Should I Stop My Watch When Not in Use?

Watches serve as more than just timekeeping devices; they often carry sentimental, aesthetic, or functional value. Understanding the proper care for these prized possessions, particularly when they are not in use, is crucial. Most people wonder if they should stop their watches when not being used, with opinions varying widely based on the watch type, design, and technology.

The answer to this question isn’t straightforward. The decision to halt your watch when not in use largely depends on the type of watch you own, how often you use it, and how you prefer to maintain it. Stopping a watch can conserve power and minimize wear, but it might also lead to other maintenance needs.

Unraveling the intricacies of watch maintenance, this article aims to shed light on whether or not you should stop your watch when it’s not in use. The focus will be on mechanical and quartz watches, as these are the most common types.

Understanding How Watches Work

Before addressing whether or not to stop a watch, it’s beneficial to comprehend how watches work. Although the primary function of a watch is to tell time, the mechanisms behind this simple operation can be complex.

Basic Components of a Watch

A watch typically comprises the case, dial, hands, band, and the most critical component, the movement or caliber. This latter part is the “engine” that powers the watch, determining its functionality and features.

How Mechanical and Quartz Watches Function

Mechanical watches, including manual and automatic types, operate through a finely tuned series of gears and springs. Quartz watches, on the other hand, run on a battery and use a quartz crystal to keep time. While quartz watches require battery replacements, mechanical watches demand regular winding (manual) or movement (automatic) to stay powered.

What Happens When You Stop a Watch?

Stopping a watch effectively means halting its operation, which impacts differently on mechanical and quartz watches.

Effects of Stopping a Watch: For Mechanical and Quartz Watches

When a mechanical watch is stopped, the mainspring unwinds completely, causing the watch to halt. On the other hand, stopping a quartz watch usually involves pulling out the crown to conserve battery life.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks

Stopping a watch can prolong its lifespan by reducing wear and tear. Quartz watches, it can extend battery life. However, stopping a mechanical watch may require more frequent servicing, as lubricants can coagulate over time without regular use.

Should I Stop My Mechanical Watch When Not In Use?

Mechanical watches are delicate devices where each part plays a crucial role in timekeeping.

Benefits of Stopping a Mechanical Watch When Not in Use

The primary advantage of stopping a mechanical watch when not in use is the reduction of wear on the movement. Also, it conserves the power reserve, preventing the watch from stopping unexpectedly.

Possible Downsides and Precautions

However, stopping a mechanical watch for extended periods may result in the thickening of lubricants, affecting the watch’s performance. Hence, even if stopped, mechanical watches should be wound and operated periodically.

Should I Stop My Quartz Watch When Not In Use?

Quartz watches, powered by batteries and quartz crystals, function differently from mechanical watches.

Benefits of Stopping a Quartz Watch When Not in Use

The primary benefit of stopping a quartz watch is to conserve battery life. This practice can be particularly useful for watches that are used infrequently.

Possible Downsides and Precautions

drawbacks compared to mechanical watches, it’s worth noting that repeatedly pulling out the crown can risk damaging the stem.

Expert Opinions on Stopping Watches

Expert opinions on stopping watches when not in use are mixed. However, most agree that the watch type and usage patterns should inform this decision.

Views from Watchmakers and Industry Experts on Stopping Watches

Most watchmakers suggest that regular use or at least periodic operation is beneficial for both mechanical and quartz watches. For quartz watches, this might simply mean running the watch until the battery needs replacement.

For mechanical watches that aren’t used regularly, experts generally recommend stopping the watch. The same applies to quartz watches that are infrequently used, as stopping them can extend battery life.

For frequently used watches, stopping them isn’t generally recommended. Daily wear mechanical watches should be kept running for optimal performance. Quartz watches, too, can run continuously until the battery needs replacement.

How to Properly Store Your Watch When Not In Use

Proper storage is critical for maintaining your watch’s health, regardless of whether it’s running or stopped.

Watches should be stored in a dry, temperature-controlled environment, away from magnetic fields. Mechanical watches should ideally be kept in watch winders when not in use for extended periods. This device keeps the watch running, thereby ensuring the lubricants do not solidify.

How to Prevent Damage and Maintain Watch Health Over Time

Regular servicing is vital for both mechanical and quartz watches. For mechanical watches, this often involves cleaning, oiling, and parts replacement. Quartz watches typically require battery changes and checks for component integrity.

FAQ: Stopping and Storing Watches

This section aims to address common queries about stopping and storing watches.

Does Stopping a Watch Extend Its Life?

Stopping a watch can reduce wear and tear, potentially extending its life. However, proper care, regular servicing, and appropriate usage arguably have a more significant impact on a watch’s lifespan.

How Can I Store My Watch Safely for Long Periods?

A watch should be stored in a cool, dry place, ideally in its original case or a watch box. Mechanical watches can be stored in watch winders, while quartz watches should have their crowns pulled out if they won’t be used for an extended period.


To stop or not to stop your watch when not in use is largely a matter of personal preference and dependent on the type of watch. For mechanical watches, if they’re not in use for a considerable time, stopping them can reduce wear on the movement. For quartz watches, stopping them can conserve battery. However, remember that proper storage and regular maintenance are crucial for ensuring your watch’s longevity, whether stopped or running.

Sherry's editorial journey seamlessly merges with her passion for horology at WatchReflect. As a seasoned editor and watch enthusiast, she curates insightful guides that cater to novices and connoisseurs alike. With a penchant for research and a flair for storytelling, Sherry transforms horological complexities into engaging narratives. Her mission is to illuminate the path for those navigating the multifaceted realm of timekeeping.

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