Do Automatic Watches Make Noise?

The short, simple answer is that your automatic watch, even when brand new, makes noise.  Have you seen a picture of the inside of an automatic watch?  Check this out:

Closeup of Automatic Winding Watch Movement
Closeup of Automatic Winding Watch Movement

Automatic Watches are Complex Machines

As you can see, automatic watches are a complex arrangement of gears, levers, and bearings.  Just like any other piece of equipment you can think of with gears, levers, and bearings, your watch will make some noise just from normal operation.  From the friction of the gears to the swooshing of ball bearings in their races, some level of noise is completely normal.  Luxury watches, expensive watches, and watches with thicker cases in general will keep more of the noise inside of the watch and it will be less noticeable to the wearer.

Automatic Men's Watch with Visible Mechanism
Automatic Men’s Watch with Visible Mechanism

Also, even if it appears as if your watch hands sweep, unless you have a very special Grand Seiko watch, the hands in your watch actually tick.  Even if this ticking is not noticeable visibly, it is not silent, and it can contribute to any sound you hear.

Automatic Watch Rattle

Also, as you move your arm or the watch, or if you shake your automatic watch, you may notice that the sound changes a little bit.  This is sometimes referred to as an automatic watch rattle.  Again, this is perfectly normal.  Not only may the orientation of the watch relative to the ground change the way various parts in the watch interact due to gravity, but as your watch ages some parts may become just a little bit more loose than when new.  In fact, some of the rattle that you hear may be from the wrist band or where the watch band interacts with the watch case.

x
Origin of the Watch
Automatic Steel Sports Watch
Automatic Watches Rattle When You Shake Your Wrist

Could The Noise Indicate Damage Inside The Watch?

Indeed, you may have a damaged watch.  However, this is far from certain just because your automatic watch makes noise or rattles when shaken.  If your watch was recently struck, or if you are having other problems such as time or date accuracy, you should certainly get your watch inspected by the manufacturer, retailer, or watchmaker.

You may have read other places online about a rotor axle rubbing inside the watch, and/or about small bits of metal debris interfering with the gears or bearings.  From our point of view, trying to figure out exactly what the problem is with your watch is a bad idea.  Unless you are a watchmaker or skilled watch repair person, you do not want to be opening up your automatic watch.  There is almost zero chance that any problem can be fixed by you!  If your watch isn’t performing well, if the noise has changed or worsened, or if you know your watch endured a rough shock, your best bet is to get the watch to a watch professional for diagnosis and repair.

Watch Repair Should Only be Done by Professionals
Watch Repair Should Only be Done by Professionals

Conclusion 

Automatic watches are complex machines.  Complex machines tend to make noise!  The more expensive the watch, the less of that noise will make it to your ears.  From the ticking of the mechanism, to the bearings zooming around their races to the gears engaging each other, your watch makes noise the entire time it runs.  And that is perfectly okay.

Grand Seiko Watches with Their Unique Spring Drive Movement

Brand
Titanium
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko
Limited Edition
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko
Limited Edition
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Japan Season Special Edition"Taisetsu" The Deep...
Grand Seiko End of Autumn Soko Special Edition SBGA429
Grand Seiko Elegance Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary Limited...
Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Ice Blue Kirazuri Dial Limited...
Part Number
SBGA415
SBGA429
SBGM235
SBGA293
SBGA387
Model
Grand Seiko Japan Season Special Edition"Taisetsu" The Deep...
Grand Seiko End of Autumn Soko Special Edition SBGA429
Grand Seiko Elegance Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary Limited...
Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Ice Blue Kirazuri Dial Limited...
Band Material
Titanium
Stainless Steel
Leather
Crocodile
Stainless Steel
Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Three-fold clasp with Push Button Release
Deployment Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Movement
Spring Drive Japanese-Automatic
Spring Drive, Cal 9R65
Automatic with Manual Winding Capacity
Spring Drive, Cal 9R65
Mechanical Spring Drive
Features
Taisetsu: The Deep Snow of Winter mother-of-pearl
Green accent colors featured on the seconds hand and power reserve indicator epitomize the life of the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto in its peak season at the end of Autumn
20th Anniversary Limited Edition
Power reserve display, Case back with lion emblem
Limited Edition of 558 Pieces; Kirazuri Painted Blue
ASIN
B084C5RDFZ
B08J4HV3MP
B07RWKZ95J
B08LP5Y7G6
B0831K9ZCJ
Titanium
Brand
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Japan Season Special Edition"Taisetsu" The Deep...
Part Number
SBGA415
Model
Grand Seiko Japan Season Special Edition"Taisetsu" The Deep...
Band Material
Titanium
Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Movement
Spring Drive Japanese-Automatic
Features
Taisetsu: The Deep Snow of Winter mother-of-pearl
ASIN
B084C5RDFZ
Brand
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko End of Autumn Soko Special Edition SBGA429
Part Number
SBGA429
Model
Grand Seiko End of Autumn Soko Special Edition SBGA429
Band Material
Stainless Steel
Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Movement
Spring Drive, Cal 9R65
Features
Green accent colors featured on the seconds hand and power reserve indicator epitomize the life of the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto in its peak season at the end of Autumn
ASIN
B08J4HV3MP
Limited Edition
Brand
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Elegance Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary Limited...
Part Number
SBGM235
Model
Grand Seiko Elegance Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary Limited...
Band Material
Leather
Clasp
Three-fold clasp with Push Button Release
Movement
Automatic with Manual Winding Capacity
Features
20th Anniversary Limited Edition
ASIN
B07RWKZ95J
Brand
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293
Part Number
SBGA293
Model
Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293
Band Material
Crocodile
Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Movement
Spring Drive, Cal 9R65
Features
Power reserve display, Case back with lion emblem
ASIN
B08LP5Y7G6
Limited Edition
Brand
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Ice Blue Kirazuri Dial Limited...
Part Number
SBGA387
Model
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Ice Blue Kirazuri Dial Limited...
Band Material
Stainless Steel
Clasp
Deployment Clasp
Movement
Mechanical Spring Drive
Features
Limited Edition of 558 Pieces; Kirazuri Painted Blue
ASIN
B0831K9ZCJ