About Mechanical Watches
Traditional, classy, timeless.
Mechanical watches are driven by a the mechanical force of a mainspring. They typically display the time on a conventional analog face with a dial and hands although other variations exist. Mechanical watches are sometimes referred to as "wind-up" or "manual wind" watches.
Mechanical watches typically need to be wound about once every 1 to 2 days or they will lose the time and need to be reset.A few mechanical watches have a "power reserve" indicator in order to tell when they need to be wound.
Mechanical watches may also include other "complications" such as day/date indicators, chronographs (stopwatches), multiple time zones, "world time" indicators, alarms, "perpetual" calanders that can account for leap years, moon phase indicators, repeaters that sound the time every hour, and more!
Close up of a mechanical
movement showing the
Mechanical watches are hampered by the limitations of friction and imperfections of the physical world. Watchmakers have learned to use jewelled ruby/sapphire bearings to reduce friction and astounding craftsmanship and material science to increase the accuracy as much as possible.
The number of jewels is often prominantly displayed with most fine watches having 17 or more jewels. The number of jewels is not always a good indicator of quality, however, since large jewel counts are sometimes used purely for marketing purposes. In the 1960s, the "jewel craze" resulted with watches with up to 100 jewels!
Today, even the very finest mechanical watches from Rolex or Patek Phillipe are no more accurate than a decent watch from 50 years ago and can acheive an accuracy of only about plus or minus 5 to 30 seconds per day. This means that they will need to be periodically reset.
From the time of the first practical wristwatches in the late 1800s unti the 1950s, all wristwatches were mechanical. In the latter half of the 20th century, new electronic and digital mechanisms were devised that made mechnical watches technically obsolete in terms of accuracy, reliability, features, convenience, ease of use, and affordability.
Little has changed in the past 50 years of mechanical watch technology except for the incorporation of new materials such as titanium, tungsten, ceramic, carbon fiber, kevlar, resin, plastic and aluminum. However, since the 1980s, mechanical watches have made a comeback in popularity and continue to be popular today because of their elegance and craftsmanship.