If you are new to the world of watches, you will know that familiarizing yourself with the different terms can be quite a difficult task, especially since there is a certain jargon used in horology. Regardless, one of the first things you need to learn is the difference between automatic and quartz timepieces. Quartz timepieces are powered by batteries while automatic watches are equipped with self-winding springs. Being able to differentiate between these two types of timekeepers will allow you to better understand the anatomy of a watch and how it works. While quartz models are unparalleled when it comes to accuracy, a good percentage of the best watches out there are actually driven by automatic movements. With that being said, we have curated a list of the best automatic watches that are worth your while!
25 Best Automatic Watches
Here’s our list of the best automatic watches available right now.
1. Seiko 5
Though this collection from Seiko cannot quite compete when you put it head to head with the others on this list, that is also not the only way we grade watches. Instead, we also often look at whether a watch is a “bang for your buck”, or how much value that piece has. When you take that approach, the Seiko 5 immediately reveals itself to be an exceptional timepiece. This collection breaks the mould by delivering high-quality and durable automatic watches at surprisingly low prices, making it a fantastic choice for budget shoppers.
2. Tissot Powermatic
The Tissot Powermatic is an automatic watch that we have a soft spot for. It has a minimalist style, makes use of luxurious and expensive materials, and is just a joy to wear. As an added bonus, it sports an impressive 80-hour power reserve, which beats out many of the pricier options on this list. That feature makes this timepiece easy to use, as you can put it down for a couple of days and not have to reset it when you decide to wear it again.
3. Oris Aquis
If you want to get an automatic watch that is a bit more expensive, then Oris is a natural step up. This Swiss manufacturer has an excellent reputation in the watch world and will not let you down. The Oris Aquis is an automatic dive watch collection that gives you a ton of options to choose from. Whether you like your timepieces big, small, minimalistic, or complex, this collection will be able to meet your needs. We especially love the Oris Aquis Date Ref. 01 733 7732 4157-07 8 21 05PEB, a charming green dial and bezel model which looks quite a bit like the famous Rolex “Hulk” Submariner.
4. Longines Master
The Longines Master is another collection that we have a special affinity for. If you want to buy an automatic watch that comes with serious craftsmanship and an elegant aesthetic, then look no further. While this collection is very diverse, we recommend you take a look at the moon phase options first. There is just something so attractive and alluring about these automatic timepieces. Minimalist shoppers will also be happy to find that many of the automatic models in this collection sport clean, uncluttered dials.
5. Tudor Black Bay
One of the most sought-after watches in the world is the Rolex Submariner. While that piece is certainly fantastic, buyers often have to wait years to get one or pay for them at a premium. If you want a luxury automatic diver, but do not want to jump through hoops, the Tudor Black Bay is a great option. Tudor is a sister company of Rolex, and they have created some truly amazing products over the years, with this model being their best seller.
6. Omega Speedmaster
The Omega Speedmaster is often called the “Moon Watch”, as it was on the wrists of the first astronauts that went to the moon. Trivia aside, this automatic watch is a fantastic deal and one of the premier icons in the horology world today. It is one of those products that you can order without any stress or fear, given its reputation and its tendency to appreciate in value.
7. IWC Pilot’s Watch
IWC is quietly one of the top watch brands in the world, and the IWC Pilot collection is a bestseller of theirs. Consumers especially love the quality and the sturdiness of the materials used in IWC watches, along with everything else that IWC has to offer. Another advantage is that they come at multiple price ranges. Those of you who want to spend a little less can get an entry-level automatic Pilot, while big spenders can go for the more expensive IWC Big Pilot.
8. Rolex Submariner
You know this watch is truly iconic when we mention it twice in the article before it even comes up as an entry. That is the power of the Rolex Submariner, which may be the most in-demand timepiece on the market. It is not just hype, though, as this automatic model has top-tier Swiss craftsmanship and aesthetics that impress. Simply put, you cannot go wrong with the Submariner.
9. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon
Audemars Piguet is one of the most well-established luxury brands in the watchmaking industry. With over a century of experience, they have managed to gain a stellar reputation — thanks to the high-level craftsmanship shown in each timepiece they release. Considering their status, it is only expected that they offer their own range of quality automatic watches. In fact, their iconic Royal Oak collection is actually home to some of the best self-winding models out there. The AP Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon boasts both a gorgeous design and impressive specifications, such as a flying tourbillon function and a 65-hour power reserve. On the whole, it serves as an elegant automatic watch for all luxury watch enthusiasts.
10. Bell & Ross 03-92 Heritage
If we are talking about classy and avant-garde timepieces, Bell & Ross should definitely be one of the first brands you check out. They have a wide selection of unique models that come with excellent functions. The best thing about this brand is how they make sure that both the technical and creative aspects of watchmaking are always aligned and consistent, which is something clearly evident in all their models. The BR 03-92 Heritage, for example, is a great automatic watch with such a distinct design. The model’s robust exterior is complemented by its first-class features like a time-setting with hacking function and a 40-hour power reserve. It is the perfect self-winding watch for those who like sophisticated yet tough-looking pieces.
11. Seiko Presage SRPG05J1
Even if you are not exactly familiar with the watchmaking world, you have probably heard of Seiko at least once in your life. They are one of the most popular and respected brands in the market — thanks to their expertise in Japanese craftsmanship. Seiko is also home to numerous collections with excellent automatic watches. Their Presage collection has its fair share of quality self-winding models, with the SRPG05J1 being one of many outstanding automatic pieces. It is equipped with a caliber 4R35 and has a power reserve of up to 41 hours. If you want a well-crafted automatic watch, then make sure to check out the Seiko Presage line as well!
12. Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto
Many of us know Hamilton as the brand loved by the big screen because of the countless appearances of their watches in films. There is just something about their timepieces that make for perfect companions to protagonists and other characters. While this proves their creativity and striking looks, Hamilton watches are not just about aesthetics. In fact, their current catalogue consists of pieces with impressive specifications, functions, and features. One of their best automatic watches is the Khaki Field Murph Auto, which was actually featured in the film Interstellar. It is equipped with an H-10 caliber that follows a three-hand movement and has a whopping 80-hour power reserve. This timepiece is a must-have for those who like self-winding models with classic exteriors.
13. Breitling Superocean Automatic 36
Breitling is another highly-regarded manufacturer with over a century of experience under its belt. They are known as pioneers in the industry especially given their expertise in crafting certain watch complications. While their claim to fame may be their chronographs, the brand also has an exceptional portfolio of automatic watches such as the Breitling Superocean collection, which primarily consists of diving models. The Superocean Automatic 36, for example, is driven by an automatic Breitling 17 caliber which boasts an excellent power reserve of approximately 38 hours. If you’re looking for a solid automatic diving watch, then do not miss out on the Superocean Automatic!
14. Bulgari Octo Finissimo
Bulgari is a well-respected jeweler and watch manufacturer in the luxury world. While all their products are of the utmost quality and elegance, the timepieces they offer are on another level of stunning and technical. Through their knowledge of stones and jewels, they are able to create statement pieces that boast high performance as well. For example, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is one of their most popular timepieces. This particular model is an automatic watch, equipped with their BVL138 Finissimo caliber, with a power reserve of 60 hours. However, the most interesting part about it is that the aforementioned calibre is actually known as the thinnest automatic movement in the world. If you want a gorgeous and equally complex self-winding watch, then the Bulgari Octo Finissimo is just the right one for you!
15. Timex Waterbury Traditional Automatic
While most of the recommendations on this list are from luxury manufacturers, some mass-market brands out there also offer excellent automatic watches. Timex, for one, is a company best known for its affordable and accessible timepieces. They are a popular go-to for many, especially the youthful audiences, because of the easygoing aesthetics their watches possess. One of their best self-winding models is the Waterbury Traditional Automatic which serves as a tribute to the first few Timex timepieces ever made. Since the brand had already been utilizing automatic calibers way back then, they opted to go with an improved version of said movements for the Waterbury Traditional Automatic. This automatic watch is perfect for those who want a casual, vintage-inspired piece that will not break the bank.
