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Am I ready for an automatic?

Discussion in 'Watches' started by pduds, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. pduds

    pduds Loaded Pockets

    Jul 7, 2013
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    recently caught the 'watch bug' and bought a Citizen Eco-Drive military and have a Victorinox Maverick on the way. Was looking at Seiko 5s since they are inexpensive and seem to get good reviews. only thing is, I tend to like having an accurate timepiece. I set my watch to atomic time once a month, or at least check it for drift. I think the idea of an automatic drifting by 5 seconds a day might bother me, plus with no way to stop the second hand (well, without messing with the movement) I can't synchronize to the atomic clock or work clock.

    so what's the deal with autos? are they for people who just don't need to know the time exactly? I'm not trying to ruffle feathers of auto owners, just genuinely curious. are expensive ones more accurate? was also looking at a Hamilton Khaki if that affects the answer at all.

    I really like the look of the Seiko 5 military (esp the SNZ series); is there a similar watch with quartz movement from Seiko?
  2. CBisch

    CBisch Loaded Pockets

    Jan 9, 2016
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    I have a seiko 5 and I like it a lot, I notice that it tends to drift maybe 1 second a day and definitely a few seconds in a week compared to my atomic digital watches. It's not a problem for me since I only wear it on casual occasions and having it accurate to the minute works for me most of the time. The only bad things I can say about it is that it will run out of power in two days of not being worn and the strap will stay wet for a little while. I keep my watches on rotation so it runs out of power often. It just takes a couple seconds to wind it up manually and another minute to set the date and time (more if I want it exact to the second, you can hold the second hand in place if you want but you'll have to wait a minute for it to sync). All in all I think its a nice automatic watch for 50 bucks but I tend to wear my digital watches more. I really only bring it out if I feel like wearing an analog.
  3. Beneficial

    Beneficial Loaded Pockets

    Jun 21, 2011
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    Seiko 5's can drift as much as 1 minute a day sometimes. It even says in the specs +/-45/s. It's a workhorse movement and not built for accuracy.

    If you want accuracy then i would suggest Bulova Military UHF as it is the most accurate watch ive ever owned but its not automatic.

    For automatic's on the cheaper side.. An Orient would be better than a Seiko 5. So would a Hamilton Khaki but if you start getting into the 2-300 range then your options open up. There are watches which can be 1-2/s a day or so at that range but it is hard to find.

    I prefer automatic's but the quality varies widely and I wouldn't recommend a Seiko 5.
  4. Gary Gross

    Gary Gross Loaded Pockets

    Oct 17, 2015
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    I have a Seiko 5 and I like it but I really prefer a 40mm+ case. It just seems too small on my wrist but that's personal preference. It was my first automatic. I really don't use a watch for precise timekeeping anyway so a little drift doesn't bother me. I invested in a watch winder and currently have 4 automatic watches. Without the winder I probably wouldn't own any because the thought of resetting them each time I wear them just doesn't make the advantage of not buying batteries worthwhile.
  5. The Sixth Beatle

    The Sixth Beatle Loaded Pockets

    Jun 16, 2016
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    I wanted a yellow faced Seiko since I met some Dutch sailors when I was a kid in the 1970's; several of them had Seikos and I thought they were the coolest watches ever when compared to Timex and the like.
    Fast forward to my 50th birthday and my wife bought me one of these :
    I don't care that I have to correct it now and again, it's hardly onerous and I don't need precision in my life that much.
    I'd say go for it, what's the worst that could happen ?
    xrayit and jcombs like this.
  6. jcombs

    jcombs Loaded Pockets

    Jan 31, 2016
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    Autos are a bit more traditional and quartz watches are more accurate, there is more to it than that but basically that's the gist of it. Don't get too hung up on movements, buy what you like and wear it.
    xrayit likes this.
  7. DIlan

    DIlan Loaded Pockets

    May 15, 2014
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    First two bolded things mean that you're still not ready for an automatic. Automatic watches tend to be late and it's far more noticeable than on quartz.
    Deal with automatic watches is in manufacturing and mechanics. Before the digital era, we had to design and manufacture every single small and thin piece of watch mechanism with very high precision and to allow longevity of this mechanism. For engineering standpoint, it is the very complex job to do. So wearing an automatic watch is like an act of appreciation and association with watch history.
  8. Tromba

    Tromba Loaded Pockets

    Jul 9, 2014
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    It's interesting that I can across this thread because I am in the exact same boat as you. I have also been bitten by the watch bug and I have been enjoying the process of educating myself little bit by little bit.

