What is a mechanical watch? This is a common question for first time watch buyers.
Does this mean it’s automatic? Do all watches have quartz in them?
Watch lingo is often tossed around like jigsaw pieces on websites and blogs creating confusion around a relatively simple topic. A clear explanation explaining watch types can help to make buying a watch as painless as possible.
Putting the Puzzle Together
First thing's first. A watch movement, whether mechanical or quartz, is the mechanism that allows a watch to keep time. Simply put, the movement of a watch is equivalent to that of an engine for an automobile.
A mechanical watch does not run on battery power and can be one of two types: manual and automatic.
What's the difference?
- A manual mechanical watch must be self-wound (via the crown) in order to reserve power, whereas an automatic mechanical watch operates on the energy reserved in the main spring through the movements of its wearer. Some automatic mechanical movements, however, can also be manually wound.
- The amount of winding a manual watch needs is dependent upon the make: some once a day; others, once every two days, etc.
- In an automatic watch, the weighted rotor moves as its wearer does. This is usually visible through an exhibition style case back.
A mechanical watch is viewed as a work of art. For this reason, mechanical watches may be priced fairly high in comparison with their quartz counterpart but this is not a drawback for males that take serious pride in their jewelry. Additionally, their practicality may be the very thing that interests a buyer. No battery. Eco-friendly. Simplistic. What’s not to like?
Did you know?
Quartz movements are battery-powered movements.
- The most common advantage to a quartz movement is the accuracy in time (within .5 seconds per day).
- Conversely, a mechanical movement is within 30 seconds per day.
The onset of quartz watches in the 1970’s allowed watchmakers to capitalize on the lower production costs associated with economies of scale due to quartz technology. This "new" technology did not affect all watchmakers—Orient being one of them. Consistent in their approach, Orient has remained true to their initial competencies of envisioning and creating spectacular mechanical watches with in-house movements since their inception.
Time is… Beauty?
This is a literal statement for horologists who spend countless hours perfecting the numerous elements contained in a mechanical watch. This is what fuels consumer (and collector) appeal. The level of workmanship and design usually exceeds that found in your everyday quartz watch. One of the coolest things about a mechanical watch is that it feels alive. A glance at the exhibition style case back reveals a furiously oscillating balance wheel, which resembles the heartbeat of the watch.
Aside from their brilliant micro mechanical design, mechanical watches embody a soul. Similar to unique ships and airplanes, this added character can make all the difference as seen in the Orient CFT00004B (automatic mechanical movement) below.
Orient CFT00004B ($299 at Amazon.com)
…Compared with the Casio Edifice #EQWM1000DB-1 (quartz movement)
Casio Edifice #EQWM1000DB-1 ($337.50 at Amazon.com)
Although the quartz Casio is more expensive, the visibility of the Orient CFT00004B gears and weighted rotor make the watch more inviting to the eye allowing the owner to appreciate what they have paid for.
This is the aesthetic benefit of a mechanical watch that trumps the accuracy issues.
For a ‘hands on’ explanation about the differences between manual, automatic and quartz watches take a look at David from Ashton Blakey Vintage Watches.
The difference between watch types is fairly straightforward. Preference is key when deciding which movement to pursue that ensures a nice fit for your lifestyle. Each type has its benefits. In today’s society, the mechanical watch has proved to be a popular choice for those wanting a combination of user-friendliness and stylish designs in addition to being collectible in nature.
The choice is yours to make...just make sure you’re on time.
What’s your favorite type of watch movement? Comment Below.