejust Stainless steel & 14k Gold
$3,600
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Vision Of Time
 
US
Patek Philippe Calatrava
Patek Philippe Calatrava
$21,500
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Watch Expo
 
US
Oris CLIPPERTON LIMITED EDITION
Oris CLIPPERTON LIMITED EDITION
$1,885
Free shipping
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Avorio Watches
 
US
Rolex GMT-Master II
Rolex GMT-Master II
$22,000
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790  | Rose Gold and Tantalum
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790 | Rose Gold and Tantalum
$12,500
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Classic Watch Inc.
13
US
Omega Vintage Automatic Seamaster with original satin dial
Omega Vintage Automatic Seamaster with original satin dial
$3,150
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Knight Watch & Jewelry Co.
7
US
A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual
A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual
$47,999
Free shipping
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Express Watches
7
US
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic
$7,300
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Chad Warrick
16
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Rolex Lady MidSize Pink Datejust 31mm Salmon Roman Dial Box Books
TOP
Rolex Lady MidSize Pink Datejust 31mm Salmon Roman Dial Box Books
$5,493
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa XL Steel
TOP
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa XL Steel
$5,200
Free shipping
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Daniele Trissi
31
US
Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe Nautilus
$52,500
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Watch Expo
 
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Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special
$4,700
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The Watch Connection
 
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Rolex Submariner Date
Rolex Submariner Date
$25,000
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
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Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5035r | Full Set
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5035r | Full Set
$22,500
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Classic Watch Inc.
13
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Rolex Oyster Perpetual 6564 Watch NEW TUBE & CROWN CAL 1030 W/...
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 6564 Watch NEW TUBE & CROWN CAL 1030 W/...
$2,200
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ExpertsWatches
 
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Lebron James
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Lebron James
$75,999
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7
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
$23,000
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16
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Rolex Men's Day-Date 36mm Morellis President Blue Roman Dial...
TOP
Rolex Men's Day-Date 36mm Morellis President Blue Roman Dial...
$9,987
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Invicta Mens Automatic Pro Diver S2 Watch
Invicta Mens Automatic Pro Diver S2 Watch
$89
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Jacob Time
 
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Audemars Piguet “panda” Royal Oak Offshore
Audemars Piguet “panda” Royal Oak Offshore
$18,200
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Watch Expo
 
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Rolex Yacht Master 69628 (C24-63)
Rolex Yacht Master 69628 (C24-63)
$13,700
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Knight Watch & Jewelry Co.
7
US
Rolex Datejust
Rolex Datejust
$9,300
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Shreve, Crump & Low
 
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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25594 Day Date Moon | With Box
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 25594 Day Date Moon | With Box
$18,360
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Classic Watch Inc.
13
US
Omega F6212 14k Gold Filled 344 Bumper Automatic Watch
Omega F6212 14k Gold Filled 344 Bumper Automatic Watch
$600
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ExpertsWatches
 
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Chopard Happy Sport
Chopard Happy Sport
$5,999
Free shipping
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Express Watches
7
US
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Rose
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Rose
$40,000
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Chad Warrick
16
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Rolex Men's Datejust 36mm Black MOP Dial Diamond Bezel Boxes...
TOP
Rolex Men's Datejust 36mm Black MOP Dial Diamond Bezel Boxes...
$6,238
Free shipping
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Mt. Vernon Specialties
13
US
Hamilton KHAKI FIELD AUTO MENS WATCH
Hamilton KHAKI FIELD AUTO MENS WATCH
$389
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Jacob Time
 
US
Patek Philippe Calatrava
Patek Philippe Calatrava
$17,500
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Watch Expo
 
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Rolex Datejust II Steel and Gold (C24-65)
Rolex Datejust II Steel and Gold (C24-65)
$12,450
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Knight Watch & Jewelry Co.
7
US
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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.