    I received a citizen eco drive radio controlled as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. The only thing is that it is on the dressier side and I have been wanting a field style watch with nylon band as a more casual alternative. I have had my eye on the Seiko SNZ for while, and I saw the earlier thread about the Bulova 96B229 as well.

    I had it in my mind that I wanted an automatic. But after seeing this thread I think for me the Bulova is the way to go. I have become too spoiled by the radio synch to atomic time of my ecodrive and I love having a very precise watch so lucky for me this discussion was had.
    Beneficial likes this.
  9. Jonb74

    Jonb74 Loaded Pockets

    May 9, 2009
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    Some people are OCD about exact minutes and seconds. If that is you, go with a quartz/atomic. However, I would challenge that very little if anything in your life requires that level of accuracy. If you can get by with being off a minute of two, then an auto is good to go.

    I have both and to me there is just something special about an auto. Plus I rotate my watch every 3 or 4 days which requires resetting the autos anyway. Mine don't drift more than a minute or two during that time.
  10. andy3101

    andy3101 Loaded Pockets

    Feb 10, 2016
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    My Automatics drift about 2 seconds per day (+), what I don't care about. It is a minute in 4 weeks. At the end, it is forward the real time, so I am allways in time.
    Sure, if you work for a japanese railway company, it is not exact enough.
    Well, a bit "yes" to the question, if more expensive watches are more accurate. A better movement can better and/or easier be regulated in several positions. At the end, a good mechanic can eliminate this differences to a very low level.
  11. StarBat

    StarBat Loaded Pockets

    Jan 12, 2016
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    I caught the automatic watch bug earlier this year and picked up a Seiko SKX and love it. As I have no need for atomic accuracy and within a couple seconds is good enough for me I have no issues with the possible +/- loss in time each day. I do enjoy the fact that the power comes from your movements and creates a type of bond with the watch and I do enjoy watching the movement work (not the smoothest but I do enjoy a sweep more so then a quartz stutter.

    I did own a Seiko 5 for a few days but I couldn't pull off the smaller size but its all personal preference as to what you enjoy. Only bad thing for me I don't have a winder so if I don't wear the watch for a couple days I have to reset it. Good luck with your choices!
  12. 313

    313 Uber Prepared

    Jul 31, 2006
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    My Seiko 5 loses about 1 minute per month, out-of-the-box, and that's more than enough accurate for me. They can be adjusted if needed. I'd say go with an inexpensive automatic if you're concerned about absolute accuracy, that way you'll have a tough cheap beater available for occasional hard/dirty use if you're otherwise not completely happy with it.
  13. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

    Jun 30, 2015
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    I own three automatics:
    • Seiko 5 Sports. Has a metal bracelet; white face with markers not numerals. 'Gold' accents with overall SS case and bracelet. A bit on the smaller side -- bought it whilst on a project in Asia, but not from a tourist shop. Marketed towards locals, hence the size I think. Had it for about 10 years. I think at the time it cost me about US$80
    • Seiko 5 Sports diver, 'Pepsi' style bezel, blue face, SS bracelet. Larger and heavier than the other one. Only had this one for a few weeks; cost me about US$120
    • Vostok Europa TU-144. Again, SS bracelet; black dial diver. Super heavy tank. I could use it as a weapon... :D Have had it a few years; priced about US$130 IIRC
    Of the three, the two Seikos are much more accurate and steady than the Vostok. Which is not to say that they don't drift. They do. But my life just doesn't revolve around a need for super high accuracy nor precision. The Vostok can gain a minute or two by the end of a week of wear.

    Basically I am not a fan of battery driven quartz watches. In addition to these mechanicals I have a couple of solars. Also a couple of Casios which are battery driven -- one a simple G-shock; one which isn't a G-shock but could be mistaken...

