How to Slow Down an Automatic Watch

What Exactly is an Automatic Watch?

Simply put, an automatic watch uses no battery i.e. “quartz” to make all its parts work. It’s purely mechanical where the parts are either manually rigged to turn or automatic by way of complicated gears, dials, etc that all together automate levers and various mechanisms.

Why Does My Automatic Watch Sometimes Run Faster than Normal?

If your watch seems to be running faster than normal, there are several possible reasons:

  1. Dust: sometimes microdust can clog various gears. Air duster cans will easily fix this.
  2. Tangled Coils: there is a phenomenon that happens when there’s movement (wrist) that creates small jots. The coils in your watch get entangled which causes an imbalance between the beat rate and balance wheel’s rotation.
  3. Regulation: to regulate simply means to have control over your watch’s precise movements. Now, this is a little bit more complicated but it’ll be later as you read further.
  4. Temperature Exposure: when exposes to various temperatures from cold to hot, over time your automatic watch’s accuracy can be affected.
  5. Hairspring Magnetized: without getting into needlessly complicated science. When magnetism happens, your watch’s heart i.e. hairspring can be affected resulting in faster or slower (seconds) clock speeds. Sometimes it can also just stop your watch.
  6. Shock and Impact: simply put, due to sudden impact for example you slipped or slammed your wrist to the pavement that it sends a massive shock to your watch’s internal mechanisms affecting everything from the gears, screws, hairspring, balance spring, and more.

2 Ways to Slow Down an Automatic Watch

1) A quick and practical way to slow down an automatic watch: is by placing the watch vertically, be sure that the crown is on top. Many have tried doing this, especially before they sleep at night. So it can help if you put your automatic watch in this position, in the correct direction, on the table beside your bed.

2) Another way is by adjusting the movement of your automatic watch when you notice that it’s running either too fast or too slow. By adjusting the balance wheel to different positions, which had otherwise affected the accuracy of the watch.

Adjusting your Automatic Watch:

How to Slow Down an Automatic Watch

There are multiple ways to slow down an automatic watch. You can start by using basic tools to open your watch’s case or back face then remove its bracelets or you can use free software as well, and use a recording device or the microphone on your laptop to record the fine sounds, the ticking of the escapements on your automatic watch.

Please take note:

  • It is recommended that you do this on entry-level automatic watches, For more expensive watches, it is best to have the speed adjustments done by a professional watch repairman

How to Take off the Case – So You Can Have Access to the Case Back

Tools: you can use a spring bar tool, the fine fork tool to remove the spring bars and to remove the bracelet;

Use a watch case back opener, a tool to remove the back of the case. to reach the escapements or the regulation bar. You can easily buy this tool online Small screwdrivers for case backs held in by simple screws. Or a full screw-in case back.

When you open the case back, take care that you don’t let any debris, dust inside. So keep the case back on.

As you open it, give it a firm but gentle twist, counterclockwise, to access the mechanism of the watch. Remove the back, and you’ll see a small lever closer to you, with the plus and minus sign. Just give it a tiny tap because adjusting this small bar is very sensitive.

Then simply:

  • Take the bar with a toothpick or match, and gently push it. It is best to use something wooden, to avoid the risk of anything magnetic getting near the watch movement; go sideways. Be careful not to poke the balance wheel and the hairspring, as this will spell trouble and major repair.
  • See the regulating bar with the 2 dots. Push the lever to adjust the timing of the watch; rotate the regulating bar to the direction of the minus sign: this is clockwise, and this will slow down the movement of your automatic watch. If you rotate the lever counterclockwise, this will speed up your automatic watch. If this is your first time adjusting it, the watch may start running seconds faster per hour.
  • Remember that the adjustment on the bar must be very subtle… with tiny movements. When you have adjusted the bar, you have to check and see whether it is running better.
  • Push the case back clockwise, then reassemble everything. Close the back. Reset the watch and match the time exactly to the GPS satellite time. As you use your watch for a few days, observe after 24 hours have passed, whether your watch is running fast or slow, and estimate by how many extra seconds. Then you may have to adjust accordingly

If that all seems a bit complicated for you. Here’s the very simple summary. At the back of your watch is a protective case, remove it using specific tools, once you’ve removed the protective case and other layers. You should see, a very simple dial that has a + and – sign. Now simply turn the arrow to the plus (increase speed) or minus (decrease speed) sign. And that’s basically it.

