Why Does A Mechanical Watch Make Noise While Worn?

Sven R. from Belgium asks:

Recently I got very interested in automatic / self-winding watches. I've noticed that the cheaper models often make a lot of noise, both ticking and rotor swings. Now I'm wondering if that's normal and what level of noise is "acceptable" for an automatic watch. I there for example a method to tighten everything up?

Few mechanical machines are perfectly quiet. Watch movements are no different. Watch movements pretty much all have a rapid "tic tic tic" sound if you listen closely and some automatic movements might have noticeable noise coming from the automatic rotor as it spins around inside the case. The reason some watches have less noise, is because the case itself muffles a lot of the sound. Cheaper watches have cheaper cases which use brass, versus solid steel cases. Even some very high-end watches that use thin cases are noticeably loud while on the wrist.

Automatic rotors that wind when spinning in just one direction will move freely in the other direction which can result in sound. Most of the time it isn't a problem unless it bothers you. The thicker the case, the less you'll hear any noise coming from the movement. In reality, it isn't an issue with cheap-versus-expensive watches, but really what materials the case is made of. Though, cheaper watch cases tend to transmit sound a lot more. A fix? We don't really know of any, but it isn't technically a problem with the watch.

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  • ZL

    I had wondered about this too 🙂

  • Lesthepom

    I have a Breitling Super Avenger that I think you would need a stethoscope to here but I had a Cartier Tank Francine I could here the rotor on that over the noise of a train so I would go with the case materiel and thickness been a big factor the Cartier annoyed me that much I got rid of it nice watch but it just bugged me