What Are Mechanical Watches and How Do They Work?

Mechanical watches have mechanical movements. Mechanical movements are as the name suggests, mechanical in nature. They consist of an intricate series of gears and springs. A mainspring stores energy that is supplied by winding. An escapement device regulates the release of this energy to power the watch. A spinning balance wheel oscillates or beats back and forth and divides time into equal portions. As the watch continues to run, the mainspring loses energy. The spring must be wound to supply energy required for the watch to keep running.

The mainspring can be manually wound by hand or have an automatic self winding mechanism supported by the wearer’s motion. These are the two types of mechanical ladies watches movements.

Manual/Hand wound: A mechanical movement that requires manual winding by hand.  This is done by turning a small knob (the crown) to wind the mainspring and supply energy to keep the watch running.

Automatic: A mechanical movement that has a self-winding mechanism. The motion of the arms causes a rotor, a metal weight, to rotate and wind the mainspring.

Manual vs. Automatic Mechanical Movements

Both are mechanical movements only that manual is hand wound manually while automatic has a self winding mechanism. This way, a manual mechanical ladies watch is more demanding in maintenance than an automatic ladies watch. The parts and operations are the same except that an automatic also has a metal weight known as a rotor which rotates when the wearer’s arms move and winds the mainspring.

Mechanical movements are the traditional mechanisms for time keeping. They are centuries old. The use of automatic mechanical movements in wrist watches started and gained popularity in the 19th century. Most modern mechanical timepieces have automatic movements while manual mechanical movements are found in conservative collectibles and expensive watches. Complex complications such as perpetual calendar, moon phase and tourbillon watches have automatic movements. Manual ladies watches usually have simple complications such as day and date and simple chronograph functions.

Mechanical vs. Quartz Watches

Mechanical movements are made up of moving parts and rely on winding for energy. Quartz watches are electronic and rely on batteries for energy. You don’t have to wind quartz watches and you don’t have to replace batteries in automatic and manual mechanical ladies watches.

Mechanical movements have been there for years since the era of clocks and pocket watches. They are the traditional way of keeping time. Quartz watches were introduced in the 1960s, overthrew mechanical timepieces in popularity in the 1970s but mechanical timepieces bounced back into popularity. Ladies quartz watches are more accurate/precise in telling time than women’s mechanical watches. However, the aesthetic value of a mechanical movement is something that a quartz movement lacks. Mechanical ladies watches have a sweeping second hand while the second hand of quartz watches make a ticking sound.

The Appeal of Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches, both manual and automatic, are the most appealing and desirable to watch enthusiasts and collectors. They are the most beautiful mechanisms thanks to hours and hours of assembling, refining and decorating by expert craftsmen.Mechanical movements are the oldest timekeeping mechanisms. They are the result of years and years of development and refinement. They are more expensive than quartz as they take a lot of time and skill to design, develop, refine and decorate. Most traditional and luxury watch makers use mechanical movements, and they are a world away from digital and fashion brands such as Lacoste or Calvin Klein watches.

Passionate watch lovers appreciate the pleasure they derive from the ritual of winding their watches daily. The interaction that only a mechanical timepiece offers. Just like a woman enjoys the ritual of applying her favourite fragrance every morning. Mechanical movements are classic and timeless. They were there before the wristwatch, are there in the modern world and will be there in the future.

While most ladies watches have quartz movements, which are more accurate and considered more convenient, the more you get into the world of watches and the more passionate about watches you become, the more you get to appreciate mechanical and automatic movements and recognize their appeal over quartz.

Adaline Jackob

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