16. Patek Philippe Nautilus 7118/1A
When it comes to Haute Horlogerie, one name that will surely pop up is Patek Philippe. They are home to many of the most sought-after and expensive timepieces in the market. Patek Philippe has a rather untouchable reputation — thanks to its rich history and mastery of the watchmaking craft. With all that being said, it is no surprise that they also have some of the best automatic watches out there. For example, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 7118/1A, also known as the Ladies Automatic Nautilus, is driven by a powerful self-winding movement with a 45-hour power reserve and 29 jewels. With its sophisticated aesthetics and well-crafted caliber, this automatic timepiece is a great investment for all the ladies who enjoy luxury watches.
17. Victorinox Alliance Mechanical
Victorinox is known for offering high-quality products that boast excellent Swiss craftsmanship. Despite being late bloomers in the watchmaking industry, their expertise in metals and mechanics has allowed them to create outstanding timepieces. When it comes to automatic watches, a lesser-known but still great model is the Victorinox Alliance Mechanical. This Victorinox Alliance timepiece is a very classic-looking watch with contemporary features. It is equipped with an automatic ETA 2892 caliber and has a power reserve of up to 42 hours. If you are looking for something quintessential yet robust, then you should definitely check out the Alliance Mechanical.
18. Mido Ocean Star 200C
Mido is a Swiss brand best known for its pieces inspired by architecture. In fact, the iconic Mido Multifort is a mechanical watch based on famous structures, namely the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Roman Colosseum. This is also one of the few watch manufacturers that can balance design and functionality perfectly. Aside from the Multifort, another renowned line they have is the Ocean Star, which came out in the 1950s. It is one of their flagship collections at present and it consists mostly of automatic watches. The Ocean Star 200C, in particular, is equipped with the Automatic Mido Caliber 80 which has date-day functions and an impressive 80-hour power reserve. If you’re looking for a self-winding timepiece that is perfect for underwater activities, then the Mido Ocean Star is a great option!
19. Bulova 96A246 Men’s Classic
Bulova is an American watch company with a very colorful and rich heritage. Since their founding in 1875, they have accumulated numerous milestones which have cemented their reputation as a premium brand. They also offer a vast selection of timepieces with different designs, functions, and specifications. One of the best automatic watches they have is the 96A246 Men’s Classic, also known as the Hack Watch. It is a vintage-inspired model based on the brand’s history with the military. Moreover, it is driven by a three-hand, automatic movement with 21 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve. This automatic timepiece is definitely recommended to those who want a self-winding watch with retro aesthetics.
20. Certina DS Action GMT
Certina is a Swiss watch brand best known for its DS Concept technology. Its name stands for “double security”, which essentially means that they make use of especially sturdy and robust components for their timepieces. This shows how much the brand upholds reliability and precision which is clearly reflected in their current catalogue as well. While they have a lot of great automatic watches, the DS Action GMT serves as one of the best models they offer and is definitely worth the price. It is driven by a Powermatic 80.661 calibre with a multiple timezone mechanism and an impressive power reserve of 80 hours. This is perfect for those who want a casual yet multi-functional self-winding watch.
21. Panerai Luminor Marina
Panerai is a watch brand known for its genius fusion of Italian aesthetics, Swiss craftsmanship, and enthusiasm for the ocean. These serve as the main foundation of the brand, which they are able to execute well with every piece. Panerai also makes their own in-house movements, which boast different, avant-garde complications. This particular Luminor Marina, for example, is an automatic watch powered by their P.9010 caliber. It is made of 200 components and 31 jewels, with a power reserve of up to 72 hours. If you are looking for a sophisticated, distinct, and robust self-winding watch, then this model should definitely be on your list.
22. TAG Heuer Monaco Automatic
TAG Heuer is one of the most established luxury watch brands in the industry. They have a rich heritage involving automotive sports, which is evident in many of their collections. Aside from that, they are also known for showcasing highly precise and excellent Swiss craftsmanship. In fact, they offer some of the best automatic watches out there, such as the TAG Heuer Monaco. This is a very modern and distinct piece that is powered by their Caliber 02 automatic chronograph movement, with an 80-hour power reserve. If you want a sporty and striking self-winding watch, then do not miss out on the TAG Heuer Monaco!