    I say go for the automatic. The Seiko 5 watch series seem to come in an infinite variety. They've been in production for a very long time and other than the inherent drift of an automatic, to steal a phrase from a well known battery company, they just '... keep going and going and going...' For what you pay I think they're a great deal.


    Moshe ben David
  14. mike3145

    mike3145 Loaded Pockets

    Dec 26, 2008
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    Most of us don't need to know the exact time but if being accurate to the second is important to you, then a mechanical watch isn't what you want. Certainly there are movements that can be "hacked" but by the end of the day, they're likely to be off by several seconds. The COSC standard to be certified a Chronometer is -4/+6 seconds per day and there aren't that many certified Chronometers.

    Even a cheap quartz is likely to be more accurate and if you go with a thermocompensated quartz, you're in the sub 10 seconds per year range.

    Guys (and gals) like watches for all kinds of reasons and I can certainly appreciate and admire the engineering and craftsmanship that goes into making such a complex mechanism fit into a tiny space.

    There's a website called Time Zone (one word with the dot com afterwards) that caters to the WIS crowd. Just be careful because watches can become very addictive and you'll end up mortgaging your house and selling your children. <lol>
    Moshe ben David likes this.
  15. Narcosynthesis

    Narcosynthesis Loaded Pockets

    Jul 21, 2009
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    Ultimately all automatic watches are pretty inaccurate when compared against even a cheap quartz watch - as a rough guide a basic automatic movement (such as the 7s26 used in a Seiko 5) is rated to the same accuracy range per day that a quartz watch will run to per month. Even a high end Swiss watches accuracy won't really compare to a basic quartz.

    At the same time, is perfect accuracy ever really that important? Obviously everyone has different needs, but generally I find myself very rarely needing to know the exact time - if I am meeting friends, need to know if I have enough time to get somewhere before it closes or even something more critical like keeping an appointment or meeting I can't say that only knowing the time to the nearest minute rather than the exact second has ever been a problem.
    One thing that may be worth noting with automatic watches is the fairly limited power reserve too - my Seiko's have a (fairly good for an automatic) reserve of about 50 hours when fully wound, so swapping between multiple watches it is fairly common for them to run down and stop - a minor inconvenience to reset, but also a good prod to remind you to set the time correctly.

    As for why automatics still exist? A lot of it is tradition - the early high end watches were all automatic, so stuck with the technology (despite making some higher end quartz, they have never really sold that well), but also a lot of smaller features that people can appreciate - the fact an automatic doesn't need a battery, the way the seconds hand smoothly sweep around rather than ticking, or just that odd enjoyment you get from knowing the case on your wrist is full of whirring gears and springs rather than a faceless circuit board (helped by watches with display backs so you can see some of the moving bits).

    I own both styles of watch, and they both have their own charms - and it does amuse me to see a watch powered by a 15th century technology sitting next to one that resets itself every night to the signal broadcast to an atomic clock accurate to a second every million years (and is also solar powered too, though the slide rule may perhaps let it down a little in the 'modern technology' stakes).

    From what you have said, if accuracy really does bother you that much then an automatic may be more of an annoyance than a benefit to you, but at the same time after a short while you may realise (like many of us have, myself included) that accuracy may not be as important as previously thought, and the slightly irrational appeal of automatic movements is worth investigating.

    If you do want to stick with a quartz, I would definitely recommend the Citizen eco-drives as being great options - something like a BM6400, BM8180 or BV1060 may be of interest as not too far from the Seiko's you mentioned, plus a whole raft of other options I can't remember the names for.
    Moshe ben David likes this.
  16. DCBman

    DCBman Loaded Pockets

    Mar 8, 2014
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    Well, I love watches also, and I have a couple Seiko auto's. I too like accurate time (down to the second) (I work in aviation so seconds and minutes really do count). I have no issues with my Seiko autos, but I do set them regularly. As noted above, most autos will run out of gas in about 48 hours or so if left stationary. I rotate watches as well so having them run flat is fairly common. However, here is a little different perspective on why you may want to consider one...

