Wind-up Watches vs. Battery Powered: Pros & Cons

man winding a wrist watch on his arm

Wind-up watches vs. battery powered watches has been an ongoing debate since battery powered watches were invented. There is no definitive answer - each kind of watch offers both its pros and cons and the perfect watch for you will depend on your taste and needs in a timepiece.

Difference Between Wind-Up Watches vs. Battery Powered

What is the difference? Well, a wind-up watch, as denoted by the name requires winding by the wearer while a battery powered watch simply uses a small watch battery that can be purchased at any watch dealer, major department stores, on the Internet or at some jewelry stores.


The pros and cons of wind-ups are in some cases obvious and other times not quite so clear-cut.


  • You never have to worry about tedious watch replacement.
  • Most wind-up watches are automatic and use your body's energy to recharge for superior convenience.
  • The time kept by a self-winding watch is generally considered to be much more reliable.


  • If you forget to wind a non-automatic winding watch, you lose the time and have to reset.
  • Self-winding watches that operate using your body's natural energy will stop when taken off - this is not a plus if you switch watches regularly.
  • Automatic watches are often much more expensive though they generally provide most of the same functions.

Battery Powered

woman wearing silver wrist watch

It seems easy enough to have a watch that operates using a battery and most watches work this way. However, some of the unseen factors may be:

  • Buying a battery on short notice or on a vacation may be very difficult or in some cases, not possible at all.
  • Batteries for some watches can be hard to find and may have to be ordered directly from the seller or manufacturer.
  • Removing the back plate for replacement of a battery on jewelry watches can be difficult and if not done by a professional can result in damage to the watch.
  • An older battery powered watch may use a type of battery that is no longer in production or that can be extremely difficult to hunt down.

Which is the Type of Watch For You?

Depending on what seems easiest to you, wind-up watches vs. battery powered watches is an argument of opinion and not necessarily of facts and figures. Oftentimes, a winding watch can be more expensive, but this is not always the case.

Makers of Self-Winding Watches

The following are some of the most popular names in self-winding watches:

  • Rolex
  • Fossil
  • Omega
  • ChronoSwiss
  • Swiss Army
  • Bvlgari

Some of the most popular brands of battery powered wrist watches are:

  • Casio
  • Timex
  • Seiko (Seiko was the maker of the world's first battery powered watch.)
  • Citizen
  • Cartier
  • Breitling

An Alternative: Solar Watches

Aside from battery powered and self-winding watches, there are also solar powered watches. These watches work by reserving the energy from just about any source of light and therefore never need to have a change of battery or a need to be wound. When not in the presence of light, these types of watches conserve the energy they have stored.

Solar Watch Makers

Solar powered watches are not new, but they are catching on now as a trend more than ever before. Some of the most celebrated names in solar watch designers are:

  • Invicta
  • Luminox
  • Polar
  • Tag Heuer
  • Casio (The Atomic Tough Solar Collection for men and women)
  • Wenger
  • Timex
  • Mio

Which Makes the Best Gift?

If you are planning on giving a friend or loved one a watch as a gift, you will want to decide whether a battery powered watch or a winding watch is the best option for them. Generally, battery powered watches are the choice for most gift timepieces; however, if you are choosing from designer watches, chances are your selection will be a self winding watch. If your selection for a significant other is one of many high-end jewelry watches, chances are that the timepiece will be quartz battery-operated.

Wind-up Watches vs. Battery Powered: Pros & Cons