23. Longines Heritage Classic
Longines is another brand with an established history behind them. Since the very beginning, they have been known for creating impressive time-telling instruments primarily used in competitions. This helped in cementing their reputation as a trusted partner of different figures in the world of sports, which has also become the backbone of their company’s name. As expected from a manufacturer driven by the desire to innovate, their current catalogue consists of well-crafted timepieces that boast high levels of accuracy and functionality. Of course, they also offer their fair share of excellent automatic watches. Their Longines Heritage collection, for example, consists of self-winding models with quintessential aesthetics. Each timepiece in this collection is driven by the brand’s automatic L893 movement and has an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. This is definitely a must-have for those who want a classic, vintage-inspired automatic watch!
24. Rado Captain Cook Automatic
Rado is another Swiss brand that has mastered the art of balancing creativity and functionality. They have a lot of innovative designs with impressive specifications, thanks to their expertise in watch technology. Rado currently offers a gorgeous selection of automatic watches, such as the Captain Cook Automatic, which gives off a very vintage aesthetic. Following a self-winding movement, it also boasts a whopping 80-hour power reserve.
25. Orient Mechanical Contemporary
Lastly, we have Orient, which is a Japanese company best known for its selection of classic and traditional timepieces. Their goal is to provide timeless models that are bound to last a long time, which is very on-brand for them. An example of this would be their Mechanical Contemporary Watch which is a perfect mix of classy and dependable. It is powered by a Japan-made automatic movement with 21 jewels and 221600 vph. On the whole, Orient is probably a go-to brand if you are looking for quintessential automatic watches that come at relatively affordable prices.
Why Go For An Automatic Watch?
No Battery Required
Since automatic watches are designed to wind themselves automatically, it follows that they do not need a battery to operate. You will not wake up one day to find the watch battery drained on the morning of an important business meeting. Basically, you do not have to worry at all about having to replace the batteries every now and then with an automatic watch, which makes them very convenient indeed.
Automatic timepieces fare well where accuracy is concerned. A standard automatic watch will clock in at plus or minus 25 seconds with respect to the actual time, which you will agree is not too bad. Of course, this will depend on who is wearing it, or rather, what you want to use the watch for. If you are in the medical, marine, or military sector, then naturally every second counts. In such cases, rather than an automatic watch, you would probably need a timepiece that is extremely accurate, such as a chronometer from Ulysse Nardin.
No Hand Winding Necessary if Worn Regularly
If you wear your automatic watch all the time, you will never have to manually wind it, which makes it very convenient. Your automatic piece will simply wind itself with the motion of your hand as you go about your daily routine.
Just the craftsmanship alone incorporated in automatic watches is sheer genius, not to mention the engineering. This makes them some of the most aesthetically pleasing watches on the market. A simple look at the Rolex GMT Master II confirms this.
To add to the stunning aesthetics, these automatic watches boast smooth and suave hand movements. The smooth movement of the hands is even more pronounced if you pick an automatic watch with high beats per second (BPH). A high BPH can also increase the reliability of an automatic timepiece. This is something you will appreciate if your taste in watches goes beyond the aesthetic appeal.
High Power Reserve
Automatic watches have a high power reserve—particularly if they are fully wound. An automatic model can have up to 42 hours of power stored before you need to wind it up again. Depending on the brand you pick, some automatic watches can even store up to 10 days of power.
Automatic watches are generally easy to maintain. By using a soft cloth to wipe your watch every night, you will have it looking as good as new for years. But this does not eliminate the need to handle it with caution. Like any other watch, avoid showering or bathing with your automatic timepiece, even if it is waterproof. Exposing your automatic watch to water will result in the gasket expanding, which reduces the watch’s accuracy and overall lifespan.
While quartz, mechanical, and automatic watches all have their fair share of pros and cons, self-winding timepieces remain a staple for many. There are countless options available and this list is merely a glimpse at some of the best automatic watches in the market. With the diversity of options available, regardless of your personal preferences, you are bound to find the right automatic watch just for you!
If this got you interested in watches, make sure to check out our article on the Iconic Seiko SARB017!
Photo Credits: Official Watch Websites