How do you check the speed of your automatic watch and the adjustments you make to your automatic watch?

There are actually smartphone apps, specifically created for automatic watches. You listen to the watch. The app will tell you if your watch is running fast or slow, based on how the mechanism is ticking. Just go to Google Play or App store, and pick one.

Now, there is a more accurate but slightly complicated way and it’s by using Audacity. It’s free software that’s available for most platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux). It’s an audio editor. Here’s the full guide on how to do it, if you get confused, please contact us:

  • So you take your watch; then start recording. Take your watch mechanism, put it onto the microphone of the laptop. It will record the tic-tac of the watch – you will see the audio recording on your laptop.
  • For the audio recording of the back of the watch: crop the audio file. At the start time of 00, you have a watch beat. Count 5 beats per second, so the 6h beat should be 01. Then you crop the audio. What you have here is an audio recording of the back of the watch, the tic-tac of the watch. You can count 1,2,3,4,5 – on the 6th, is the first second. Therefore, there are 5 beats per second. If you record the watch for a minute, if you crop the audio, and if you go down to the end of the minute, you can observe if the beats are winding up with the time.

To figure out how accurate the watch movement is, you need time to see how it plays out.

  • If you recorded for 30 seconds of the watch beating. Load it onto the software, you’ll see it’s not perfectly lined up. Check how far off it is. Zoom in on the area to check in on details you need to see. Select tool, look for a spike, check the difference between that and 30 seconds. If it’s over 30 seconds, this movement is fast.
  • Keep in mind that – the beat has come early, not late. If it came late, it would be slow – here, the movement is fast by .002 seconds, that’s over 30 seconds. This is how you figure out whether your regulator bar is fast or slow.

Now for the final movement and make the adjustments:

  • With this, you can tell whether the watch is going fast or slow. This method is a quick way for you to adjust your automatic watch. You can have it running it after, for plus or minus 2 seconds a day. If the 6th watch beat does not match with the time scale above, all you have to do is to slightly adjust the regulating bar. Record the watch again and make the necessary adjustments.

Some other options:

  • If however, you don’t want to use a computer, you can seal the watch back. Then observe it. Wear your automatic watch for 24 hours, Check your automatic watch against a quartz watch to judge if it is accurate. You can check by trial and error; by using a quartz stopwatch.
  • You can also adjust the timing slightly by overnight setting the watch dial; this may slow down. When you are happy with the accuracy, close the watch back up. Otherwise, you may need to replace the case back gasket

Conclusion: How Do You Slow Down an Automatic Watch

Hey, I just wanted to thank you for reaching all the way here. I know it’s been a bit of a long read but I just wanted to give you as much concise information that could help you. Watches are special to me. “Time is life” as my grandpa would say to me. So as a quick summary of everything that you’ve read; while there are multiple potential issues that could cause the malfunction of a watch but to actually slow down an automatic watch or speed it up, there are three recommended ways.

1) Manual: using some basic tools, you can open your watch’s case from the back. Once inside, there should be a small dial with an arrow, simply turn the arrow to the plus (speed up) or minus (slow down) indicators.

2) Complicated: if you’re looking for really refined accuracy, then simply follow the steps outlined above.

3) Professional Watch Repairman: can be a bit expensive but saves you all the hassle and stress.

Personally, depending on how severe or complicated it gets. I usually just do it the manual way but if it’s something that I haven’t encountered before. I’ll go to a professional watch repairman. It is their profession, their craft. I respect that. Now, again, if you were confused or need help leave a comment.

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