Automatic Vs. Kinetic Watches

By Michael Staton

All watches tell time, but some function in different ways. Automatic and kinetic watches represent two different eras of watch manufacturing and two different approaches to reaching one desired effect.

History of Automatic Watches

Before the invention of the automatic watch, all watches had to be wound. According to Watches.net, the first automatic watch was invented by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet in 1770. This invention was a true watershed in the history of watchmaking, as almost every watch for the next 300 years could be classified as an automatic watch.

How Automatic Watches Work

In a way, automatic watches work whenever the wearer does. According to Ed Hahn of Timezone.com, automatic watches work by the motion of the watch's internal rotor, which moves whenever the watch and person wearing it move. This rotary motion then winds the mainspring in the watch and causes it to continue ticking.

History of Kinetic Watches

According to Street Directory.com, the first kinetic watch was introduced in Germany by Seiko, a Japanese manufacturer, in 1988. The site goes on to explain that the watches were first called "Auto-Quartz," but the name was changed to "Kinetic" by Seiko in 1997.

How Kinetic Watches Differ

Kinetic watches function similarly to automatic watches. A guide to watches furnished by Kohls explains that a person's movements powers both kinetic and automatic watches, but the process is vastly different. Instead of powering a rotor, kinetic watches have a swinging weight that charges a piece of quartz that vibrates and holds a steady frequency. Once this electrical charge is created, a kinetic watch stores energy in a capacitor.

Benefits of Both Watches

There are benefits to both watches. According to Street Directory.com, kinetic watches need little to no attention, never need winding and are environmentally friendly. However, Kohls points out that automatic watches can be considered more of a novelty and with proper care they can last as long as desired.