    A precision timepiece is a love affair with things mechanical. If you just put something on your wrist or in your pocket and never touch it again, well, then it just becomes nothing more than another piece of jewelry. Part of the love affair with a timepiece is the fact it is a living thing. It moves...constantly. Part of the fun of a watch is actually getting to touch it and manipulate it mechanically. Hacking and setting a watch is just this. In many respects I like my mechanical and auto watches better for just this reason. Watch drift is character and personality. It gives you something to do. Once you become familiar with a timepiece you'll know exactly how much it drifts and in which direction. You'll also know roughly when it needs to be adjusted (daily, weekly or monthly).

    On a side note, watches that lose time do bother me. I'd rather have a watch that runs fast than slow. If/when I get one that runs slow I usually take it to a watch smith and have them adjust it to be a little fast. A fast watch takes a little longer to set (to the exact second), but it's just more time you get to play with your timepiece.

    I synch all my watches to NIST (in Boulder, Colorado) down to the second, and I check them daily. It's all part of the fun.
    Thesteve_global likes this.
  17. rbent

    rbent Loaded Pockets

    Jan 1, 2014
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    My daily seiko 5 gets off by about 5 minutes per 7-10 days. I like everything else about it though.
  18. Thesteve_global

    Thesteve_global Loaded Pockets

    May 31, 2015
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    I have a Tag Huere with Calibre 5 and it stays accurate, but I never wear it for more than a day or two. It's a box watch for sure, I wear it to formal occasions. Recently I picked up a Citizen's Chronograph EcoDrive Ti AT. I wear that when I want to look a bit fancier because I normally wear an Apple Watch or a G-Shock. I was fascinated that an analog watch could have integrated Atomic Timekeeping and so far it beats right in line with my Atomic G-Shocks. Maybe this is more up you alley?

    [​IMG] closeup
  19. thatotherguy

    thatotherguy EDC Junkie!!!!!

    Feb 19, 2012
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    I've got a Seiko 5 with the 7s26 movement, an Invicta with the Seiko NH35A movement, and two Vostoks, as well as two Seagull handwind movements in Panerai homages. I used to be obsessed with dead on the money accuracy and would crosscheck my quartz analogs against either my cell phone or, when I got it, my atomic controlled G-shock, but then I got my first automatic (a non-hacking Vostok Komandirskie with a 2416B movement) and realized that it really doesn't matter all that much. Sure, I could do a poor man's hack on both the 7s26 and the 2416B, but what's the point? If I'm looking at a watch, I'm not looking at the seconds hand unless I'm timing my Aeropress for coffee, and in that case, I'm only watching the seconds hand for thirty seconds. I can deal with being a minute or two off after a week or so. Honestly, by the time the watch gets far enough off to be concerning, I've usually already moved to a different watch for a few days anyway.

    Automatics are not for accuracy or even for function. They're complex and much more finicky than quartz watches, and they don't keep time as accurately as a normal quartz watch either. But watch nerds don't buy automatics (or mechanicals in general) for those things. They- we- buy them because we enjoy them. We enjoy knowing that we are the power supply for the little machine on our wrists. We enjoy seeing that seconds hand sweep while we're timing our coffee and knowing that it's working without a battery. We enjoy looking at our watches and knowing that behind that dial is a tiny little mechanical marvel, the result of centuries of watchmaking design, that needs our input to work. You can't get that feeling from a quartz watch, in my opinion. Sure, it's a technological breakthrough and a marvel in its own right, but somehow, without knowing that the watch needs us to function, it feels cold and lifeless.

    I know it sounds asinine and probably more than a little foolish, but I wear a mechanical watch when the mood strikes not because it's easier or more convenient, but because it's magical to me. I use mechanical typewriters and shave with a double edged safety razor, too, so maybe I'm just a sentimental kind of guy.
    DCBman, Beneficial, 313 and 2 others like this.
  20. Theskyiscrying

    Theskyiscrying Loaded Pockets

    Aug 22, 2015
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    This ^^^^^
    and why I wear one of these.... true art and it's accurate to within 1 sec per day :D
    Moshe ben David and thatotherguy like this.