Do watches stop when not worn

Do Watches Stop When Not Worn? (Automatic Watches)

Have you ever wondered if your watch stops ticking when you’re not wearing it? The common perception is that watches stop when not in use, but is this really the case?

In this article, we will explore the functionality and mechanics of watches, particularly their power reserve and winding mechanisms. We will uncover whether watches indeed stop when not worn and shed light on the factors that can affect their accuracy and power reserve when not in use. Understanding how watches operate when idle can help dispel misconceptions and provide insights into their functionality.

How mechanical and quartz watches work

Mechanical watches operate through the interaction of a mainspring, a series of gears, and a balance wheel. The mainspring is wound by the user and stores energy that is gradually released to drive the gears that power the watch’s hands. The balance wheel regulates the flow of energy to ensure consistent and accurate timekeeping.

In contrast, quartz watches use a battery to power a quartz crystal that vibrates at a precise frequency, which is then translated into timekeeping via a microchip.

Power reserve and winding mechanisms

Mechanical watches require regular winding to keep the mainspring fully charged. Some watches have automatic winding mechanisms that use the motion of the wearer’s wrist to power the watch. Additionally, power reserve indicators display the amount of energy left in the mainspring. Quartz watches typically have a longer battery life and do not require regular winding.

Factors that affect a watch’s accuracy and performance

There are several factors that can affect a watch’s accuracy and performance, including temperature, humidity, magnetic fields, and shock. Temperature changes can cause the metal components of a watch to expand or contract, impacting its accuracy. Humidity can also cause damage to the internal components, while magnetic fields and shock can disrupt the balance wheel and affect timekeeping.

The impact of long periods of disuse on a watch

Long periods of disuse can also have an impact on a watch’s accuracy and performance. The lubricants used in mechanical watches can dry out, causing friction between the components. Additionally, quartz watches can experience battery leakage if left unused for too long.

Best practices for storing and maintaining watches

Proper storage and maintenance can help ensure a watch’s accuracy and longevity. Watches should be stored in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight and magnetic fields. Regular servicing by a professional watchmaker is also recommended to maintain the watch’s performance and extend its lifespan.

Additionally, regular cleaning and polishing can help keep the watch looking its best.


In conclusion, most mechanical watches will stop running if left unworn for an extended period. This is because the mainspring inside the watch winds down and loses its stored energy. However, modern quartz watches use batteries and will continue running even when not worn. To ensure a mechanical watch continues running, it’s important to wind it regularly or invest in an automatic watch winder.