Watch calibres have been around for as long as watches have. The calibre, or the movement, is the heart of any watch. The dial shows the time, and the case safeguards the watch's inner workings, but the movement is what actually makes the hands and hands spin to tell the time. Let’s dive deep into the mechanical vs. automatic watch.
Mechanical vs Automatic watch movement
In the late 15th century, the first mechanical watches appeared; they were so bulky that they had to be attached to a belt. It gets worse, though, because these clocks could only keep track of time in increments of an hour.
While the precision and efficiency of these components would undoubtedly increase over the following centuries, the fundamental principle underlying the mechanical watch movement would remain the same.
A flat spring that is tightly coiled is the first component of a mechanical watch movement. The spring would instantly unspool if there were no means of regulating its movement.
However, the spring is connected to a set of slowly turning gears that are regulated by a second, smaller spring known as the hairspring. In order to prevent the internal workings of the watch from being damaged or altered by vibration and other forms of motion, jewel bearings are installed.
Mass production of mechanical wristwatches began in the late 19th century and continued into the early 20th, and their significance was cemented during World War I.
Mechanical wristwatches were popular among women before the turn of the century. Wristwatches, which allowed soldiers to check the time while still using their weapons, were standard issue by the war's end. However, almost six years after Armistice Day, the old mechanical watch's competition appeared.
TRANSITION TO THE AUTOMATIC WATCH
John Harwood submitted a patent application for the first automatic wristwatch in 1924. Though its origins in the late 18th century are debatable, no one can deny that Harwood was instrumental in popularising automatic watches as a practical alternative to mechanical ones.
Compared to conventional mechanical wristwatches, the innovations outlined in the patent were vast. While the interior remained largely unchanged, one key change was the addition of a self-winding automatic watch.
Harwood's automatic watch contained an oscillating weight that wound the spring in response to the wearer's kinetic energy, whereas a mechanical watch required manual winding and would cease functioning after a few days without this maintenance.
As the watch wearer goes about their day, the watch's spring is wound and then unspooled in a manner analogous to that of traditional mechanical timepieces. Mechanical components are still used in automatic watches for the most part.
The difference between these two types of watches is explained here. It's important to note that all automatic watches are also mechanical. Unlike quartz watches, which rely on an electric current to keep time, both of these use mechanical components to keep track of time.
For simplicity's sake, we'll continue to use "mechanical" to refer to non-self winding watches, and we'll make sure to specify all mechanical watches wherever necessary.
WINDING YOUR WATCH
Even automatic watches occasionally require manual winding, so it's important to know how to do it. Daily winding of a mechanical watch is recommended because the less taut the mainspring is, the less precise the watch's movement will be. You can wind the crown of any mechanical watch by turning it in a clockwise direction.
A little bit of friction from the watch should be produced after sufficient winding to indicate that it is ready to be set. Damage to the delicate machinery can result from overwinding, but only if the force applied is greater than the amount of resistance offered.
On the other hand, automatic watches can't be accidentally wound too tightly. They are built in with safeguards to stop that from happening. Shaking, winding, or rotating the watch should restart the movement if the natural movement of your wrist is not enough to power it on a sedentary day or if you haven't worn it and thus not powered it in a while.
For those with a large number of automatic watches, a watch winder can be purchased to keep the watches wound when they are not being worn.
QUALITY AND RELIABILITY OF VARIOUS WATCH MOVEMENTS
In order to provide a comparison between quartz and all mechanical watches, we will briefly revisit the topic of quartz movement. In the 1970s, quartz watches emerged as a fashionable, battery-operated alternative to mechanical and automatic timepieces.
Quartz watches, thanks to their electronic components, are widely acknowledged to be more precise than their mechanical and automatic counterparts.
As they wind down, both mechanical and automatic watches lose some precision, but not enough to be considered distinctly inferior. Nonetheless, there are noticeable visual differences between quartz and mechanical/automatic watches that deserve discussion.
Quartz watches' second hands move in a staccato, "tick tick" fashion because of the movement. Due to the constant internal movement of the watch's spring or rotor, the second hand is smooth and continuous in mechanical and automatic watches.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WEAR AN AUTOMATIC WATCH AS OPPOSED TO A MECHANIC WATCH?
Because of their fundamentally different inner workings, mechanical and automatic motions must also look different on the outside. When it comes to repairing a mechanical watch, you need specialised equipment because of the intricate machinery inside and the number of tiny moving parts.
Many mechanical watches have see-through cases that reveal the intricate inner workings of the timepiece, making it more than just a stylish accessory and functional timepiece.On the other hand, automatic watches are typically larger and heavier than their mechanical counterparts.
The internal mechanisms are much larger and heavier than those of mechanical wristwatches. Some watches allow you to hear and feel the rotor turning as you turn the bezel, which can be off-putting to some people but an uplifting reminder of the quality of the work that went into their timepiece to others.
CONSIDERATIONS OF PRACTICALITY FOR THE WATCH OWNER
We would be remiss if we didn't point out that mechanical and automatic watches have some weaknesses in common. The mechanical nature of both makes them vulnerable to electric shocks and the magnetism emitted by televisions, speakers, and other electronic devices.
If you have a clock handy, you can easily eliminate any unfavourable effects by setting the time back to normal.The mechanical watch's resistance to moisture may be more relevant, depending on how active you tend to be.
While it's true that no watch is completely impervious to water, standard mechanical watches in particular are vulnerable to humidity because of the intricate and delicate mechanisms that power the movement.
While it's true that a few splashes of water won't ruin a mechanical watch, unless it's a diver's watch or has a particularly high water resistance rating, you should probably remove it before jumping in the pool.
MECHANICAL VS. AUTOMATIC WATCH SYSTEM
Hopefully, you now feel more at ease when discussing the various watch movements, even if the question of which is superior will continue to be hotly debated for the foreseeable future. We'll summarise the advantages and disadvantages of both mechanical and automatic watches below.
- Craftsmanship and motion that are a work of art.
- The majority of mechanical watches are vintage.
- Careful maintenance can result in a long life.
- Requires daily winding in order to function.
- As it unravels, its accuracy will decline.
- Usually higher in sensitivity than quartz alternatives.
- The second-hand movement was silky smooth.
- Superior to standard mechanical watches in both price and ease of repair.
- If you aren't going to wear it every day or are inactive for an extended period of time, you'll need to have it rewound.
- The sound and sensation of weight shifting can be seen as both benefits and drawbacks.
- Similar benefits and drawbacks apply to both automatic and mechanical timepieces. This is owing to the fact that both groups share a common ancestry, with the smaller group having descended from the larger one. There are those who might not be interested in a mechanical watch. Those of you who are constantly on the move will appreciate how much easier automatic watches are to maintain. In any case, you shouldn't miss out on the incredible attention to detail that went into making these watches.
MECHANICAL VS. AUTOMATIC WATCH SOLUTIONS
You have now studied the fascinating background of mechanical watches and witnessed firsthand some of the challenges that these devices have overcome throughout the ages. To us, it should not rest with just one group to decide whether automatic or mechanical watches are better.
We think it makes no difference whether you wind by hand or by the amount of daily activity you engage in; both methods are valid. What we can say with absolute certainty, though, is that if you wear a watch of any kind, you're choosing to engage with a level of craftsmanship and innovation whose legacy is as refined as its present-day implementation.
As we discussed mechanical vs. automatic watch, it will become easy for you to buy the best mechanical watch and automatic watch.