When purchasing a watch, the average person might not realize that all watches are not made the same. The different types are categorized by how they are constructed and what powers them. Let’s dive into the specificities of Automatic and Mechanical watches and how your personal preference plays a large role in which design you choose.
Mechanical Watches: The Tried and True
The first Mechanical watch was invented in the 16th century and has been the backbone of watch invention throughout the years. If you are a watch aficionado, this craftsmanship is for you. Mechanical watches are usually used for high-end watchmaking (check this daniel wellington watch). You can spot them by one specific feature, their slow sweeping second hand. Inside the watch, there is a wound spring, the mainspring, that slowly unwinds to create the second hand’s sweeping motion. Turning the crown on the side of the watch winds up the mainspring and keeps time. When first invented, they only lasted a day before needing to be rewound, now Mechanical watches can last days to weeks at a time. These watches are best for someone interested in the micromechanics of how watches are powered. Options such as transparent cases allow the owner to view the watch gears moving, without extra parts, such as rotors, blocking the intricate design. The accuracy is almost 100% but might be off by 5 to 10 seconds per day. Watchmakers who craft this style, such as, Oris Artelier with their hint of vintage glamor, Panerai Radiomir that comes with a 3-day power wheel, and Louis Erard whose watches are inspired by the Neo-classical period.
Automatic Watches: Same Quality With Less Hassel
Automatic watches, also known as self-winding watches, are best for someone who finds hand-winding tedious for their everyday wear. This second-generation design powers itself with the kinetic energy generated by your wrist movement. When invented, the French referred to it as “perpetuál” for its ability to self-perpetuate the mainspring. Differing from the Mechanical watch, the Automatic watch has an extra rotor that keeps the mainspring tightly wound and allows a steady flow of energy to the components. When your wrist moves, the rotor spins and re-winds the mainspring which entails powers the watch. The rotor adds extra weight and thickness, which can be a turn-off to some but usually is not an issue for most. Being the preferred choice over Mechanical watches, there is a larger market for Automatic watches available. Some of the most popular brands include Seiko with Japanese design, Nodus with very sleek contours, and Timex which is the most affordable.