Can You Damage An Automatic Watch By Shaking It?

Automatic watches, with their intricate mechanics and smooth operation, are truly marvels of engineering. They’re lauded for their convenience – no need for batteries or daily winding as they’re powered by the movement of the wearer.

However, the complexities of these timepieces often raise questions about their care and handling, particularly around the act of shaking.

While it’s a widespread belief that shaking an automatic watch can cause harm, the truth is more nuanced.

Yes, extreme shaking could potentially impact the delicacy of the watch’s inner mechanisms, but normal, everyday movement, including gentle shaking, won’t damage these robust timepieces.

So, if you’re contemplating whether shaking could harm your automatic watch, you’re about to embark on an enlightening journey.

Unveil the realities of automatic watch care, debunk common myths, and gain insights into ensuring your timepiece’s longevity. This article is your comprehensive guide to understanding the relationship between automatic watches and shaking.

Can You Damage An Automatic Watch By Shaking It


Understanding the Mechanics of an Automatic Watch

How Automatic Watches Work

An automatic watch, also known as a self-winding watch, derives its power from the wearer’s wrist movement. Inside these watches lies a semicircular metal weight called a rotor.

As the wearer moves, this rotor pivots, turning and winding the watch’s mainspring, which stores energy. This energy is then gradually released to power the watch.

The Role of Shaking in Automatic Watches

The concept of shaking naturally ties into the fundamental workings of an automatic watch. Essentially, the gentle “shaking” or motion of your wrist throughout the day keeps the watch wound and running.

This natural movement is integral to the function of an automatic watch, and under normal circumstances, it poses no threat to the watch’s mechanism.

The Myth Versus Reality: Shaking an Automatic Watch

The Common Myths About Shaking Automatic Watches

A prevalent myth is that shaking an automatic watch can cause damage. This belief likely stems from the fact that the watch’s internal components are intricate and delicate.

However, it’s important to differentiate between violent shaking and the regular, gentle motion that an automatic watch is designed to endure.

The Reality: Can Shaking Really Damage an Automatic Watch?

In reality, an automatic watch is built to withstand normal shaking. The watch’s mechanism is robust enough to absorb the impacts of everyday movement, including gentle shaking.

However, violent or excessive shaking could potentially harm the watch. This doesn’t mean that you should be overly cautious – just avoid subjecting your watch to extreme forces.

The Impact of Excessive Shaking on Automatic Watches

Possible Effects of Excessive Shaking on the Watch Mechanism

While gentle shaking won’t harm your automatic watch, excessive shaking can. This could potentially knock the rotor out of alignment or cause other internal components to collide, leading to wear and tear over time. In extreme cases, it could even result in a broken mainspring or damaged jewels.

Expert Opinions on Shaking Automatic Watches

Most watch experts agree that while automatic watches are robust, they’re not invincible. Excessive shaking is generally discouraged to ensure the longevity of your timepiece. However, it’s important to note that the level of shaking that could cause damage is far beyond what a watch would experience under normal wear.

Best Practices for Automatic Watch Handling

How to Properly Handle and Wind an Automatic Watch

To keep your automatic watch in prime condition, it’s best to wind it down manually every once in a while, particularly if you don’t wear it daily. When winding, turn the crown clockwise gently until you feel resistance. Avoid shaking the watch to wind it, as this is inefficient and could potentially lead to damage if done excessively.

What to Avoid to Ensure Your Watch’s Longevity

Avoid exposing your watch to extreme forces or shocks, such as vigorous shaking or dropping. It’s also wise to remove your watch during high-impact activities or sports. Additionally, keep your watch away from extreme temperatures and magnetic fields, as these can affect its accuracy.

Common Automatic Watch Problems Not Caused by Shaking

Other Common Issues with Automatic Watches

Shaking isn’t the only potential threat to your automatic watch. Other common issues include water damage, magnetization, and general wear and tear. These problems can often be avoided with proper care and regular servicing.

Tips for Maintaining Your Automatic Watch

Regularly clean your watch with a soft cloth to remove dirt and sweat. Ensure the crown is fully pushed in to prevent water from entering the case. If your watch has a screw-down crown, make sure it’s always tightly secured. Store your watch in a cool, dry place and have it serviced by a professional every 3-5 years.

Professional Watch Care: When to Seek Help

Signs Your Automatic Watch Needs Professional Attention

If your watch is running too fast or slow, it may need to be adjusted or demagnetized. If you notice any physical damage, such as a cracked crystal or misaligned hands, it’s time to take your watch to a professional. Finally, if your watch has been exposed to water or moisture and is not specifically designed to be water-resistant, professional servicing is necessary.

Importance of Regular Watch Servicing

Regular servicing ensures that any potential issues are detected and addressed early, maintaining the watch’s performance and extending its lifespan. A professional watchmaker can clean, lubricate, and adjust the mechanism, replace worn-out parts, and ensure the watch’s water resistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I shake or wind my automatic watch?

If you wear your watch daily, it should maintain its power reserve from your natural movements. If you don’t, it’s recommended to manually wind it about once every two weeks.

Can I over-wind my automatic watch?

Most modern automatic watches are designed to prevent over-winding, thanks to a mechanism that disengages the winding process once the mainspring is fully wound. However, it’s always best to stop winding as soon as you feel resistance.

Can automatic watches last a lifetime?

With proper care and regular servicing, an automatic watch can indeed last a lifetime, even becoming an heirloom to pass down through generations.


The intricacies of automatic watches have often led to misconceptions, one being that shaking can damage these timepieces. As we’ve clarified, automatic watches are engineered to withstand normal daily movement, including gentle shaking. However, avoid exposing your watch to excessive forces or shocks to ensure its longevity.

Maintaining an automatic watch goes beyond just being cautious about shaking. Regular cleaning, protection from water and extreme temperatures, and routine professional servicing all contribute to the health and longevity of your timepiece. The world of automatic watches is one of precision and care, and with a good understanding of these principles, you can ensure your timepiece keeps ticking beautifully for years if not generations to come.

Steve, a dedicated watch aficionado who delves into the intricate world of automatic timekeeping. Drawing from his engineering background, he unravels the technical marvels that power self-winding watches. Steve's fascination was kindled during his travels to Swiss watchmaking hubs, where he gained insights into the synergy of art and mechanics. Through his writing, he brings to light the wonders of these perpetual-motion masterpieces.

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