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/Pronunciation: kɪ́jləs ˈwaɪndɪŋ/ 

There was a time when all watches came with a key. Look at the history books of brands that date back to the 18th or 19th century, and you will notice that many pocket watches or grandfather’s clocks had a round hole on the dial. This is where the key would go. The owner of the timepiece is required to wind the watch’s mainspring with this key every day or every other day.

 It was not until the early 1800s that keyless winding was invented by Jean Adrien Philippe, one half of the founding members of Patek Philippe. Instead of winding the movement by a key, Philippe created a watch that had the key perpetually attached to the movement—it was basically the crown.

(Related: The Watch Expert's Guide: Discover The Jargon So Far

So this component now had two uses: to set the time and wind the movement. Simply by gearing the crown stem to a winding mechanism connected directly with the barrel, he made a movement that the wearer could quickly and conveniently wind. This obviously predates the invention of the self-winding mechanism but it’s worth noting that winding the movement via the crown is possible even with self-winding timepieces.

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The Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Vintage 7 Day Power Reserve is a manual-winding watch
that needs to be hand-wound by turning the crown every seven days. 

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The rotor seen via the sapphire case back of the Cintrée Curvex Lady signifies that this is a self-winding watch, 
meaning that the watch is automatically wound by the movement of your wrist.

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This is what the Cintrée Curvex Lady Automatic looks like from the front,
with a diamond-studded case. A stunner, isn't she? 

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The ergonomic crown of the Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex collection is a breeze to manipulate. Here, the watch comes in a stainless steel, moonphase version. 

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The Franck Muller Perpetual Calendar Bi-Retro Chrono CR7 Limited edition features both a perpetual calendar and a chronograph, and all functions can be regulated via the crown. Fun fact: this watch was created specially for Christiano Ronaldo in 2012.  

(Related: Ressence: The Watch That Needs No Crown

Tags: Franck Muller, crown, Tick Talk, jean adrian philippe, Keyless winding